This being a Split Works organised show, it was professional and well-run, but even on a normal night, it's hard not to think that MAO Livehouse has the potential to be a fantastic venue. I think the new space is a big improvement on the old one - the lower ceiling and the mezzanine around the edge makes it feel less cavernous than the old venue did and (though there was a big crowd last night) it feels as if you could get away with smaller turn outs here not feeling empty like they did in Red Town.
The layout, lighting and sound are all really impressive, though at the risk of sounding like an old man, I thought the sound was too loud. If they put the 'force majeure' that is Subs on at that volume, they'll have all of Luwan district complaining about the noise. On the plus side, there's no smoking allowed in the main performance area (unless that was just for last night?) which means non-smokers can enjoy a gig without coming out smelling like an ashtray.
There are some drawbacks - in particular the bar operates a ridiculous drink tickets system whereby you tell the bar person what you want, they direct you to someone selling drinks tickets who asks again, exchanges your money for the same value of tickets and then you pass the tickets to the person stood right next to them to get your drink. Surely that's not necessary?
But overall, it's an excellent space and has the potential to be a great venue as long as it's managed in the right way.