This blog could easily turn into a rant about the gentrification of Melbourne’s inner suburbs… just warning you.
A few Friday nights ago I went along to The Tote to see Saint Jude launch their debut album. The band room was filled almost to capacity with almost 250 paying music fans (plus a few obligatory important people who get in for free) enjoying original live music. It was a perfect debut for the band but it got me thinking about the venue we were rocking out in and the live music venues around inner city Melbourne that are no longer with us.
If you are a good Catholic you might already know that Saint Jude is the patron saint of lost causes. The Tote was itself a lost cause back in January 2010. Closed after disputes over liquor licencing and theoretical ‘high risk’ conditions, it went the way of many other live music venues across Melbourne.
The fact that The Tote provided for its patrons live or amplified music meant that in order to satisfy liquor licencing laws CCTV and extra security had to be provided, at a substantial extra cost. This was despite there being no history of alcohol, or loud music for that matter, induced violence at the venue.
There were protests and rallies but The Tote was closed with only a week’s notice given to its patrons. But all was not lost.
The pub was reopened in June 2010 with new owners, restrictive red tape removed and the carpet replaced. And it does appear that new carpet was the only piece of renovation work completed during its 6 month hiatus.
As usual I spent an inordinate amount of time in the ladies. Not because I was too drunk to operate the lock but because I got sucked into reading the graffiti. Bad poetry, declarations of love and gratitude to the venue for enjoyable nights out were scratched into the backs of the toilet doors and scrawled across the tiles. Even the ceiling is adorned.
So this year The Tote celebrates 31 years of providing live music to Melbourne punters. Let’s hope its around for another 30.