Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Totally over rated.

The Tote. Even grottier on the inside.

In a move that has shocked ageing Generation Xers and tired publicity whores alike, Melbourne’s The Tote hotel in Collingwood has closed after decades of presenting loud, largely talentless bands in a foul environment to a sweaty collection of drunks and speed-freaks.

The hotel says it will be forced to close after the Liquor Licensing Commission required additional security measures at the inner-city venue. Representatives of the Liquor Licensing Commission said they were still trying to wash the smell of stale cigarette smoke and vomit out of their hair after a late-night trip to said venue.

Fans milled around in a half-arsed protest before dispersing to have a bit of a sook at home.

Independent film maker from North Fitzroy Marcus Hall said it was totally unfair The Tote had to abide by the law, especially when it came to over crowding and selling alcohol to people who were already really, really, pissed.

“I mean, that obviously only applies to venues in the outer suburbs where nasty bogans go, not The Tote,” Mr Hall said.

“If a venue like The Tote, which for years provided a venue for struggling bands who were – quite frankly – a bit crap, for audiences who were too pissed to know any better, closes then the entire Melbourne live music scene is doomed.”


Perseus said...


I loved the place.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Acoustics were shit.

Pepsi said...

Good riddance, dodgy stinking smelly joint. I kept a special pair of Docs just for Tote-ing.

Awesome line-up yesterday, shame I missed it.

Though arent the Old Bar dudes sniffing around to pick up where the Bruce & Co left off?

Remember the Hopetoun, they took away the bands, ripped up the sticky carpet, polished the floor boards, brought in lovely chrome furniture and turned it into a "classy bar".

It failed miserably, some-else took it over, put the bands back, added a cover charge and a new breed of indie knobs fell in love with it all over again.

Its on a little break at the mo, till they can find an owner who can actually spell the pub name AND can fix the stink in the loo.

Heres hoping your Tote is on a little break too.

Dr. Golf said...

The fake final gig is PR genius. If the Rainbow is anything to go by the Tote has 2-3 more lifelines.

Got to laugh at the mourning happening on Facebook, from people I know never went there more than twice.

Fact is there are always newer, better venues opening (Social Club, Retreat, East Brunswick Club) which force the others out. If you want to stay in business, how bout spending a few bucks maintaining your facilities. Or just blame the yuppies and liquor laws.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

If you want to stay in business, how bout spending a few bucks maintaining your facilities.

Quite so, Dr G.

There are a lot of new venues opening that makes seeing a band a pleasure - instead of a chore to be endured.

Pepsi said...

I never found attending a gig at the Tote a chore, twas always a pleasure, even if the bands were crap sometimes.

Melba said...

I always enjoyed the Tote but that was years ago.

Last time I was there was last October for a reunion gig. It was a fabulous final hurrah, and I liked seeing it hadn't changed in any way from the old days.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

OK, maybe "chore" was exaggerating slightly but The Tote's line-up always seemed to consist of dodgy speed-metal bands*.

* Also possibly an exaggeration

Loose Shunter said...

Pepsi, great analysis on the Hoey. It suffered a very Sydney sort of pub renovation in that by making it all shiny and new, the owners thought somehow that magically the old clientele of deadshits, petty crims and alcoholics would disappear to be replaced by a newer, more upmarket clientele. Experience shows this is not the case. In that case, revert to Plan A (live music venue) with slightly snazzier furniture and the new clientele ('new breed of indie nobs with too much money') are attracted, like flies to shit on a blanket. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

As an aside, the best bit I liked about the Hopetoun was not the acoustics (poor), not the bar staff or the drinks (surly and overpriced) or even the bands that played there (including the bands I played in), but the proximity of a quieter, cheaper, more homely venue just down the road - the Sydney Labor Club.

I would spend as much time as I could at the Labor Club between sets at the Hopetoun drinking spirits at club prices (cheaper than beer at the Hoey) and being able to talk to my friends in comfortable surroundings before heading back to the Hopetoun hell to see the band. Sometimes, I'd not bother to go back and just spend the night at the Labor Club watching rugby league, smoking and talking.

Shame the Tote had no equivalent RSL, Workers Club or other club to make going there both bearable and reasonably priced.


Loose Shunter said...

Oh noes - the sky is falling, but it helps if you can get enough media interest in your story so that the bad, bad gubbymint man will meet with the landlord.

Pepsi said...

I think the only unbearable thing about going to the Tote was trying to get a taxi back home on a Friday night. Everything else was just a good night out.

If you were after a quieter, cheaper, more homely venue LS, why would you go to the Hoey in the first place? That doesnt make sense to me.

Sydney Labor Club?? Was that the Trade Union or something else?

I admire any pub manager or venue owner who wants to put bands on these days, I think Bruce Milne and co need to be applauded for lasting as long as they did.

I havent been for ages cause I dont live in your town anymore, but hows Pony faring under these Nana State laws?

Perseus said...

Pony is a dark, drug-fuelled bordello where only seedy rock types congregate to either leer at or seduce one another. I love it.

Yeah, other venues are better than Tote, but Tote did nothing wrong.

Ramon - who cares if the acoustics were shit? When you're seeing The Hard-ons live, it's just one big noise anyway. They were the first band I ever saw there (89?) and I was a semi-regular ever since. And anyway, the kick drums always sounded good. It was like the whole PA was tuned to just the kick.

My band played there a few times over the years to both small and large crowds - depending on who we were playing with and what night - and management always treated us well.

Our next gig is at Curtin Ballroom and I have never ever heard of it.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I suspect The Tote's woes were related more to failed business dealings, an ageing building and falling audience numbers.

To say that the number of live music venues in inner-Melbourne is falling is not correct, when you have new venues like The East Brunswick Club, the Newtown Workers Club and the Northcote Social Club all opening recently.

And I quite like Pony.

Loose Shunter said...

Pepsi, my dilemma was this: "I am in the band/I want to see a band, but I don't want to deal with the slack indie rock work practices (i.e. 45 minutes between sets) plus overpriced drinks". Hence the Labor Club.

The Labor Club was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it venue on Bourke Street, less than 100 metres from the Hoey back toward Cleveland Street. A non-descript, two-storey building, it had a crappy chinese restaurant upstairs, but a bar that served incredibly cheap drinks (I recall paying $3.80 back in the late 1990s for an OP rum and coke in a schooner glass), had meat raffles on Friday nights and always rugby league on the TV. Golden days of yore they was. All gone now...

eat my shorts said...

I've never been to, or heard of The Tote, but from what I'm reading it'd be like if The Republic in North Hobart shut down. Feel free to tell me if I'm wrong, but if that happened, I'm not sure live music (proper, decent live music, that is) would survive in Hobart.

I walked into town today, & on my way I passed a sign at the casino, touting the fact that The Whitlams would be playing this venue rather soon. I know they're whores, but seriously. The casino? Didn't they have a song about blowing up the pokies?

Call me what you will, but if it comes between heading out to a stinky, floor sticky venue like The Republic where you can see some decent (heck, even local) live music, and going to the squeaky clean casino where I can line up with old Mavis (for over half my rent) to see a live band ... I know what I'll choose, even if it's a bit messy.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

EMS, years ago - when I was visiting friends in Hobart - we used to hang out in a pub that was pretty cool.

From memory, it was called The Doghouse or something similar.

Whatever happened to it, I wonder.

eat my shorts said...

Hmmm. The Doghouse. Never heard of it, I like that name for a pub though.

Do you remember which street it was in, or any of the landmarks around it? I reckon I could hunt it down for you & see if it's still there if you want. I could even take photos. It'd be like an adventure. C'mon, humour me. It's summer holidays and I'm bored.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

EMS, from memory it was painted green, you could see the mountain and it didn't have a beer garden.

Oh and it wasn't in North Hobart or South Hobart.

Does this help?

eat my shorts said...

Mmmhmm. Possibly.

Is this it?

If I've got the right one, The Dog House the became the Goulburn Arms, which is now a backpackers hostel. Rough end of town. Not green anymore.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

That's the one, EMS.

Well done you!

Hobart has a rough end of town?

eat my shorts said...

Yeah, I'm awesome.

Sure Hobart has a rough end of town.

I don't think I've ever been inside the Goulburn Arms, but having said that, my stubbie opener is from The Black Prince & I'm pretty sure I've never been there either. Christ knows how I came to be in possession of it.

Lewd Bob said...

Coincidentally, just got sent this link.