Tuesday, October 19, 2010

All roads lead to the East

Name: The East Brunswick Club
Size: Small, probably about 300 pax
Who plays there: It's one of many small venues on the Melbourne local circuit. It's sister venue is the larger Corner Hotel in Richmond (which does all the ticketing), and it seems this is the smaller option for the bookers. We've seen Hungry Kids of Hungary, Jeff Lang and Cordrazine there.

Ahhh, this is better: sticky floors, paint peeling off the walls, a dank den of bad air circulation and a swirling odour of stale beer, urinal cakes and desperation. This is what a rock venues are all about; and we’ve found it in our adopted ‘local’ in the East Brunswick Club.

By stroke of luck or by design, the ‘East’ or ‘EBC’ was our venue of choice for a few weekends in a row, and it’s actually a pretty cool place. It’s an old brick corner bar which, over time, has sprawled over into a rear courtyard and the building next door. The main bar room has been converted into a pub dining room and small beerhall, with widescreen teevs providing entertainment for the sports buffs. This room does a decent atmos when a Wallabies game is on, and the dining option is quite acceptable pub fair with a twist, even though the ubiquitous parma does tend to dominate.

At the back of the main bar room you can head out to the scraggly courtyard or, probably more enticingly on cold evenings, off up the dark little corridor, into the tiny reception area-cum-box-office and through the doorway into the building next door, which has been colonised into the band room. Immediately clear is the fact that this is a small room - you wander into the back of the dark space and you are confronted by an unnecessarily large sound desk, complete with a stack of equalisers and machines which go ‘ping’. Looking past that, you have a small flat floor area, a long hole in the wall to the left which serves as the bar, and a relatively high stage area. On both sides at the rear of the room are two small risers - one housing the merch area, the other just an open viewing space. Both risers are vantage points, but end just shy of the mixing desk, meaning that the optimum listening space (just behind the sound-desk) is interrupted by the hundreds of people movements as they squeeze through this small opening to get to either the bar or the front of the room. All small rooms have their quirks, I guess.

The place is warm and cosy, both in its sound and environs. There’s a lovely absence of polished concrete, brushed metal and glass furnishings, and the audience of equally devoid of the fucktards generally attracted to such unimaginative decor. It’s at the top part of Lygon Street, but far enough away from the gangland reprisal attacks for which the Carlton part of this strip has become known that it may just as well be on another planet. The area is on the cusp of some form of gentrification - a couple of unit blocks are already in construction - but the old guard are hanging on. EBC is a local pub to an extent, so the inner-urban semi-profs mix with the inner-urban militia-hippy to provide an interesting people-watching mix. For the blokes, it manifests itself in a happy conglomerate of beards styles - from full, bushy, ‘fuck the man’ style jobbies to the tastefully full, but equally trimmed office-approved types (like mine). The ladies are tastefully beardless.

The pub is a little way from any other night-time establishment, meaning the between-set wanderings are a little sparse in highlights. Come 10-ish when the Fox Sports options are limited and the dinner visitors have cleared off, the place is just a regular local bar with a cool little band room. It has that slight air of “trying hard to be cool, but really not caring if it is or not”, akin to the multitudes of RSL clubs and community halls in the northern rivers of NSW who are now run by ex-Sydney band bookers who opted for a sea-change but couldn’t quite give up on the rock n roll lifestyle. This adds to the vibe that this is a little gem worth preserving and a ‘secret’ worth keeping.


Dr Yobbo said...

Everyone needs a local. Glad yours isn't a gentrified farrago of fake tan and smoked glass.

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