After almost 30 years of being rock n’ roll ground zero in Melbourne, The Tote is closing its doors for good this weekend. In a sudden announcement circulated via press release this morning, Tote publican, Melbourne music legend and all round good guy Bruce Milne stated:

It’s last drinks at the Tote. This weekend. I know it’s sudden. I didn’t plan it to be like that.

I can’t afford to keep fighting Liquor Licensing. The “high risk” conditions they have placed on the Tote’s license make it impossible to trade profitably. I can’t afford the new “high risk” fees they have imposed. I can’t afford to keep fighting them at VCAT. I can’t renegotiate a lease in this environment.

So, come into the Tote this weekend to say farewell to the sad staff and to feel the sticky carpet for the last time.

The Tote has played host to just about every Australian band of note over the years, not to mention hundreds of international touring bands from the White Stripes to The Hellacopters, Mclusky to Soundtrack of Our Lives – even Evan Dando from The Lemonheads lived upstairs for a while. No longer will the best pub jukebox in the world blare out Marquee Moon or My Pal, no longer will some of Australia’s best loved bands get their start playing first on a Wednesday night. No longer will music fans from around the world be able to pop in to the bar and find themselves surrounded by musicians and music fans on both sides of the bar. No longer will summer nights with free bbqs in the beergarden provide respite from the sweltering pit in front of the stage as a mixture of sweat and beer gets spilt on its infamous sticky carpet.

So pop in to The Tote this weekend for one last beer, or if you’re not in Melbourne drop in to your local live music venue and buy a beer to help them keep going. The live music scene in Australia’s state capital inner cities is dying a death of a thousand cuts as it gets strangled by bureaucracy and yuppies moving into the neighbourhood complaining about noise from the venues they moved in next to, to take advantage of that inner city ‘vibe’. Tabloid frenzies over violence in nightclubs lead to kneejerk reactions by licensing authorities; and they fail to differentiate between beer barns full of violent drunk bogans and a small venue with live music, entertaining a handful of music lovers keeping the scene going.

‘You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone
They paved paradise and put up a parking lot’

(Or a $4 pizza bar)

Watch The Drones Live @ The Tote – part of the doco:

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