Goodbye Tote… you will be missed.


It’s the end of an era. It’s also a disgrace that this has happened. Australian live music has lost it’s best rock venue.

I’ve been trying to get together my next guitarnerd article but my heart hasn’t been in it. Yesterday it was announced that the Melbourne rock icon ‘The Tote’ would close forever due to a long running fight with Liquor Licensing.

Here’s Tote owner’s Bruce Milne’s statement:

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.

I don’t believe the Tote is a “high risk” venue, in the same category as the nightclubs that make the news for all the wrong reasons. Despite being on a rough little corner of Collingwood, the Tote has had very, very few incidents. As a local police officer once said, “The Tote’s the quietest pub in the area.”

It’s not dumb luck that the Tote has escaped serious violence. I believe the business has been run responsibly. People don’t come to the Tote to fight. They come because they have a passion for music and love to be in an historic venue that reeks of that same passion.

The Tote is (sorry, was) an important cornerstone of Melbourne’s rich and diverse music community. It’s too late to save the Tote but not too late to try and save other inner city venues that are feeling the same pressures.

I know the sudden closure affects a lot of people. Most importantly, the hard-working staff that are being forced onto the dole queue. And the bands and artists that have had their gigs pulled from under them.

Anyway, I don’t want to get maudlin (or viciously angry). The era of the Tote is over. If you love the place, come and have a beer with us this weekend.

Click here for a great interview…

The Tote has been my favourite place to play since I started playing bass with The Tremors & Sixfthick. As soon as I step through those green doors, it feels like home. The history of that place is scrawled all over the walls, with signed mounted posters from Fugazi, The Scientists, Magic Dirt, Mudhoney, Shellac, Beasts Of Bourbon plus many more. One of the proudest moments in my music career is when Sixfthick got it’s own signed poster mounted on the wall. We’ve had some insane gigs over there over the years. Always fun. The bar staff always ensured we had a great night.

I’ve been trying to reminisce about the many times I played at the Tote with the Hicks/Tremors but it’s all a bit blurry. It starts with a scotch, then *scene missing* then ends with me throwing up in the airport toilet the next morning. Sigh… good times…


On Sixfthick’s last trip to Melbourne 2 weeks back, while waiting for my band mates who where taking back borrowed bass cabs etc after our Tote New Years recovery show, I had a few quiet beers at the Tote while watching the front bar band with about 3 other punters in the afternoon and I thought ”Hell yeah. This is the reason I love Melbourne.”

I grabbed another beer and the bartender congratulated me on the previous nights show. “Thanks man, I love playing here.” He replied “Yeah. And I love working here. I get to watch all my favourite bands for free.” I’m glad I got to experience that Tote vibe one last time.

This weekend, the Tote is having a ‘last drinks’… If you can make it, go along and pay your final respects.