Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Hopetoun Hotel

I just read in the Sydney Morning Herald that the Hopetoun had closed it's doors.

For those who grew up in Sydney with a love of independent music, the Hoey was one of the best venues around. It is also one of a handful of great music venues left in that town. Once a week I'd be at rock against work (rock against uni in my case) watching bands for free and drinking Melbourne bitter.

And on Saturday nights it was packed - the front bar with the bands, and downstairs (or was it upstairs?)... the dark dingy room with pool table and arcade games just made for me.

I still remember being at that front stage looking at Kim Salmons fucking cuban heel boots. The girls wore denim shorts and black tights with doc martins, and the boys flannel - it was heaven.

I couldn't even begin to list all the Australian bands I saw at the Hopetoun, but my favourite memories are seeing the Hard Ons, Hell Kitty (Rat Cat),Box the Jesuit, Kim Salmon, Smudge, You Am I, Magic Dirt and the Welcome Mat.

I guess I was lucky to grow up in Sydney during those happy days where you could see a great band even if you lived in the suburbs. But it makes me sad that so much has changed.

No more great bands at the Dee Why hotel where I saw the Ramones, PIL, They Might be Giants and Pop Will Eat Itself. I even had tickets to see Nirvana there - but they ended up canceling because of some drama. Then the good old Sands Hotel at Narrabeen, where I remember seeing the Lemonheads and swooning at Evan Dando with all the girls. Even the Brookvale Hotel had good nights. You Am I would play and Tim Rogers would end up chatting, all drunk and ego. And finally the Manly Vale - ripping off Mass Appeal by working the door for Mergatroid and sneaking bits of cash to the side. All these venues in a 10 kilometer radius, and now you never would know.

Without those pubs, bands like You Am I wouldn't be around today. So many music venues were available to up and coming bands, and without them, those boys would still be in Blacktown reminiscing about their old skateboarding days.

Then there were the city venues, like the Lansdowne Hotel, which is now a fricking backpackers. The Lansdowne was where you saw everything from Louis Tillet and Ed Keupper, to the Beasts of Bourbon. Then there were the usual suspects of Smudge, Rat Cat, Welcome Mat, Godstar and the Half a Cow crew. Interstate bands like the Meanies and Screamfeeder would play there when in town, and it was just one of those times where everyone kind of knew everyone - without knowing anyone.

Oh Sydney - what happened? Bring back the days when it was easy to start a band and find somewhere to play. Those days where people would go to watch, because thats what you did, and it was the best fun - because music is everything.

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