Giving a Damn About Venues
We are musicians. We create music. We take inspiration and we hope to one day incite it. No matter if you’re a self-taught singer/songwriter pelting out tunes in your bedroom, a homegrown hip-hop trio from the inner-suburbs, or a fully fledged death metal symphony orchestra from the desert, what you have is music, skill and something original. All you need now, and in the future, are venues.
At Streamhear we know how important venues that support local, original music are. They’re our bread and butter. We simply could not enjoy our varied music communities without them. In a previous post, How Good Is Your Band? We Take A Look At Why Streamhear Was Invented we expressed concern over the diminishing venues available for local artists to put up a show. And now we are dedicated to going that extra mile to research, talk to and, where we can, visit establishments that are supporting local music.
It is our hope that the information we share might just help connect people with places, whether your in a new area and you want to catch some local, live music (kudos to you), or you’re a band that wants to gig in new territory. Either way, we’re here to start talking about local music and the places which support it.
Ending Up On The Wrong Side Of The Tracks
I can’t think of a better place to start then an old, locally known venue in the heart of the largely industrial North Fremantle, in Western Australia. My own experience with finding The Railway Hotel is not synonymous with an ordinary night out, so I’ll start with a bit of background story.
We’d arrived at Perth in the morning and took the train to Fremantle before lunch. It started out as just the three of us, in town for a gig later that weekend at the Bassendean Hotel. Beers were flowing, and as the arvo progressed, friends we hadn't seen for some time were coming by for a yarn and pint. Night approached before we realised we weren't heading back into the city until we caught some live music.
The pubs were filling up and it was getting harder to hear the person spitting in your ear next to you. Our guitarist rummaged through a copy of Perth’s street press magazine, X-Press. It was WAM festival week so there was plenty of glamour and content to sift through to find a show in Fremantle that night.
Eventually, squinting at the gig guide, we found a show, The Wrong Side Of The Tracks, held at The Railway Hotel. It had started half an hour ago, and we were sold the moment saw the line up. Not that we knew any of the bands, but the sheer intrigue which their creative names conjured tickled our curiosity. “Aborted Tortoise” and “Acid Baby Jesus” were two which struck me as brilliantly hopeful.
The Stages of Arriving
A taxi dropped us off in a dark cul-de-sac along side The Railway. The thrum of distorted guitar and the thwack of snare drum from inside rekindled some energy I’d lost to an afternoon of drinking. We skirted the old single-storey brick and iron hotel. A bullnose, corrugated iron verandah sidled along its street-front. Above it a plain white parapet displayed the name of the hotel, and at the corner of the building, the year 1894 . I’d learnt later that it was heritage listed in 1999, making it a rare gem of a place which had sprung up over a hundred years ago to serve the sprawling working class of north Freo.
I noticed an old sign advertising Jazz Saturdays, and it was hard to tell if it was memorabilia or current (turns out they’re still a thing). One verandah post was dressed as a barbers pole. It seemed a brilliantly iconic place for a haircut, but unfortunately a cut and pint is a thing of the past for The Railway.
We were greeted by a friendly punter at the door. We paid the door charge and fanned out across the gigantic bar. It was surprisingly large inside. The main stage was raised to mean business, with plenty of dancing/gawking space in front.
There was a stage outside, but due to wet weather earlier that day, a makeshift space was set up under cover for the bands. Rather than being on a raised stage, the bands out here were enjoying more of a rugged kind of amphitheatre, where we looked down at them from the yeasty comfort of the beer garden. Behind us, massive retaining walls formed a barrier between the garden and the train tracks.
Psych For The Masses
The bands themselves ended up being an impressive lineup of quality local garage/psychedelic punk/rock outfits, headlined by touring Greek band, “Acid Baby Jesus”.
Personally, I’d never intentionally went to a live show to see a full night of psychedelic punk rock but I am glad to have been indoctrinated by that night at The Railway. The local bands which stood out for me were “The Darling Rangers,” “Pissedcolas,” and “Aborted Tortoise.” Wrapping up the night, “Acid Baby Jesus” thrashed, jived and swooned through a set which left me feeling exhilarated and agreeably deranged.
All the bands were each distinguishable from the other yet they all seemed to have been drinking from the same well. That well appears to be laced with anarchy, a touch of surfer culture and brutal self-expression. No wonder I found the the music so alluring!
Gigging At The Railway
So here’s the business. As much as I’d love to talk about the killer night we had at The Railway, I want to also talk about playing there.
In case you’re looking for a gig in Perth, I highly advise you turn your attention to North Fremantle, specifically The Railway Hotel. Whilst a Google search won’t throw the name back at you in a hurry, locals are very well familiar with the place. After all, local knowledge trumps a glittery webpage.
Genre’s which this venue favour are anything from metal, rock, reggae to country. So if you think your band might fit any of these and your serious about a gig here, your’e best to start with contacting band organiser Luke Rinaldi, at email@example.com.
The Railway Hotel do Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, though they are willing to put you up on other nights upon request. Music can go to just before midnight, and thankfully no real noise restrictions on the main stage. Sundays, music is to cease by 10pm.
Bands are to organise their own doorman, and door charges are at your discretion if you’re organising the night.
Tech nerds will be satiated by the Main Room’s dedicated house gear (currently no dedicated equipment for the outside stage):
2 x Nexo PS-15 flown from truss above stage 1 x Nexo PS15td controller
1 x Camco Vortex 6 amplifier
4 x RCF folded horn 18" subs
1 x Camco Tecton 38:4 amplifier
1 x Yamaha LS9 32 channel digital mixing console 1 x KT DN360 eq
1 x DBX digital compressor/limiter
4 sends, 4 monitors at front of stage and bi-amp drum fill 6 x Quest 12+2" 600w wedges and Double 15+2" drum fill Quest 4004 and 3004 amplifiers
Inputs / mics
K&M mic stands
8 x Shure SM58 / 4 x Shure SM57 / 1 x Shure beta 57 / 1 x Shure beta 52 / 2 x Mann M11 cond. 6 active di boxes
32 channel / 32 passive splits / 8 returns multicore
1 x 8 channel drop box
1 x 6 channel drop box
16 x LED ‘par can’ units 6 x par 56 cans
2 x IC4 colour flood
What Else Is Happening In Freo?
Fremantle itself is a fantastic hub to catch local, live acts.
Run by the same owner/operator and just around the corner from The Railway Hotel is the more well known Swan Hotel. To quote directly from their website: “The Basement is open to run live bands every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night. It hosts a variety of genres of music including indie, punk, metal, hardcore, alternative and more.”
If that’s not industrious enough for live music north of the tracks, there’s also Mojos Bar. On their website they declare: “Mojos Bar loves live original music seventeen days a week. It loves it local and foreign, hard and soft, new and old, obvious and obscure, friendly and furious... you get the idea.” We popped our head in after our psychedelic Railway experience, and the place was still jam packed and thumping, and certainly a venue I’d be sure to visit when I’m in the area again.
In the heart of Fremantle itself is the Flyby Night Musician’s Club. Back in the day I remembered catching Jeff Martin from The Tea Party performing solo at the Artillery Drill Hall, but just early 2015 the Flyby moved to the Victoria Hall Building, at 189 High Street. Flyby have a long running history for local, live music as a not for profit community musicians club.
Fremantle Winter Music Festival
When talking to staff about the venue and local music it was hard to miss the excitement and anticipation around the up and coming RTRFM Winter Music Festival, to be held on the second Saturday of June. This year will mark the 10th annual event. When tickets are available they will grant punters access to a host of venues, including Mojos Bar, The Railway and Swan Hotels, where some of Perth’s best bands and DJ’s will serenade the masses across multiple stages. If you’re in the area certainly keep your antennae tuned to this seaside festival.
Sleeping It Off
If you’re going to be doing Fremantle with the band, or if you’re just chancing upon the area to catch some local, live music, there’s a handful of hostels around Freo so that you shouldn’t have to venture far to sleep it off. Here we’ve listed what hostels we could find in the area with a price range on dorm style accommodation. Check the websites themselves (linked to their respective names) for more and most current info.
The Fremantle Hostel Backpackers have only just opened their doors in February 2015. A dorm bed here will set you back anywhere between $29 and $34. On High Street, Sundance Backpackers offer dorm beds between $28 to $31. The Pirates Backpackers is a small hostel/shared house on Essex Street, where dorm beds are between $29 and $31. Fremantle Prison YHA is a popular low key hostel which occupies the old 1850’s prison on Fairbairn Street. $26 to $34.
Giving A Damn About Homegrown Music
Fremantle is a lucrative alternative from the inner Perth suburbs to catch live and local music. A train there is as simple as catching the outbound Fremantle Line and will cost you next to nothing. A plethora of bars and restaurants inhabit much of the beautiful inner Fremantle, and accomodation is certainly plentiful and varied.
At a quick glance The Railway Hotel may not appear to be much more than an old wharfie’s pub, but be prepared to be gravely mistaken. It is a bastion for quality live and local music. Whilst the place does retain a great sense of modesty, this does not mean it doesn’t give a damn about local music. And boy, can it put on a show.
Locals know the joint. It’s been around for generations. Bands come from interstate and overseas to play here. And by having more venues around the corner means more music goers are likely to be sniffing around the area. This means more chance for the exposure that most of us are hankering for.
This is a place we can all meet and take homegrown music both seriously and joyously. Maybe we’ll see you there one day for a beer and a yarn.