Eager to see if Melbourne deserves its “coolest city” tag, we sent ANDREW WESTBROOK to get his groove on in the Victorian capital. Ever heard the one about Melbourne being Australia’s coolest city? The most European, cultured metropolis of the southern hemisphere? Me too. But I’m always suspicious of such labels. They sound a bit too much like a tag invented by a marketing team, kind of like an awesome-sounding school nickname for yourself that you casually drop into conversation, in the hope that others might start using it. So, I needed to test just how trend-settingly chilly the Victorian capital really is. Well, there ain’t much cooler than the groupie-infused, skinny jeaned world of music, so that’s where my search began… As day turns into night, it’s time for amps across the city to start a-buzzing, and there’s no shortage of venues to find some great live music in Melbourne. Most decent-sized visiting bands will most likely be found playing the Forum, but what this city does best is the smaller, slightly scuzzy little basements and back rooms where for just a few bucks you can get right up close to some up-and-coming acts. Most venues play such a variety of genres that it’s best to just see who’s playing where whenever you’re in town, but great places to start your hunt are the Northcote Social Club (High St, Northcote) and The Workers Club (Brunswick St, Fitzroy). A Melbourne institution well worth checking out is The Tote (Johnston St, Collingwood). Don’t believe in its status as a genuine city landmark? Well, when authorities tried to have it shut down earlier this year, thousands of people took to the streets in protest and succeeded in keeping its doors open. Want more? Other options include The Old Bar (Johnson St, Fitzroy), Wesley Ann (High St, Northcote) and St Kilda’s iconic, if slightly tired feeling Espy (The Esplanade). Melbourne doesn’t just boast a lot of live music, it’s got stacks of musical heritage, and there’s plenty of bands now running bars, cafÃ©s and restaurants. In many of them, the one-time rockers have even switched their mic for a glass and can actually be found behind the bar pulling the pints. One of the quirkiest spots to stop for a flat white is Handsome Steve’s House of Refreshment. Tucked away, through an unmarked door in St Hellier’s Street in Abbotsford, you’ll find quiff-laden Steve Miller, once of 80s post-punk band The Moodists. With its time warp feel and Geelong Catsmemorabilia, the House (http://www.houseofrefreshment.com) is near impossible to find but, being regularly rated one of the city’s best cafÃ©s, it’s well worth the search. As Steve himself says, “If you’ve got a good place, you don’t send out a message to get wankers coming in. Squares and yummy mummy’s downstairs, hipsters upstairs.” Next, head to Americana-styled Yellow Bird (Chapel St, Windsor), for some munch and an early beer, where you’ll most likely catch a glimpse of Clint Hyndman, who could previously be found playing drums for 11-times Aria award-winning rockers Something for Kate.
About The Author
TNT Magazine has been guiding independent travellers around the world for 35 years. Originally founded in 1983, TNT Magazine has been regarded by many as the youth travellers bible, offering a mix of inspiring travel content, news, lifestyle, fashion, jobs and accommodation. Our mantra is live life & travel which encompasses what we are all about. To live life to the full, and help young adults navigate the tribulations of working, living and experiencing adventure through travel. We have developed a great reputation throughout the world as an independent and trusted source of quality content and advice.
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