Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published September 4th 2011
The Central Club Hotel, on 293 Swan St, is a lounge bar known for its live music. Do you hate it when bands play in stadiums with expensive tickets? Do you miss the days when gigs were cheap and bounces were friendly? If so, you’re clearly delusional – bouncers were never friendly – but you might enjoy gigs at the Central Club bandroom: a cheap, cosy music venue with tickets rarely above ten dollars.
While the Central Club hotel is roomy, full of couches and has a country-pub feel to it, the bandroom couldn’t be more different. The roof is low and the crowd usually fills the entire space from the stage to the bar. As you enter past the ticket desk, where they’ll stamp your wrist with something indecipherable, the bar is on your left and there’s a few tables to your right. The entire room is small enough that you can sit at the tables and enjoy an excellent view of the band – if you don’t feel like dancing, that is. Regardless, it’s good to have a place to sit before the music starts (or to wait out an interminable opening band). There’s no cloakroom at the bar, so bring a long a friend who doesn’t dance and put your bags under their table.
You’ll run into some appalling opening bands at the Central Club. At ten dollars a ticket, don’t expect much from any band other than the headliner (although it’s possible to be pleasantly surprised.) Prepare to sit through half an hour of a group who seem more at home in the lead singer’s garage than on a stage. However, the sheer awfulness of some acts can be endearing, or at least make for a good story to tell your friends.
If you’re a metal or industrial fan, you probably know the Central Club already – and if you don’t, you should. Local and Australian metal bands play there all the time – like Black Majesty or the more playful Voyager – and often choose the Central Club as a place to debut their new albums. The dense standing area makes headbanging or moshing perilous (not that that ever stopped anyone), but unless the band you’re seeing is really hardcore it shouldn’t be a problem. For those who aren’t that into metal, the Central Club also hosts alternative and indie bands from time to time, so keep an eye out for posters or notifications.
You can catch the last train from Richmond Station home after the gig, but check your watch during the set, since delays and sound issues mean bands often play until 1 or 2am. Miss the train and you’ll be stuck trying to find a taxi on Swan St after midnight. Unlike the Corner Hotel or the Palais Theatre, the Central Club is the kind of place you can drop by and see what’s playing. If you’re in Richmond, put your ear to the wall and see if you like what you hear. You can usually join the crowd inside for less than the price of a pint – and while a pint only lasts for minutes, a gig can last for hours.