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 August 25th 2011
The Corner Hotel is a Melbourne fixture, well known for its expansive rooftop area and riotous trivia. It's a reliable favourite for large groups of people to visit for drinks and dinner. Another thing the Corner Hotel's equally famous for, however, is live music: it's one of the most popular music venues in Melbourne, regularly hosting famous international bands. Compared to some of Melbourne's other music venues, how does the Corner Hotel shape up?
Let's start with the main pub. This is where you'll wait before the gig starts, presuming you're not too keen on shivering in the cold. You could sit upstairs, but it's harder to get a table and you can't keep an eye on the line. Downstairs is warm and comfortable, with booths in the wall if you're looking for dinner and stools if you're not. There's a pool table, although it's almost always being used.
On the other hand, the rooftop bar looks pretty nice.
One nice thing about the downstairs pub: it's close to the bandroom itself, so you can hear a muffled version of the opening acts. If you like what you hear, head in early and hit the dancefloor; if you don't, you're spared the hassle of waiting around and trying not to get a headache. You won't want to hang around for too long drinking, though, as the bar prices really try to gouge you. Seriously, a pot here is the approximate price of a pint elsewhere (and if you want a pint, you'd better have deep pockets.) With gig prices being what they are these days, you're probably better off pre-gaming with a goon sack in an alley anyway.
The bandroom itself is pretty good: spacious, with a wide stage and few sound troubles. One thing to watch out for is the giant black pole, inexplicably placed in the middle of the dancefloor. Here's a tip: if you're feeling tired, find it and lean against it while you're waiting for the band to come on. Gigs involve a lot of standing, and anywhere you can rest is incredibly welcome. Just make sure you're not the one behind the pole when the music starts.
The Corner Hotel has a cloakroom, which is something that many other venues sadly lack. It's impossible to overestimate how useful a cloakroom is – there are few things worse than dealing with a handbag or backpack at a gig. One of them, perhaps, might be being the person behind someone dealing with their backpack at a gig. You're guaranteed to get sweaty and hot, as well, so leave your heavy coat behind the bar.
Criticisms of a music venue don't really matter. People go to concerts to see bands they like, not to appreciate the architecture of the dancefloor, and the Corner Hotel consistently has good bands. If Coldplay was playing a show in the Flinders St Station bathrooms, people would pack in there regardless of the cramped space and disturbing aromas. Still, if you're trying to decide whether or not to go see a band at the Corner, rest assured that despite its quirks it's an excellent place for live music. Use the cloakroom, stay away from the pole, and you're guaranteed a decent night.