It's hard not to be overstimulated when walking through The Valley on a night out. The place is an unpredictable organism with a fusion of vitality and mania that's matched only by its gloriously seedy underbelly.
Brunswick Street Mall exists as its beating heart, regulating the rhythm and flow of whatever circumstance or substance might be coursing through its passageways. Finding a little bit of Hollywood here comes as quite a surprise but Fortitude Music Hall is full of surprises.
First impressions suggest a vintage theatre rather than a music hall. The combination of bulbs and black retains a classic and even homely appeal. Not slap-in-the-face Vegas neon but more a porch light-left-on-for-a-loved-one display.
Finn McCools, The Sound Garden and the inevitable McDonalds surround the place but can't match the simple elegance of Fortitude Music Hall's exterior. The mood is heightened by the Valley Walk of Fame beneath your feet - think Hollywood Walk of Fame but in celebration of Brisbane musos rather than movie stars.
Entering beneath the glow of the vintage lightbulbs feels like walking down your own red carpet into a 1950s film premiere. The massive bar in the foyer is a jolt back to reality and a reminder that this is a proper rock music venue.
Chandeliers are the first thing to catch the eye in the music hall itself. Somehow understated but brazen at the same time, they reinforce the classic mood. An overhanging balcony and acoustic-friendly ceiling reinforce the theatre vibe and put the concrete box anti-sound design of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre to shame.
With a seated capacity of 1 100 and 3 000 standing, Fortitude Music Hall bills itself as the largest ballroom-styled venue in Australia. My seat is near the back but viewing is easy and the place feels full but not crowded.
When the band begins - a night of 90s nostalgia with Scottish legends Del Amitri - the sound is clear and crisp. Lyrics are easily understood and the bass line is dominant but not overbearing. Acoustics can make or break a show and Fortitude Music Halls seems to have it sorted.
Lighting is important too and the band performs amidst ever-changing coloured spotlights. A bit seizure-inducing at times but within the bounds of tolerability. I can't quite see the ageing rockers' faces but their movements tell the tale of time. I can't be getting old too, can I?
Encore complete, there's that post-concert feeling of exhilaration and elation in the air. The smiling crowd departs and heads back into the Valley jungle.
I don't get far. 5 Dogs is near enough to next door and does a cracking roast beef and gravy roll. It's an ideal way to close out your night or carb up for your next adventure.