The corner of Wellington and Johnson Streets is set to roar back to life when the venue formerly known as The Tote reopens its doors this Thursday to a select gathering of media and music scene pundits.
The infamous rock venue’s trials have been well documented, after the Brumby government’s changes to liquor-licensing requirements forced Tote licensee and music industry veteran Bruce Milne to close the venue’s doors amid a wave of industry and public outcry in mid January. The closure prompted the now famed S.L.A.M. rally, in which an estimated twenty thousand marched on State Parliament on February 23, and spooked the Victorian Premier into a spirited, if not contrived, commitment to Melbourne’s live music scene.
When Jon Perring, Andrew Portokallis and Sam Crupi – the men behind such venues as Pony, Yah Yah’s and Fitzroy mainstay Bar Open – made the announcement on April 11 that they would be taking control of the much loved haunt, it was billed as one of the Melbourne music’s great triumphs.
But with the refurbished and – thus far, secretly – renamed Tote reopening this week, the details of any significant amendments to the same liquor-licensing requirements that forced the venue’s hand in the first place, are yet to be made public.
While this Thursday will see most in Melbourne’s live music scene rejoice, we get the feeling that The Tote’s resurrection is just the beginning of this sordid tale.