I have a strong affinity with the Gasometer. For a while, I lived above the Collingwood venue. Royal Headache played my wedding party in the back room, and for two years I booked bands there.
So when news sprang that the Gaso was to reopen after its sudden closure late in 2013, I was as excited as anyone who’d ever watched a band perform or drunk a Tecate in the front bar.
Shannon Vanderwert from Coburg’s Post Office Hotel and Clint Fisher from the Retreat Hotel in Brunswick have stepped in to revamp the Smith Street venue. The menu and decor may have changed, but the good news is that these two will continue to host live music seven nights a week.
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It’s obvious that money has been spent and hard work slogged. The space front of stage is now carpeted and the bathrooms have been scrubbed clean of graffiti and stickers representing hardcore punk bands. By far the biggest development is in the band room where a wall has been knocked down to open up the space. It is now a 350-person capacity room.
A new Nexo PA system and sound desk have been installed and the mezzanine level remains, though the retractable roof is now in operation, meaning future musical performances can be under the stars.
A separate ticket booth and entrance to the band room from Alexandra Parade has been set up. Some of the wall art is questionable, and it’s sad the smaller upstairs band room – where I witnessed some of the Gaso’s best gigs – will now be used as a private dining room. That said, live music remains an integral part of the venue.
Vanderwert says he respects the reputation that former Gasometer owner Kody Abrams had built, and understands the importance it held, especially for punk and indie bands. “We love what Kody did with the place and how he built an identity,” Vanderwert says. “We’ve retuned it a bit for what we need, but it’s still a pub, kitchen and band room.”
The band room has already been through a test run, hosting the album launch for Jamie Hutchings’ (of Bluebottle Kiss) new band, Infinity Broke, River Mirrors. The full music program, booked by Chas Jagger (from Bright Light Agency), officially kicks off with Tex Perkins’ band The Ape and La Bastard on May 24.
“We don’t want any one type of band in here,” says Fisher, when I ask what music will be booked. “We are keen to use the space for all genres. When the comedy or fringe festival comes along we want to book some of that in. There are not many rooms this size in Melbourne. The building could have easily been turned into apartments.”
He’s right. It’s a great thing that live music continues on the corner of Smith Street and Alexander Parade.
The Gasometer Hotel
484 Smith Street, Collingwood
Mon to Wed 3pm–midnight
Fri & Sat noon–3am