The bandroom at Mamma Chen’s can fit around 90 people on a good day, which places it among the smaller music venues in Melbourne. But, in a real sense, this Footscray spot for live music makes room for everyone.

Mother-and-daughter duo and co-owners Emily and Linda Chen wanted the heritage-style pub to be as inclusive as possible. So after they took over the former Dancing Dog Cafe in 2020, they did a major refurb. They ripped out the colourful beer garden’s astroturf, added a deck and created a new entrance with an accessible ramp. Inside, they widened the doorways, installed an accessible toilet and created a dedicated space for wheelchairs during gigs.

That accessibility spills over to the drinks list, too. The generous selection of non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits makes it obvious that any us-and-them rock’n’roll tropes don’t fly here. There is, of course, alcoholic beer too, with the house draught always priced at $18 a jug.

Generous beer jugs and an accessible fit-out aren’t the only thing Mamma Chen’s offers up. It’s also a great place to see up-and-coming musos. Emily (who has played in bands since they were 14) and Linda wanted to create a spot that nurtures the west’s ever-burgeoning music scene. The program of acts is diverse and isn’t restricted by genre or stature. Featured styles have included funk, hardcore, “dolewave” and even Slovenian noise synth.

Contact Details

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Updated: October 16th, 2023

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