A black and white photo of Josh Davis – better known as crate-digging beatmaker DJ Shadow – rifling through a pile of seven-inch records greets guests on the way to a downstairs bathroom. Above the landing of the staircase hangs a framed copy of the Sunny Side Up album cover: a compilation of contemporary Melbourne jazz released in 2019 by tastemaker DJ Giles Peterson. Records are tucked into custom-built shelves, the sleeves’ predominantly white spines contrasting beautifully against the chestnut finish of the wood.
This is Astral Weeks, Perth’s first hi-fi listening bar, which opened in 2022 in a former Chinese medicine store. The intimate 60-seater venue caters to a “shared experience”, where music is the focus, not just background noise. The owners’ dedication to fine sound is evident in the bar’s Line Magnetic sound system, which fills the room with clean, crisp sound that’s punchy and crystal-clear, yet still conducive to conversation between people.
Despite the low-key, no-signage nature of the bar (it’s in the same laneway as late-night stalwart Billy Lee’s) the shop has been acoustically treated to create the perfect sonic environment. Notice the strategically positioned downlights, drawing attention to the bar and DJ booth. The fine details, down to the positioning of the speakers and how they work in the room, to the custom-built shelving, designed to showcase the hand-built hi-fi sound system. The owners’ combined record collection; in ode to an era before Spotify, iTunes and other streaming apps.
Paired with a neat selection of lo-fi wines, beers, and sake, the drinks are dispensed by a team of bartenders – all bar staff are musicians or DJs – all eager to share their musical passion. Entranced in rhythm and muse, the Northbridge bar is a quintessential haven for music lovers.