Reinvention is nothing new. And with the closure of many live music venues it’s becoming increasingly clear that for the music scene it may be a matter of evolve or die. The Standard is well aware of this and its newest incarnation, Standard Bowl, will bring Sydney a laid-back venue where punters can go to bowl, see live bands and just chill out. The best part? It’s all free.

“I always wanted it to be an evolving space,” says part owner Paddy Coughlan. “We get bored easily, I guess.” The former ticketed music venue now offers four bowling lanes, a live music stage and classic bar favourites pool and pinball. With these features giving it a leisure-lounge vibe, Standard Bowl is set to become the type of place you can easily lose a few hours in.

Audiences are demanding more from the gig experience and so there are benefits to a space that offers broader entertainment. “With non-ticketing or free shows the gig is a lot more part of the venue as a whole, not just a dark room off to the side. The punter engages with the pub a lot more and it becomes part of the venue’s appeal, not the whole reason for being,” says Coughlan.

Standard Bowl is still committed to music, though. “I love live music and I love going to gigs, so I’m a perennial supporter of the scene in general,” says Coughlan. And to prove his undying love, the venue opened with three nights of bands including Wolf & Cub, Palms and Jenny Broke the Window – proving that just because the music is free doesn’t mean its not quality. “The big caveat is the bands have to be good,” says Coughlan. “Free shit is still shit.”

Standard Bowl
Level 3, 383 Bourke Street, Surry Hills

Wed 6pm-1am
Thu-Sat 6pm-3am
Sun 6pm-12am