Earlier this week it was annouced that The Tote, an iconic Melbourne venue would shut its doors for good because of Victoria’s new liquor licensing laws.
While I can’t weigh into the argument with my own experiences with the venue because I’m still too young to get in, it’s extremely worrying that venues which support local music are being forced to shut down because of the government’s ridiculous new laws which were implamented to stop alcohol fueled violence.
I’m not denying that alcohol causes violence, because it can. But there’s a big difference between a King Street nightclub where people go just to get drunk and cause fights and small music venues where people go to see bands and have a beer or two. Unfortunately the government can’t seem to see the difference.
Venues are now being forced to pay higher liquor licencing fees, close earlier and hire security guards for all gigs including small acoustic shows. Small gigs don’t make all that much money and having to hire at leat two security guards means that we will see less live music because venue owners won’t be able to afford it.
While it’s sad to see one venue close, the most worrying thing is that it might be a sign of things to come. Melbourne boasts some the best live bands in the world, yet one day we might not be able to see them play live somewhere other than a warehouse. We live in a culture where huge amounts of money are put into sport, which also has its fair share of alcohol problems, and live music is almost totally ignored.
With the closure of a venue that supports young musicians chances are we’ll be seeing more violence.
The all ages scene in Melbourne is already dead. I just hope the rest of the live music scene doesn’t follow.