Jet, the Drones, Hoss, Spiderbait, You Am I, the Birthday Party, Courtney Barnett and Camp Cope are among Australian groups who have filled the venue’s band room, while international acts have included the White Stripes, Mudhoney and the Lemonheads.
Former publican Bruce Milne shut the doors in mid-January 2010 after new “high risk” conditions for Melbourne venues were introduced under Victoria’s liquor licensing laws. Milne said the cost of meeting new requirements, including additional security staff and CCTV, was not financially viable.
“I have simply run out of money,” Milne said at the time, after running the venue for nine years.
A month later a crowd of 20,000 live music fans, musicians and venue owners marched to state parliament for the SLAM (Save Live Australia’s Music) rally, to oppose laws that were crippling live music venues.
Six months after Milne shut The Tote’s doors, business partners Perring, Crupi and the late Andy Portokallis re-opened the venue. COVID-19 lockdowns again forced the venue to shut its doors in March, 2020, and soon afterwards Perring spoke about the difficulties facing venue operators.
During the early stages of Melbourne’s lockdown, The Tote’s owners were among other venue operators that started a GoFundMe campaign to help keep the venue operating.
The owners of The Tote have been contacted for comment.
A cultural guide to going out and loving your city. Sign up to our Culture Fix newsletter here.