Ian McKay - Fugazi
Over the 15 or so years that Fugazi circled the world playing concerts, a few patterns began to emerge. One of these was the personalities of the rooms that we were playing. As we began to draw larger crowds we ended up playing venues that only seemed to live when a show was on, as the size of the venues ruled them out as community spots. Even within the smaller rooms, the clubs and so forth, one could imagine that the life goes out of some of those buildings when the music stops.
But there are a few places that we had the pleasure of visiting that seemed to almost hum with personality. It was as if the spots were willing to take a break from their daily activity to let the band come on it and play some songs. I reckoned the Tote to be one of those joints. I don't know what happened there before we arrived, and i don't know what happened after we left, but i do know that in the short time that we were there, we were regulars, woven forever into the story. Carry on, Tote!
Kat Spazzy - Spazzys
I accuse the Tote of making me this way.
Paddy Donovan - The Age
I was was fortunate to spend my bux party at the Tote last year, which coincided with the Fitzroy Muscle Car Club's inaugural Xmas party. Some Powder Monkeys on the juke box, shiny muscle cars out the front, a Mai Thai upstairs at the Cobra Bar, and jumping around in the Tote pit to Legends of Motorsport and Dynamo, culminating in a rousing version of ''Sweat on the Tarmac''. No better place to end my bachelor days than then and there amongst fellow sweaty rock pigs.
Ray Ahn - Hard Ons
I always liked the Tote because it has always been full of good looking well dressed people with immaculate taste. I felt honoured to be among such rock n roll illuminaries. As a Sydneysider I always felt under dressed and daggy there but I always learnt something from there whether it be a sideburn here, a pointy boot there.
And the pinball machine instead of poker machines (Sydney pubs are full of one armed bandits and as an oriental, I can never resist them) is a classy touch.
Well done Tote and thank you.
Mick Collins - the Dirtbombs
In the future, teachers will lead classes of young'uns to the lucite-encased grounds of The Tote. "This", they will say, "is the epicentre of Australian ROCK", making the universal hand gesture of ROCK. "Now pay attention, this will be on the test: see that vomit stain?" And on it will go, and Australian youth will learn about ROCK, and where its home was in Australia.
Many Happy Returns, Tote! :)
Congratulations!!! 21th Anniversary!!
We will come back soon with Jet Rock'n'Roll from Tokyo.
Mark Arm - Mudhoney
The Tote made me very drunk. I'm told we played there. While we played, my friend Martin Bland held a chook raffle trying to raise money to get home to Adelaide. He raised so much money he moved to Seattle instead. That was my first chook raffle. I'm proud to have been a part of such a wildly successful and legendary rock'n'roll event.
Ronnie - 5, 6, 7,8's
The first shows the 126.96.36.199's ever played outside of Japan were in Australia.
We had a great Rockin' time at all the shows, but the best one was at the Tote. The crowd was crazy, so we went crazy too. The Tote is the true home of rock'n'roll.
We love the Tote!
Robert Eriksson - The Hellacopters
First time we were about to tour Australia one of the places stood out. Not only was the event called "Rock Against Work", it was held in the afternoon so people that had day jobs couldn't make it! The place is of course The Tote in Melbourne and we've had some VERY fun and VERY "confusing" times there for sure...see if I remember all the times...
First time was in October 1998 and it seemed we met all of the Australian rock scene that night. We played with the Powder Monkeys and Hellenic Zeal. It was HOT.
The next time we played there ("Rock Against Work" again) was in February 2000 together with Cosmic Psychos and The Yes-Men. It was even HOTTER, I remember that one as one of the hottest places I've ever played.
It might have been that we were not used to the indoor heat of a rock-club, because the show was thrown in between a bunch of outdoor festival gigs called the Big Day Out.
What I do remember was that the gig was the best one of that tour and definitely the longest one too! Last time we visited The Tote was in October 2002 when some of us saw the MC5 movie "A True Testimonial" upstairs. Great times!
See you again for sure!
Rob Snarski - Black Eyed Susans
The Tote is about the only hotel I've ever seen in Australia (or possibly the world) with Television's Marquee Moon on the jukebox.
It has a rich history, very rock, not-so-roll... it hasn't changed for years apart from the glorious Cobra Lounge upstairs... the jewel in the battered crown.
Link McLennan - the Meanies, Bakelite Age, the Egos, Wishbone knees, Golden Shower
I don't think any other Australian venue has been responsible for accumulating so many seminal moments for me over the years. Other venues can come and go but the Tote has truly stayed one of tI he true Mecca's of rock'n'roll. If this pub could speak, it would probably sound like Marlon Brando in the Godfather if he had not been in the mafia, had liked punk rock instead of Puccini, and had been a two story building in Collingwood. Anyway, i like it.
Richie - Tumbleweed
The Tote used to have a really high narrow stage and I was always worried I was going to fall off it, I noticed they've modified the stage and bottomless pit when I recently did a CryBaby session there, I like the sausage sizzles, the old gig posters and the beer . Happy 21st birthday Tote, it's been nice knowing ya.
The first gig we ever did was at the Tote (apart from peoples lounge rooms and back yards). It was with the Meanies and the Throwaways. We got $17.50 each and couldn’t believe how amazing it all was.
We all spent many an evening there. It was the breeding ground of most of the best bands in Melbourne and lot’s of brilliant stuff touring through, there was some shit as well of course. You could see a death metal band supporting a jangly pop band. It was great to have a venue that was strongly into live music. As we travelled we realised how lucky Melbourne was. It has the greatest juke box selection in Melbourne.
Clare Moore - the Moodists
Back in the early '80s The Tote was the ONLY pub behind enemy lines (north of the river) that the southern art rockers like "The Moodists", "The Feral Dinosaurs", & "The People with Chairs Up Their Noses",could infiltrate in order to plant our jolly roger flags in the berets of those panty-waist experimental plinky-plonk bands that were occupying Fitzroy at the time.
The Tote still stands today, a monument to rock music in all its forms and a warning to those musicians who may be thinking of plinking.
Dave Graney - The Moodists
I liked seeing the Crackajacks and any of the rockabilly acts that played there in the '80s.. A particular highlight was seeing the head of an international bike gang get up with the band and sing "Unchained Melody".
Adalita - Magic Dirt
We were discovered at the Tote. It was our big break!
We played our 10th birthday gigs at the Tote.
It's the best punk rock venue in Melbourne. Like us, it's a survivor!
Jack Tieleman - Lance Rock Records (Canada)
For me the Tote is Australian Rock. It is synonymous with the music I love.
My fondest memories are of the venue, the bands and most of all the people.
It's such a great place that it can make Richie Ramone's burnt BBQ offerings taste good.
Neil Wedd - Indie Initiative
The Tote has obviously been around forever. In the 80's it was one of the major building blocks for alternative bands. Great nights with the Corpse Grinders and Intoxica spring to mind. The Evan Dando period when the whole scene went mad and The Tote had songs written about it and its staff. The jukebox from heaven and people who care about music inhabit the place.
Ok..here are a few things that instantly spring to mind when I think of the Tote. The dunnies - the 'ladies' have always been terrible..good to see things have not changed much in the 21 years of the Tote's reign. I think of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy being there at a BBQ. I think of a a young Primal Scream coming to a 3RRR party there. I remember Arthur from the Corpse Grinders teaching me how to rock'n'roll dance at the Tote when the Crackerjacks played. The Tote has no bad memories for me, I don't recall ever having seen any agro or unpleasantness there.. Trevor from the Corpse Grinders stole a chair for me from the Tote, and put it in the cab boot. It was last seen at the back of my place in Warrnambool.
Seeing the Surrealists there was always a blast. Even when we were the only ones doing so, my friend Anna and I could not help but dance to them.. There was some kind of Mod Club upstairs in the 80's... a more psychedelic one.. Pyramid Club??? Prism??? Something beginning with "P"! Some pretty cool international acts played there... great for such a small venue.
Of course this was the site of my special Afternoon Delight Day, when several knights and ladies in shining/rusty armour came to my rescue and saved me from misery, enabling me to move to a new home and start a new, happier life.
Cam Macklin - The Cants
Venues come and go, some great, some not so great... some think turning a good rock n roll pub into a room full of couches pinched off nature strips during hard rubbish collection creates a "cool vibe".. but The Tote is The Tote, the home of rock n roll... its where I lost my musicial virginity.