Words by Kinch Kinski
Photography by Kinch Kinski
Laundry Bar is delivering a mid-week live music fix with Laundry Wednesdays.
A Fitzroy venue best known for hosting popular hip-hop and EDM nights across an upstairs and downstairs stage, most weekends see a lengthy queue of punters waiting to get in.
But owner Dave Barrett says his vision is of a music venue catering to all styles, not just club music. “I want Laundry Bar to be an overall music venue doing lots of different stuff, which was always my intention,” Barrett says.
In June 2014 Laundry Bar started running mini-residencies every Wednesday. The nights are known simply as Laundry Wednesdays and headliners have included up and coming local acts like Sammy Owen Blues Band, The New Pollution and international touring band Free Like Me.
Barrett acknowledges the challenges of getting a mid-week event off the ground. “I’ve been in this industry nearly 19 years and I’ve seen more venues close down or go broke in the last 12 months than in 19 years.”
But he is optimistic about the future of Laundry Wednesdays. The bar does well enough on weekends to subsidise the new venture in the short-term. Long-term, Barrett plans to raise the profile of the nights using the same methodology that has seen Laundry Bar’s weekends become so successful.
“Our methodology on the weekends was to deliver a lot of really large acts that people didn’t expect in a smaller room. We’re going to try and do the same modelling with the Wednesdays during Summer and the new year.”
At the moment there is no guaranteed pay for bands, instead punters pay $5 on the door and the bands split the take. Laundry Bar promotes the shows through gig listings, press releases and their impressive social media presence.
The venue employs an in-house sound engineer named George Doufalides who gives bands a full sound-check and stays on the sound desk throughout every set. Doufalides has been at Laundry Bar two and a half years, mixing almost every genre around and working with a 16-channel Allen & Heath mixing desk. Anyone who’s played a venue with no sound engineer or had to fork out $100 or more just to have someone on the desk knows that’s a sweet deal.
The stage downstairs is 4 metres by 4.5 and can be extended to accommodate bands of 10-12 members. The stage features a full LED lighting rig and a pumping set of Funktion-One speakers. On-stage Shure mics and stands are provided, plus high quality JBL foldback.
Barrett recommends that bands keen to play Laundry Wednesdays should go beyond the simple one-line email and CD drop-off. With ubiquitous online music hosting, relatively cheap video technology and cheap graphic design sites like Fiver, putting together a promotional package is within any band’s reach these days. It’s also a plus if you know what kind of night you want to put on.
Bookers want bands who are “resourceful enough to talk to mates that are in bigger bands. Then they can approach the venue and say ‘Hey, here’s a package.'”
Once a gig is booked – with Laundry Bar or anywhere else – promote it and promote it some more.
“Artists need to work hard on their promo and go back to old school methods: getting out and talking to people – ‘Hey, we’ve got a gig on you should come check us out, here’s a CD.'”
With promising residencies from popular acts Shelley Segal and That Gold Street Sound locked in for November and December, Barrett’s plan of boosting the night’s profile might start to pay off. The night’s liberality with regard to genre also has the potential to draw in punters and artists from many diverse scenes. With a little luck and a lot of hard work from the venue and the bands, Laundry Wednesdays could become a hit and the Fitzroy music scene would have one more jewel in its crown.
Contact Dave Barrett at: firstname.lastname@example.org