DIARY OF A MAD VENUE OWNER

Article by Shane Hilton

"The good thing is that no-ones here to tell me it’s a bad idea"

Photos by Shane Hilton

12:10am Thursday 24/09/2020:

I’ve just gotten into work.

The place I love so much has become a constant reminder of nothing. I can’t really remember what the fuck we are meant to do here. Sometimes, I don’t even know why we do what we do?

The Last Chance has always been about survival.

But back then, in the before times (which if I’m honest was just as hard as the last seven months) at least there was a distraction from the continuous battle to keep our heads above water.  No matter what I do now my entire being, every thought, every action, every waking minute is dedicated to making sure that this place is still here at the same time next year.

It’s created a living paranoia inside of me.

One wrong move and everything could just disappear.

I’ve been up since 6am the day before but I’m here. I’ve left Leanne and the Meows in bed.As I walked out the door she noticed I was in a foul mood about something. She didn’t even bother trying to find out. She just gave me a kiss and tried to make whatever was rattling around in my head seem a little bit better. But looking in her face you could see that she was feeling the stress just as much as me.

It isn’t easy on either of us but somehow, we keep pushing each other along through the next challenge.  

You have to.

If we’re not there for one another shit would turn south really quick.

We have to feed off one another. Taking all that shit the other person is feeling, digesting it into something good and spitting back into the others mouth like some sort of demented, flightless bird.

It’s fucked but it works.

But here I sit.

I’ve made an instant coffee and I’m looking at an empty screen and an empty stage.

As I write this, I’m rolling a cigarette out of my little Log Cabin tin and wondering what the fuck I’m doing. If there’s anything that the last 7 months have taught me it’s that you can’t think about that shit for too long.

The crippling depression is already bad enough without having to dwell on it.

You drag yourself up and just do what needs doing. It stops you thinking.

I’ve spent the last 6 hours in bed trying to relax but of course I found myself on my phone working.

It’s a constant in my life. I can’t remember all the jobs/responsibilities/headaches I have.

Plumber, electrician, sound guy, cleaner, chef, kitchen hand, delivery driver, PR and Marketing, photographer, graphic designer, website maker, bartender, social media manager, writer, reviewer, financial planner, security guard, taxi driver, interior decorator… Fuck, I honestly can’t think of them all.

I go to Costco once a week just to save 12 bucks because I know that equals $624 a year.

I’m a human calculator.

If there’s a problem I have to solve it.If there’s anything that has to be done, I have to do it. There is no task too small or too big. You just do it.

As hard as doing those million different things I have to do I know that there’s a purpose.

A greater good if you will.

I pull myself through the shit knowing that at the end of it I’m helping people create something that’s bigger than my bullshit. It’s a fucking amazing motivator.

 

Then there’s the other side of being in our position… coming up with all the ideas that keep us ticking along. What’s worse is that you somehow have to make them feasible. That’s the real killer.

If there’s one thing we’ve always done at the Last Chance that has always made me proud it’s that we do things our way.

There’s a whole heap of originality in what we do. You hear all the bullshit about businesses having to “pivot” with COVID.

We didn’t. We swung back.

I don’t know if it was instinct or our attitude or the passion that made us think “Oh! A pandemic? This might be a good time to get into doing music journalism”

Seriously… what fucking idiot thinks that? Surely, we had enough on our plate?

But in a lot of ways the whole thing has made me find something I never knew I’d lost.

For years I was so geared towards making sure that we kept the doors open that I think I forgot who I was. I started to forget who I was as a person. It sounds like a whole heap of dripping self-involved hippie crap but it’s true.

In the last couple of months, as I would sway between anger, frustration, unhappiness and every other feeling I’ve had since all of “this” started, I took myself through this fucked up self-analyses. I really questioned why the fuck I do the things I do?

I guess it all came down to one thing.

No matter how old I get I’m always going to be that scummy little teenage punk rocker.

Music is a liberator of the soul.

Sure, that sounds like a bunch of absolute horse shit as well but you really do find freedom in music.

Music is escapism from the drudgery of life, the shitty childhood, the ostracization of your youth and the myriad of supposed norms that are put in place by a world that wants to put you down.

Music allows you to be yourself.

It gives you the power to say “Fuck you! I’m going to be exactly who I am”

It gives you a taste of how you should treat yourself.

It teaches us how we should treat one another.

It’s about building a new community you can be a part of.

That’s some pretty powerful shit.

Being the owner of a live music venue allows me to contribute to people discovering these things.

You wouldn’t think it but when we first started down the long journey of wanting to create the Last Chance we put a fuck load of thought into exactly what we wanted to represent. The most important thing we wanted to do was create a place that was all inclusive. We didn’t want the Last Chance to be anything like we were used to. We wanted to be a melting pot of the entire music community.

A true representation of what we love about music.

No genre. No bullshit. No worries.

We didn’t want to slip into the trap of the high school pettiness that a lot of people like to carry through their lives.

You like punk? Fuck, I like punk!

You like metal? We dig metal as well!

Free Jazz? Front door’s that way my friend…

I love the pure Melbourne pop of RVG just as much as I love the bleak primality of a band of like Reaper. They’re two sides of the same coin that burns a hole in my pocket.

It was important that we could welcome everyone into our home and have them be who they wanted to be.

Afterall, despite all the differences that music allows us to have we all share a base commonality of loving the absolute shit out of that one thing that makes our lives so much more bearable.

Of course, there’s always a caveat.

It’s not like we’re going to let a Skrewdriver cover band up onstage to spew out a heap of shit.

The most amazing thing is that I think in our short time we actually managed to achieve it.

Which is no small feat.

Trying to balance your values with the complexities of running a business is no easy task.

In the middle of all this it’s even harder…

Some days I feel like I’m beating my head against a wall trying to get people to understand what the Last Chance (and ourselves as owners) represent in the grand scheme of things.

If there’s one thing that I hope you get from reading this rambling drivel of a half coherent idiot is that the odds are this little hole in the wall venue clinging like a scab to the CBD of what, at one stage, was the worlds most liveable city is there for all of you.

It’s a place people, no matter where they come from, where they’re going, what they’re saying or how they do it, can gather and celebrate the thing that makes our worlds go around.

And I suppose that’s a pretty fucking good reminder of why we do what we do.

2:02am 24/09/2020

I don’t know what the fuck I was writing up above…

What started out as an exercise to get the creative juices flowing as I inhaled caffeine and cigarettes just got a little out of hand.

Then halfway through writing a review for the Stiff Richards new single I thought “Fuck it… this could be entertaining?”

So, now I’m going to publish a rolling diary of my day.

Bring you down into the dark recesses of my mind.

It’s not pretty.

You’re going to have to put up with the shit I think about.

The good thing is that no-ones here to tell me it’s a bad idea.

You’re going to hear about everything.

From my struggle to meet deadlines, wondering whether it’s really worth ordering breakfast from Maccas, picking up Leanne, trying to figure out how to remove the stain in one of the toilets that has built up because of lack of use, ordering all the food for the weekend, forgetting the dozens of things and every single other thing that will plague me until I’m sent home for sleep.

Will you like it?

Probably not.

But I don’t give a fuck.

I’ve got nothing better to do.

YOU CAN HELP SUPPORT ROCK & ROLL MAGAZINE + THE LAST CHANCE

BY CLICKING HERE