NOT THEIR LAST CHANCE
THANKS TO THE SUPPORT OF THEIR COMMUNITY, LAST CHANCE IS ON ANYTHING BUT.
By Georgia Hogge
The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar has long been known as one of the foundational venues of Melbourne’s thumping live music scene. Over the last five years, Last Chance has become a haven for both punters and performers alike. The hard work and passion of it's owners Shane and Leanne has proved instrumental in the cultivation of the venue's thriving sense of community and vibrance. A place of refuge from the mundane hum-drum of everyday monotony.
For some, myself and friends included, Last Chance was considered to be a second home. Whether we were huddled in the corner over a cup of tea and a game of connect four or being peeled from the walls in the early hours of Sunday morning, we always felt safe to express ourselves. Safe and sound proofed.
"you go to a gig there and you always feel welcomed"
My first delivery of the evening was Shaun (42), who had been ordering Last Chance’s infamous fried chicken every Friday and Saturday night, at 7pm on the dot, without fail. When asked where his undying love and commitment to Last Chance stemmed from, he chipped, “you go to a gig there and you always feel welcomed. As someone who has a bit of social anxiety, I could sometimes walk in there and order a drink without saying a word which is great. I’m a photographer and I love taking photos at gigs. It’s part of my way of dealing with that social anxiety, it gives me something to occupy myself and ignore the crowd. I love going to see my friends play, the guys from Clowns and Hanny J,’’ he stated whilst sporting a Hanny J t-shirt.
I loved hearing Shaun take the opportunity to give a little shoutout to his musically inclined friends. At my next destination, as I passed Amelia (32) and Sam (26) over their vegan HSP’s, I was eager to keep the same momentum.
Me: “So, do you have friends who play at Last Chance? You can name drop for the purpose of the article.”
Sam: “Oh, you know, Kanye and stuff’ (laughs).”
Amelia: “Oh, my friend Quintin Trembath played a few gigs there.”
Sam: “Quintin’s going to be stoked you think he’s a big name drop.”
Amelia: “Well I’m just trying to think of friends who played there!”
Sam: “Gav, from Frowny Dads. Antonia from Pocket Money. Gav, who was organising the show that we were doing said that he loves working with Last Chance because it’s just super easy, which is incredibly helpful because most of us can’t organise our way out of a wet paper bag.”
Amelia: “They always supported my friends’ bands and they always hosted very interesting gigs as well. Always had fantastic food, drinks were reasonably priced, the bar tenders were lovely. It just was a bit of a home for us to go and hang out with our friends on the weekend.”
Then there was the live music. The sacred live music. The walls of Last Chance echoed with the ghosts of guitar solos past. They would hang in the air and fill your lungs in those desperate gulps above the heat of the mosh, song by song and set by set. Punters would pilgrimage, pool and clamber into this cathedral of theirs. Dripped in beer and sweat, perfect strangers became perfect friends. Sadly though, due to the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, live music ceased and venues like Last Chance had to adapt.
For the last six months, Shane and Leanne have been slinging some of the best fried chicken Jobkeeper money can buy. From their home to yours, Last Chance volunteers would zip around the city delivering greasy goodies to cure those isolation blues. On my rounds, I had the chance to chat to some of their lovely customers about the ways in which they’ve felt supported by Last Chance and, in turn, what it meant to them to help carry this dear business through the pandemic.
After six months, with the prospect of reopening on the horizon, Shane and Leanne have hung up their aprons (for now) so here’s a retrospective look at their journey, told by those who loved and supported them.
I said goodbye to Sam and Amelia and headed back to Last Chance. Waiting for me was a huge order for a very hungry share-house of personal friends and I zoomed off to deliver it to them. I was met at the door by a smiling Brenton (24).
“I think that Last Chance is a relatively important institution in the local Melbourne music scene. I know that lots of my friends who are in bands have played their first gigs there. I think that it’s a really important steppingstone venue and I think that venues like that are a really important part of the scene because not everyone gets to just rock up and play the Tote. I have a lot of appreciation for the role that they play in the community and that’s why I’m happy to support them.”
As Shane has said “The Last Chance has always known what purpose it serves to the local music community. We’ve never been the place superstar, hot as shit, famous as fuck rock stars jump on stage every week to draw in the masses. We’re a venue who has always been there for you, your friends and the bands. It’s a place for the Freaks, Fiends & Losers.”
I thought I’d try and track down some of these ‘freaks, fiends and losers’ so at my next delivery destination I took the opportunity to have a chat to Chloe (24).
Me: “Something that people have bought up tonight is that they feel that Last Chance is a really good starting platform for up and coming musicians. Do you have any friends that have played shows down there?”
Chloe: “Yeah I know a few bands who have played there. The Bad Bad Randys, that was great, they’re good friends of ours. Also, Snotty and the Snot Grubs, that was really, really, great!”
I had a chance to speak to the members of both The Bad Bad Randys and Snotty and the Snot Grubs about how instrumental Last Chance has been in elevating their musical careers, and what they love about the venue.
Edan, Denzel and Aaron (TBBR): “Sadly, the one chance The Bad Bad Randys had to play at Last Chance was, in fact, our last. Piling into the band room to watch the other bands playing that night gave us a sense of energy and immediacy. We were dying to get on stage straight away. It’s a wonderfully intimate space, and the pit invites anyone who can get off the stage and into the crowd to do so- and a couple of us took the opportunity. We felt like we had a chance to make an impression at Last Chance. You’re right there with the punters and your band mates and the spot-on vibe of a true dive bar. We’re incredibly grateful to have been able to play before the clusterfuck that is 2020, and truly hope to be able to do so again.”
Tish (SATSG): “I really love that as a venue they encompass elements of DIY while still maintaining a strong live set up. I don’t think any other venues are set up just to let first timers come and play. I feel like it was an amazing experience, learning how to load in, set up and do soundcheck.”
Hunter (SATSG): “It’s such a judgement free environment. One of the hardest things about making music is having the courage to actually share it, and Last Chance is one of the few places that really encourages that first step for Melbourne bands. It’s just one of the most rewarding venues in Melbourne to play and a big part of that comes from the sense of community.”
Becky (SATSG): “Ditto to both! Last Chance was super welcoming to play at and the stagehands and sound techs were also super kind and helpful whilst still being professional. It’s generally such a grouse venue to attend a gig, there’s such a strong feeling of comradery and good vibes!”
The amount of love expressed for this truly special hole in the wall over the course of the evening was astounding and humbling. On my very last delivery of the night I had the opportunity to speak to Ash (22) about the value of digging deep and giving back to a venue who, with our support, will hopefully be around for many more years, enriching the Melbourne music scene.
“Shane and Leanne do an incredible job of making sure that Last Chance is somewhere that you can enjoy live music, hang out with mates and have a meal. Whether it’s buying a pint or two a month, buying a t-shirt or some tasty wings or HSP, it’s honestly a small price out of your pocket to keep such a holy place alive, especially when so many other bars are struggling and closing down.”
It’s no secret that this is a trying time for venue owners like Shane and Leanne and if you’re interested in continuing to support them on their road to reopening, you can visit their website https://www.thelastchance.com.au/shop
Grab yourself a t-shirt, tote bag, beverage voucher (redeemable upon reopen) or be a good egg and donate in the form of purchasing one of their Pint Packs, equivalent to either one, two or three pints a month, for six months. If you can afford to, pour some of that sweet Jobkeeper money back into an industry that so desperately needs it and, furthermore, a venue who has always been there for the community it loves.