To celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the SLAM (Save Live Australia’s Music) rally, Music Victoria speaks to those who were there at the frontline about their memories of the time and their observations over the passing years.
It’s a little-known fact that Melbourne musician Jade Imagine helped spearhead the 2010 rally to save The Tote. This rally precipitated the huge SLAM rally that followed. Jade fills us in…
1. What was your involvement in the live music lobbying and protests of 2010?
Around the time when we heard that The Tote was going to close, I was living above and running a music rehearsal space on Johnston Street in Collingwood with my bandmate at the time, Sarah Phelan. We could just see The Tote out of our bedroom window (lol yes, our bedroom – we shared a bedroom – divided down the middle by a couple of clothes racks. Anyway that’s off-topic…).
I remember us talking about how rattled we both felt, reflecting on how important this venue had been to ‘cut our teeth’ playing music and how integral to the DIY scene it was. So we got on Facebook and created an event titled “Save The Tote – Rally” or something to that effect.
We published the event and went on with our day. Later on we checked back to see how the event was going and there were something like 5000 people who’d clicked to attend the rally. Things escalated pretty quickly from there. I remember getting a phone call from Paris Martine saying we should start a discussion with the local police to ensure (and reassure) that it was going to be a peaceful protest.
2. Why did you get involved?
I just didn’t want The Tote to close – I couldn’t picture Melbourne without it! Honestly, never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that things would have come as far as they have. Evidently it was and still is something the entire community felt very strongly about!
3. Do you have any specific memories that you hold dear from that time? What are they?
I remember being ushered inside The Tote whilst the rally was in full force outside. It was just before Bruce Milne made a speech addressing the crowd through a megaphone from the second floor. I remember peering out of the office window upstairs at all the hundreds of people outside. It felt so special to see that many people showing just how much they cared about this single venue.
4. What lasting changes/impact do you think these events had on the live music scene in Melbourne?
Well, for one, keeping the doors open at The Tote for so many more amazing shows to take place. Plus the conception of SLAM; such an incredible organisation to have come out of this event and which has helped to continue the conversation about live music, venues and the challenges that all can face within the music industry.
5. Do you have any further comments whilst reflecting?
Just about how much I respect Quincy and Helen from Bakehouse for seeing an opportunity to take things further and create SLAM (Save Live Australian Music). That was a lot of work for them considering they were running their own business! Pats on backs all round.