The Bendigo Hotel

Bars , Pubs Collingwood Free
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The Bendigo Hotel
Photograph: Tiffany Palermo

The hard rockers of Melbourne have a Collingwood stronghold

Decorated with skulls, red-tinted stage lights and skateboard decks, the Bendigo is presided over closely by the gods of hard rock. These are not the kind and generous gods of your Meredith Festival, nor the flower-clad and saffron-robed ones your parents remember fondly from the days of your conception, before they cut their hair and put on a suit. No, these are the vengeful Viking gods of old who demand sacrifice in blood from tatts and piercings, who drink Jack Daniel’s, who lost their hearing years ago from exposure to constant distortion.

Owner Guy Palermo is a true believer, persevering through hard times after buying the Bendigo six years ago and eventually teaming up with band booker Dave Collins, well known in the hard rock arena. The hardcore, metal and punk scene is a major artery through which the lifeblood of Melbourne live music flows, and the Bendigo is now its beating heart, growing steadily over the years in an atmosphere of family and community. While many lament the death of countless live music pubs, Melbourne’s hard rock fans are doing something about it: going out, supporting their mates, promoting their gigs and spending money in the venues that give them a stage.

That stage at the Bendi is home to a constant line-up of shows, and while you often have to pay a meagre cover ($10 for five bands on a recent visit) to access the band room, you can hear the kids thrashing and screaming almost as well from the front bar. But you may as well pay the cover – it’ll be worth it to see them sweat and to stand face to face with the power of rock as the kick drum confuses your heart beat. Who cares if these guys are a bit off key on a death-metal cover of the Killers’ ‘Mr Brightside’ when they hand the mic into the crowd for the chorus? This is pub. This is rock. Live it or go home.

Venue name: The Bendigo Hotel
Address: 125 Johnston St
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 3pm-3am
Transport: Nearby stations: Collingwood; Victoria Park
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