A love letter to Revolver Upstairs, and the epic variety they put on each and every week

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A love letter to Revolver Upstairs, and the epic variety they put on each and every week

Revolver Upstairs
Words by Tyler Jenke

It’s almost impossible to imagine the culture of Melbourne without mentioning Revolver Upstairs.

Colloquially known to its many attendees as Revs, the Chapel Street venue and nightclub has been synonymous with the city’s late-night vibe ever since it first opened its recognisable doors back in 1997.

Ask anyone who’s spent a night out in Prahran, and they’ll likely have a story about Revolver Upstairs and the many memories made there. Alongside the high-energy nightclub antics that come packaged with any mention of Revs, much of the attention is paid to the music the venue has hosted, whether it be the who’s-who of influential Melbourne artists that make up its resident DJs, or the laundry list of famed names who have performed there.

Keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

Varied and influential names like Fatboy Slim, Fred Again.., The Avalanches, Pendulum, Bicep, Mix Master Mike, June Of 44, The Presets, and Jane’s Addiction’s Perry Farrell – just to name a few – can boast appearances there, and that’s without mentioning the famous folks who have ventured up the stairs as regular punters.

But like almost every venue, Revolver Upstairs has its misconceptions, and while the average Melburnian might know it as a live venue or a notorious nightspot, that completely overlooks the variety put on offer by the southside locale.

A pillar of Melbourne’s art scene

Monolink, photographed by @robertchanphotography

As the venue themselves say, they’re proud to wear a lot of hats, with 24-hour nightclub, band room, Thai restaurant, and arts space all falling under the Revolver Upstairs umbrella. Alongside its prominent poster wall on the back bar which showcases monthly works from artists, to the quarterly artworks that adorn its Seasons Of Change art events and smokers paradise, they’ve hosted plenty of variety within those storied walls.

From a Q&A and exhibition with photographer Martha Cooper, to local skate crew video screenings, you can also find weekly trivia, Tuesday night band room hula-hooping sessions, 3181 Locals night on Thursdays. That’s – of course – without looking at its annual skate ramp event 31 Sk8 1, the yearly COILS tattoo art expo and exhibition, and their Revolver Upstairs Records label, which has been releasing music from local and international acts for five years now.

As Revs say, they love to work with the local community to bring all genres and sounds together, including a close relationship with Union Heights, which has more recently been complemented by a dive back into the hip-hop and arts scene.

The iconic bandroom

Union Heights, photographed by @nathanccp 

Of course, the iconic bandroom can’t be overlooked either, with the 320-capacity room hosting acts of all sizes on their renowned caged stage. Alongside an appearance from local hip-hop icons POSSESHOT, high profile events such as a secret show from hardcore outfits like Alpha Wolf and Perth mainstays Extortion (presented by Brick and Mortar) have also sold out, resulting in high-energy affairs that have proven that Revolver Upstairs isn’t just a place for electronic music on the dancefloor.

Even a cursory look at their upcoming roster of events proves the sort of diversity and variety on the Revs roster. Alongside the soulful strains of six-piece outfit Soulutations and the “4 peace groove train” that is Wobbygong, you can find the blistering punk/metal/hardcore of DREGG, and the EMO AF celebration.

Meanwhile, there’s the Techno&co skate screening and music lineup, the dark psychedelia of SCARES, and the launch of iconic producer Jase Beathedz’s highly anticipated album, BEATHEDZ VOL2.

For almost 30 years now, Revolver Upstairs has been one of the most iconic, celebrated, recognised, and notorious names on the Melbourne nightlife scene, but while a level of infamy might be associated with the very mention of its moniker, there’s no denying the legacy its curated, and the potential it has going into the future.

While the average punter might be drawn to its beloved club status, its long-running Revolver Sunday parties, or its highly-regarded Thai restaurant, it’s impossible to look past the diverse and varied artistic flair that Revs has brought to Prahran for years.

With so much more left in the tank, and with plenty of new and exciting events filling up their bandroom’s calendar in the coming weeks and months, it’s hard to keep up with everything happening at Revolver Upstairs. But maybe the key to their unending activity and admirable work ethic comes down to one simplistic self-admission; “We do it for the love, the music, and the good times.”

Follow Revolver here and check out their upcoming gigs here.