Brunswick’s brand new Bergy Bandroom is here at last and it’s been worth the wait

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Brunswick’s brand new Bergy Bandroom is here at last and it’s been worth the wait

Bergy Bandroom
Words by Kosa Monteith

Running alongside the Bergy Seltzer proper - that beloved hole-in-the-wall Brunswick local - this space will kick the Sydney Road gig scene into high gear.

It’s just what the northside arts scene needs according to Brodie J Brümmer, co-owner and production manager of the new bandroom, who says it’s the perfect size to fill a highly sought-after venue niche. Follow the Bergy Bandroom on Facebook and Instagram here.

“It’s 200 ticket capacity, which makes it a middle ground sort of space,” Brodie says. “A big-small or small-big venue.”

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Small-big suits the Bergy just fine. A famously cosy slip of a spot, the main bar next door has managed to pack the crowds in every night of the week for the regular gigs, DJ sessions and the long-running Funny Near The Brunny open mic comedy. The new bandroom will extend that capability, while still allowing smaller and emerging acts to sell out as easily as big ones.

Stripping it back and taking on a blank slate of the empty warehouse space, they’ve been able to build Sydney Road’s ideal, acoustically tailored gig venue from the ground up. And co-owner David “Frankie” Cudmore said it’s been a labour of love for the whole Bergy team.

“We’re really lucky that we got to build our perfect venue,” Frankie says. “Our passion is live music and having a good time. We enjoy what we do, which is good and bad because we end up being part of the party. The funniest part of this whole experience was our scribbles. At the start we all sat down with a floorplan of the new space and sketched out our ideas, drawing, moving things around, throwing one out and going to the next one.”

“Having all those different schools of thought is definitely a positive when it comes to this kind of thing,” Brodie adds. “Looking at someone else’s idea for the venue and going, ‘Oh my gosh I never in a million years would have thought of that’, so what we’ve ended up with is a mix of ideas that just worked.”

As audio pros, it was a priority for Frankie and Brodie to get a full acoustic report of the venue from the get-go. The entire space, once cavernous, has been exquisitely primed for your auditory experience. The walls are sound-treated and curtained, there are absorbers in the ceiling and an airlock between the bandroom and the new beer garden out the back, effectively creating a noise buffer. A comfortably sized green room leads directly to the stage. Nothing has been overlooked in the careful construction of the Bergy bandroom.

“We’ve had a few delays, but it’s all coming together now,” Brodie says. “To our benefit being a business coming out of the rough time, council was all-in-all quite good to deal with.”

“Our response to objections, people who were worried about noise possibly coming from bigger gigs, is that we genuinely believe it’s helping make your part of Brunswick a better place,” Frankie said. “It’s an end of Sydney Road that has a lot of empty shop fronts right now, but we’re looking forward to seeing it come alive. It’s a cool area, and businesses in Brunswick take pride in how they present themselves.”

There’s still that ragtag authenticity of the Bergy-Brunswick spirit in the new fit-out: carpet tiles salvaged from a cricket supply store, a rustic bandroom bar made from reclaimed wood. Part of the wooden track from the building’s former life as a slot car racing venue will even make its way into the decor.

“There are different zones, and a flow-through,” Brodie said. “You go in, see the band, move out to the beer garden or front bar for a different experience again. We’re looking to cater this bandroom bar to the gigs, knowing the artists and their audiences and what the different crowds like.”

The wall between the two beer gardens will be knocked through to create one outdoor area, with retractable roofing to adapt to the ever-changeable Melbourne weather. Even under cover, the greenery features, lofty ceilings and tropical palm wallpaper will create that light, airy atmosphere so coveted in an urban beer garden. Bright and summery, but protected.

And the front bar, a fiercely loved haunt of the locals, will expand the cocktail offering and slip a few more boutique spirits onto the shelves. They’ve already started developing the menu with a new mocktail list. Plus, with gigs moving over into a dedicated bandroom, the space in front of the little kitchen will be freed up, offering some exciting potential for bar food.

“It’ll be a case of finding the right cuisine and the right person who is passionate about it,” Frankie said. “Everyone here at the Bergy is so passionate. We’re the band and booze people, but we’re keen for someone to try out a menu here. Experiment with a pop-up, if they’ve got a plan they want to test and it works with us.”

The new bandroom itself opens to the public on the weekend of the Sydney Road Street Party, with the first gig on Friday March 3.

“The festival is huge,” Frankie said. “It’s not every day you get 100,000 people walking on the street and through the door. We’re the first port of call at this end of Sydney Road. We’ll have a stage set up in the lane for KISS FM – bands and DJs, a lot of different genres, Bergy style.”

With performers already booked into the bandroom for the opening weeks, 2023 is looking like an exciting year. Will these fresh digs and bigger gigs change the Bergy we love? Nope: it’s still booze, music and good times that the Bergy is famous for. Same Bergy, better acoustics, more elbow room. That’s all. It’s the kind of venue artists will look forward to playing, because they know everything has been taken care of, from the ground up.

“Everyone’s amazed with what we’ve managed to do here,” Frankie said. “We’re trying to cater for what we would want in a venue. When we open up, there’s going to be even more learning. After the Sydney Road festival, we’ll start with gigs in the new bandroom on Friday and Saturday, then eventually every day of the week. We want to build something here that goes for the next 20 years, or more.”

Head to the Bergy Seltzer website here and follow Bergy Bandroom on Facebook and Instagram. You can also stay tuned by following the Bergy Seltzer on Facebook and Instagram

This article was made in partnership with The Bergy Seltzer.