Geddes Lane Ballroom
It’s certainly a weird recipe. Take Melbourne’s most famous chef and one property magnate, inject them into an old strip club and add a couple of smoke machines. Congrats, you just built Geddes Lane Ballroom (GLB)
This is the new live music venue from superstar chef Shannon Bennett and Lorenz Grollo (yes, of the Melbourne Grollos). It’s opened up inside the bluestone walls of Geddes Lane, just off King St. In fact, the venue used to be the old Showgirls 20...if that tongue-like runway stage looks at all familiar.
Your first question might be: why? Well Bennett has always been a bit of a music fiend, and the Grollos now own half of King St. Cleaning up this part of the CBD (by opening a very respectable live music venue) will have a flow-on effect for rentals and property prices. It’s just good business. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun too.
“A live music venue has always been a plan for me,” says Bennett. “I’ve got a lot of friends in the industry. But I noticed there’s a gap for small bands looking to get their music out there. So when Lorenz approached me, I was like, let’s do something.”
GLB is a three-storey venue, and Bennett is excited to be digging back to the building’s roots. John Farnham and INXS played here when it was the Grainstore Tavern back in the 1980s.
“The old fit-out was still there, just hidden away,” Bennett says. “We’ve spent the last four months restoring it. Now it’s ready to roll.”
The plan is to make GLB a springboard for hot local talent, although Bennett hasn’t ruled out some big name touring acts down the track. A quick glance at the upcoming gig sheet shows Kyle Lionhart, Augie March and Harbey Sutherland are in the pipeline (and selling fast). That should give you a rough idea of the vibe.
In terms of fit-out, the guys have done an amazing job. Of course it helps with you have arched stain-glass windows, bluestone bones and wooden dado panelling on the walls. If you get peckish, Bennett is setting up a Benny Burger food truck out front, and says he’s going to install a variety of new-wave vending machines (they’re shipping over a pizza machine from Japan as we speak).
The real place you want to be at GLB is the 300-capacity Band Room. This is the venue’s beating, thumping, guitar-shredding cortex, with one hell of a gabled roof. We were there on launch night, watching Shannon rock out to the lights and smoke with a raving good crowd.
Maybe this isn’t such a weird idea after all...
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis