Viva La Crowbar; A Toast To Brisbane’s Home Of The Heavy

You know that feeling when something is ripped from you without any prior warning and you just get this sad, sickening feeling that rocks you to your core? Well my friends, that is how I feel about the devastating news that COVID-19 has hit very close to home for us here in Brisbane with Crowbar announcing that after 8 long and heavy years, they’ll be unfortunately closing their doors indefinitely for the foreseeable future.

In a statement online, the owners dropped the bombshell last night stating:

It is with a heavy heart that we have had to make the unfortunate decision to pull Crowbar out of Brisbane for the foreseeable future. Over 8 years poured into Brisbane’s live music scene, with 7000 plus bands on our stages. We’ve shared thousands of gigs, good times, beers, shots, singalongs, laughs, hugs, tears and triumphs with friends from all around the world. These are trying times for the music and entertainment industries and the future is uncertain for a lot of us, but we hope to be back in Brisbane sometime with a very loud bang. For now, we’re still here online and in Sydney.

For anyone who has ever attended a show in Brisbane, chances are it was at this establishment OR you met for post-gig drinks with your mates afterwards and managed to meet new gig buddies for life, rub shoulders with your fav acts or just have a cheeky Crowbar pint all to yourself. This was Brisbane’s home of the heavy and to see it closing up just kills… I can’t even articulate better words because it hurts too much thinking about it.

Since relocating to Brisbane in 2015, Crowbar and their Crew became my home away from home during a dark period of my life I’m surprised I made it through. My sanctuary when shit was going wrong in my life and with my radio career and my safe haven after coming out to the world (I even took a guy on a date there who didn’t like heavy music and shared a kiss with him in one of the booths and NO ONE BATTED AN EYELID!!!) That’s what I mean, this place was ours, those who went there knew it and the people they brought along to experience it for the first time, were swiftly welcomed with open arms and cheap PBR cans.

The bands were the drawcard, there was something special about catching an upcoming band on their album/single tour a few times, only to see them blossom into the unstoppable force they became later on. The walls were plastered with gigs of yesteryear and it was always great going to the toilet (I have a point, keep reading) and sussing out the names on previous gig lists to see who had played and where that band was now. There was always a great feeling of pride knowing you caught those bands in their early years at Crowbar and eventually saw them playing bigger venues only a few short years later.

But also, you’d end up rubbing shoulders with them at the bar not long after because Crowbar was the place to be, if you were anyway involved with the heavy music scene. I remember having a big old chat with Beartooth frontman Caleb Shomo following the last stop on their Disease Tour last year and it didn’t seem like he was an idol or this guy who literally saved my life, he was just another punter at Crowie having a drink, chatting to fans and a sneaky dart out the front, much like any/all of the band members you may have met there! This place made everyone an equal… unless you took to the stage in any way shape or form.

Crowieoke was an exciting addition as NO OTHER VENUE was offering us all the chance to scream along to our favourite heavy songs without getting kicked out of the RSL… (a story for another day) and to go from a punter, decked out in KISS attire for a 50th Birthday, to eventually co-hosting it with Pricey from The Faction was a dream come true moment. The joy we had, joining others singing along at that place, could not be replicated by another bar, ever.

crowbar kayd

Old Crows. Photo: Kaydan Howison

But, it was also the place where Wall of Sound‘s earliest conceptions and business plans took place (the banner for this article was taken during High Tension‘s show there by our very own metal maiden photog Charlyn Cameron). We set up shop there during every BIGSOUND attended, conducting meetings, interviews, seeing band showcases and, not to forget, downing Long Island Iced Teas at 1am during a secret WAAX set, shout out to those who remember THAT night… If it wasn’t for this establishment, chances are we wouldn’t have grown as fast as we did, meeting and networking with so many legends from the heavy music scene. Crowbar helped our site find its identity and you better believe once we found that, we made sure we were attending as many gigs as we could there, to keep that legacy alive.

But don’t just take my word for it, some of the Wall of Sound staff have their own eulogies to share:

Tamara May (@citylightstam)
Assistant Editor/Head of Album Reviews/Writer (Bris)

My first time at Crowbar Brisbane was also the first gig review I shot and wrote for Wall of Sound! It was Heroes For Hire’s reunion show in 2018, and I fell in love with the place from that first night! It felt like Sydney in the good ol days of Trash/Hot Damn (but way better!) and a lot like many of the bars I visited in North America. Since then, I made countless weekender trips from Darwin to attend shows and DJ events for AM//PM from Windwaker to Beartooth to Crossfaith before eventually moving to Brisbane permanently.

My most recent memories of Crowbar include AM//PM New Years Eve (last event at the old Crowbar venue), DJing with Between You and Me, annnnd my last Crowbar show being Wage War & Crystal Lake! Don’t think I’d be where I am today without having Crowbar Brisbane as a place to venture out most weekends as my escape! 

Caitlin MacDonald (@cait_2tone)
Writer/Gig Enthusiast (Bris)

Where do I even begin, this news has broken my poor little emo/alternative/metal/goth heart. Many a night, I smoke bombed my friends at a basic venue and escaped to Crowbar where I got to hear songs I liked and request songs by Alexisonfire and AFI. It was where my partner and I drank together in the early days of our relationship, and we planned on having our wedding reception there. The fact that The Church only fit 60 people was such a great excuse to keep my wedding small. Crowbar, I am going to miss you, and I hope there will be another bar that I will walk into and immediately feel at home, although it will never be quite the same.

You just always felt like you were with friends at Crowbar whether you knew them or not, and the conversation was so easy to find from randoms who felt like a family of strangers. Music has always been important to me, and Crowbar wasn’t just a pub or a venue for bands to play, it was a living, breathing entity filled with music. Crowbar is partly responsible for the incredible start I have gotten in the music industry and everything I do music-wise from here on out will be in part due to Crowbar. I will miss you; hopefully, it is not goodbye forever, but if it is- I will look at my Crowbar Cult Card with fondness.

Bec O’Reilly (@bec.belles)
Writer/Photographer (Gold Coast)

Crowbar. It’s not very often I venture up the track to Brisbane but for some shows, it’s worth it. I’ve been to a few at Crowbar now but the first is still my favourite. Without that show, I may never have started shooting for Wall of Sound and all the amazing things I have done with WOS since. That first show I went to was a bit of a game changer for me. A mate’s band was playing along with some other local bands (Vow to Conquer, Upon the Pyre and Kold Creature) and had invited me along to check it out and to take some photos (of course!).

Apart from the fact it was a rather epic venue to look at once you got inside and the great service, it also the night I met our editor Browny. He saw my photos, sent me a message and the rest is history! I had a ball that night (and every night at Crowbar). I lost my phone (without knowing I lost my phone). I left it somewhere I can’t remember now – but I do remember is that they rang my mum to find out what I looked like so they could track me down and give it back. They did. How awesome is that!? It’s heartbreaking to see another music venue that showcases heavy music, a venue that supports local bands and the local music scene, and a venue that had so much effort put into it, go under. The calibre of artists that have graced through their doors has been nothing short of stellar. The loss of music venues and live shows is hitting us all so hard. Thanks for the fun times Crowbar! We will miss you!

There were experiences like no other at Crowbar including secret late-night sets from acts (remember that Pagan show, holy fuck!!), unintentional meet & greets (and consequential all night drinking sessions with your fav bands) and even chance meetings with amazing new friends after trying to ditch them with the weird guy who kept asking for cigarettes, amongst other things… (love you Gemma).

It wouldn’t be a send off without an anecdote from the staff behind the scenes, so we reached out to the former Wizard in Hiding, booker/bearded wonder Denis Hogan (@_d_man_), to share something his own stories from over the years…

Where do I start????….. It feels like a family member passing away.

Crowbar Brisbane has been my home for the last 8 years, I had been bookings shows before it was even called Crowbar. But it was very poorly managed as Basement 243, and with Trad coming in to clean everything up. I had high hopes for the music community in Brisbane! Crowbar was the place to be in Brisbane! It didn’t matter what style of punk, metal or rock was playing that night, you could walk in and know you had mates at the Bar!

I do remember one day while working at the pencil factory and booking Crowbar, Trad sent me a message saying “look at the calendar – June” That motherfucker managed to get THE BRONX for 2 nights! Holy shit! What am I in for at Crowbar!

We’ve had some of the world’s best bands play in those 4 walls at 243 Brunswick Street, Huge internationals and instate bands! But never gives aways from seeing a Frenzal Rhomb show or even to see THE QUICKENING play!

But the most memorable memory will be the Gig of the Century. I had a 4ZZZ carpark booked for The Smith Street Band, but the weather was shit. Trad managed to get TSSB over to Crowbar the next day with Violent Soho, High Tension and more. We had had 6 hours to make this happen! WE DID! Such a crazy day, all the techs jumped in straight in and got everything done! Much love to Shane Wilcox, Brad Fulton and Boo. We had to borrow kegs from other bars, but we got shit done!

Shout out to Violent Soho and WAAX families for helping work with an awesome soundtrack in the background. Also…. Shout out to Dune Rats, for just being absolute legends and party animals! I could go on for ages about how many great nights I’ve spent at Crowbar Brisbane 243, but it is what it is….. Drink a Crowbar Lager and/or a Jameson for Crowbar Brisbane!

It’s been a crazy whirlwind 8 years with Trad, Tyla, and then Matt and Helena in the last few years! Crazy nights and even crazier mornings!
Love you all. Denis

Brisbane has lost a BIG piece of its heavy musical heart this week and you only need to see the vast array of punters talking about it and sharing their own memories to see that. These really are dark and unprecedented times for our live music establishments and it’s not just up in Brisbane who are facing the strain of COVID-19. The music industry as a whole is suffering while our government throws out loose change to help, yet invests more in unnecessary spendings like military weapons for example. I try to not get too political at times, but this current state we’re in has hit home harder than expected and we all need to do our part to let those who work for us know, that it’s not acceptable and more needs to be done for the arts in Australia, which includes everything from venues, to bands, to crew and so on. So please, reach out to your local member and ask them to do more to assist with Australia’s struggling music industry before we lose more iconic places like this.

On a lighter note, I know Crowbar they said they’ try and come back bigger and better and you better believe we’ll all be lining up on that night, whenever it is, to get back in and relive the memories of one of the greatest bars to ever open in Brisbane. Until that point, go back through the WoS Archives to revisit some of the stellar gigs we were lucky enough to cover at Crowie here

So to Trad, Tyla, Matt, Denis, Helena, the bar staff and stage crew, security, the bands, merch desk heroes and to you, the punters, we wish to say a huuuuuge thanks for the memories and we hope this isn’t the end, but just a smell you later… for now.

Note: You can now purchase some Farewell Crowbar Merch to help everyone out. Get yours here!

Heartbroken Words by Browny @brownypaul

viva la crowbar


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About Paul 'Browny' Brown (3630 Articles)
Dad, Wall of Sound Boss Man/Editorial Manager, Moshpit Enthusiast & Professional Beard Grower!