Format really isn’t a venue, and it certainly isn’t a bar. What it is, if anything, is a multi-purpose art space in a three-level shopfront which used to house a rather large Vinnie’s. It is run by the Format Collective, a nebulous assortment of people who have a history with zines, art and music. This collective runs an annual two-week festival – the Format Festival – and other sporadic events in all sorts of disciplines (theatre, film, street art, music, ‘Stan Can Eat 51 Eggs In Under An Hour’). Format secured its current location in early 2010 and, thanks to drink sales and crowd-sourced donations, has maintained this permanent venue ever since.
Format (the space) is open from 3pm until 6pm on weekdays as a zine shop, where you can shed a few dollars purchasing the latest in photocopied counterculture, as well as some independent music and brilliant literary journals such as The Lifted Brow. Exhibitions by some of the best and most outrageous artists from Adelaide and interstate line the walls every two weeks or so. And once or twice a month, pending availability of temporary liquor licences, Format also plays host to a wide and genuinely awesome assortment of bands from around the world, including Sun Araw, thee oh sees, BIG A little a, and many more.
All this from a completely volunteer-based operation.
Since Format specialises in a certain kind of experimental independent culture the venue is, fittingly, located underground. As a result, it can seem a little cliquey but it’s really one of the most friendly and fascinating of places. It takes only minutes to settle in and become one of the locals, greeted with $5 Cooper’s poured by cheery, unpaid bar staff, watching some of the world’s quirkiest bands, and dancing the night away to venue’s excellent resident DJs. If that doesn’t draw you in, the smell of $4 nutella-and-marshmallow toasties – produced by local food collective Toasteriffic, who break bread at nearly every Format show – will get you salivating.