When you run a live music-café-bar-record store, your rock ‘n roll heroes are never far away. But Pure Pop owner Dave Stevens never imagined how close they might be.
“This is going to sound like name-dropping, but it actually happened – once I walked in, and Tim Rogers (You Am I) and Dave Larkin (Dallas Crane) were talking at the bar, then inside the store Conway Savage (The Bad Seeds) was having a coffee, and Spencer P Jones (The Beasts of Bourbon) was flicking through CDs,” Dave says.
“It’s the good thing about where we are – lots of locals who support us!”
Dave first arrived in St Kilda in the 1990s, and worked at Cosmos Books and Records (now Readings). Seven years ago, he got his own record store – but it wasn’t the shop that won his heart.
“There was a backyard just sitting there, not being used – it was perfect for in-store performances!” Now the backyard’s a back bar, with live music most nights of the week.
The fast-gentrifying neighbourhood does bring issues. Noise complaints from one neighbour mean acoustic-only gigs. Expensive sound-proofing is next – and St Kilda’s rock royalty are on hand to help. Paul Kelly leads an impressive line-up playing Prince Bandroom on May 11, for a Pure Pop benefit entitled Raise the Roof.
It’s a small step in a big fight to keep St Kilda’s beloved grittiness. “So much has changed since I first got here – Acland St has changed completely. Greedy landlords kept putting up rents, and now only chain stores can afford it.”
St Kilda still holds plenty of favourite haunts, though – Dave gets his coffee from nearby Nineteen Squares (31 Blessington St) and the Pure Pop crew are known to descend on neighbouring bar Claypots (213 Barkly St) for a late night of revelry. He rates his corner of the suburb as St Kilda’s finest.
“The only problem is, now our landlords are starting to say, it’s pretty happening down there, perhaps we should put up the rent!”
Pure Pop Records, 221 Barkly St, St Kilda.