This Collingwood venue has had a tumultuous time of it – a long fight against closure ended with it closing its doors in January 2010 (despite a massive community rally on Feb 23, which has become the annual Save Live Australia's Music day), only to triumphantly reopen as licensing laws in Melbourne were reviewed. It's a legendary training ground for new bands and every significant Australian band has trod its stage at one time or another.
Historically, the Tote started life as a woodyard and tobacconist, which covered for a notorious illegal betting shop owned by future millionaire John Wren (who is widely accepted to be the subject of Frank Hardy's classic crime novel, Power Without Glory).
Between sets, most people file out to the beer garden, but inside, cult films play on the TV sets, while there’s a jukebox and pool table to keep you amused post-show. It even has its own pub footy team, the Toters, playing Renegade Pub Football League matches against musos and staffers from the Old Bar, the Espy, the Commercial Hotel and others.