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For the past two years, good news about Canberra’s music scene has been thin on the ground.
But that’s all about to change with the announcement that live music behemoth Transit Bar will reopen next week with a new venue, a new menu and a month’s worth of live and local gigs.
It’s a fresh start for this iconic venue and for live music in Canberra—but its fresh location may come as a surprise to Canberrans. That’s because Transit has taken over the former home of Civic’s Hogsbreath Café in the basement of Bailey’s Arcade—a stone’s throw from their original location on Akuna Street.
The new location sees Transit stretch its wings, taking advantage of the existing kitchen infrastructure to offer an extensive food menu. A nine-metre bar alongside the live performance space has been created from Hogsbreath’s hardwood fit-out—material that’s also been recycled into tables and benches to ensure a thoughtful and sustainable build.
Happily, Transit’s cosy, subterranean feel will be replicated thanks to the basement location and while Venue Manager Kierain Bunton explains that you “can’t recreate something exactly”, there are plenty of nods to Transit’s loud and colourful history such as framed posters from the venue’s early years and space for its iconic pool tables.
“The room where Transit Bar was took 20 years to get like that—you’ve got to earn the grime and grunginess,” says Kierain. “There’s blood, sweat and tears in those floors and you can’t fake that.”
“Put it this way—Transit used to be an adolescent teenager and now he’s got a full-time job and has grown up a bit. We want to recreate some of the vibes but also keep in mind that this isn’t the same venue.”
Those vibes will likely come courtesy of the already-packed lineup of gigs—the first of which will kick off Transit’s maiden night of service on Wednesday 12 January with local bands Slow Dial, The Narcissists and Box Dye sharing the stage from 8 pm. In fact, the entire month of January has been programmed with local acts only, something Kierain and his team are proud of.
Ticket holders will be able to sidle up to the bar and browse a menu of craft beers—another throwback to Transit’s history—or a batch brewed cocktail. Espresso martini or Margherita on tap, anyone?
“We’ve tried to align with breweries that have similar values to us,” explains Kierain. “Places like Capital Brewing Co, BentSpoke, Moon Dog and Young Henry’s.”
One of the biggest changes, however, will be the food on offer, with a comprehensive menu of “yummy, moreish food” perfect for eating while watching a gig or a game of pool. Conceived by Chef Tom Luxton (formerly of The One street food van in Acton), the menu features burgers, tacos, cauliflower nuggets, chicken fried steak and more.
All exciting prospects for foodies and new venue junkies alike—but everyone knows the real winner is Canberra’s music scene. Finally, some good news.
What: Transit Bar
When: Reopens Wednesday 12 January
Where: Lower ground floor, Bailey’s Arcade, 143 London Circuit, Civic
Photography: Harry Chalker. Images supplied.