Beloved Fremantle venue The Aardvark to close: “The pandemic cemented the decision to end an era”

Acts like Spacey Jane, Stella Donnelly, Great Gable and Sly Withers have all played gigs there

The Aardvark – a nigh-on legendary dive bar and music venue in Fremantle, WA – will be shutting down in October, its operators announced this week.

The 200-capacity bandroom, tucked in the basement of The Norfolk Hotel, was launched in 2018. The space itself has been active for 22 years, however, initially as a jazz cellar before it was formally launched as The Norfolk Basement, and eventually rebranded as The Odd Fellow. 

“After four years of underground good times, the teams at Bespoke Touring and The Norfolk Hotel are today announcing the decision to bring The Aardvark to an end this October,” operators wrote in a statement on Wednesday (July 13), saying they’re ultimately “proud to have been part of the most recent, best and (likely) final chapter of live, original music in the iconic and heritage listed space”.

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They continued: “Since rebranding as The Aardvark in 2018, the goal of the venue was to make everyone who walked down the stairs feel like they were walking into a mate’s living room and thanks to the world class hospitality team led by the Norfolk’s Andy [and] Una, we can happily leave saying we achieved that. 

“Whether it be an international touring act, an emerging artist launching their latest release or simply a local band playing their first gig, The Aardvark provided a safe, inclusive and vibrant space for live music enthusiasts every weekend in the heart of Fremantle.”

Big news coming out of the basement this week….Looking forward to seeing y'all at the bar sometime soon in these…

Posted by The Aardvark on Tuesday, July 12, 2022

After the team wrap their current itinerary of gigs up at the end of October, the space will be renovated to accomodate an expansion of The Norfolk Hotel’s hospitality offerings. They conceded that as much comes in part due to the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s live entertainment industry, noting: “Like many live music venues, the pandemic took a toll and cemented the decision to end an era for this venue as a live music haven.”

Among the many notable acts to have performed at The Aardvark include Spacey Jane, Stella Donnelly, Great Gable, Sly Withers, Tame Impala, Pond, The Presets, John Butler, Death By Denim and Noah Dillon. There is a handful of acts still due to take to its stage in the coming weeks – Mossy, for example, will perform there on Friday August 12 (find tickets here).

As teased in their statement, The Aardvark’s team will be announcing “some special events and final gigs” to formally bid the venue adieu, with details set to arrive “over the coming weeks”. 

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