Live music, vintage porn and cheap eats: plans revealed for The Lansdowne Hotel (Sydney)

You’re going to want to be there when iconic pub and live music venue The Lansdowne makes its victorious return. There’s no question about that, especially now that the institution has been lovingly restored and reshaped by Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham, the genius minds behind award-winning pub The Unicorn and Mary’s Newtown.

It’s not only a huge rebound for Sydney’s live music scene, following a bunch of losses over the years, but a big leap forward for those who appreciate a good ol’ fashioned pub renno. While we don’t know the exact menu yet, given the brains behind it we’re expecting some great twists on classic comfort foods alongside a well-curated stock of drinks (and beer jugs).

When the AU review asked Smyth about the food, he gave the straight-forward description of “simple, fun”, before adding “we doing pan pizza, which has the wicked crunchy base, just like the old eat-in Pizza Huts…sticky chicken, hot as fuck nachos, couple of salads, throw in a steak or two and of course, we’re doing a burger, but it’s not Mary’s, it’s its own beast”.

“As we were researching and reacquainting ourselves with the old gal, the three key things that stood out were: seedy and fun late nights, cheap ass meals, and of course live music”, added Jake, speaking to the very faithful preservation of the Lansdowne long and storied history that has inspired this new iteration. “We are bringing live music back, now with its own room, we are open til 3am, and the $10 lunch is back. We think we got it in us to make the food a little more delicious than in its previous incarnation.”

The entire top floor of the Lansdowne, which was usually the scene of many cheap steaks and student hangovers, will be dedicated to live music. Jake and Kenny have worked closely with the producers of Darling Harbour’s lavish ICC to ensure that the space’s acoustics are kept to a high standard, filled with bands booked by Matt and Dan Rule – who are best known as the previous owners of The Annandale Hotel and two of the most influential bookers in Australia.

The art direction of the new Lansdowne has also taken an interesting turn thanks to visual artist Jessica Cochrane, given free reign over everything from the design of staff t-shirts and menus to the entire venue. Even the bathrooms have been given a distinctive touch-up, so substantial that they have dubbed the work “The Pisstine Chapel”.

Image: Alexander Tull.

“I wanted to take advantage of a classic space being transformed into something with a contemporary edge and make my work mimic that sentiment”, offered Cochrane. “Taking an iconic symbol of popular culture that’s been a controversial influence of feminine beauty and societal standards, and repurposing its information through artistic means is something of an overwhelming, humours [sic], creepy and impactful result”.

What she’s talking about of course is the use of vintage porn clippings in some of the spaces, bringing a little subversiveness to the Lansdowne’s overall aesthetic.

“The brief was ‘go get it’, we love the way she plays with ideas of traditional beauty and really subverts them, but in a kind and empathetic way”, said Smyth when asked about the collaboration with Cochrane. “It’s kind of like the Lansdowne – a beautiful and striking building that has been twisted and bent over time. She came in and just smashed it out of the park, creatively and practically”.

The Lansdowne’s opening weekend kicks off on this Thursday 15th June, and there are going to be plenty of big surprises for those who head along. We can’t tell you any more than that, but trust us, you’re going to want to be there.

The Lansdowne

Address: 2-6 City Road, Chippendale NSW
Opening: Thurs 15th June