Live music has been unplugged in Sydney for a while, at least in the pub scene. If you want to see unsigned bands rather than splash out for bigger touring acts, the number of venues has been decreasing year after year. The Annandale is always on the verge of closing, the Hopetoun never opened shop again after closing in 2009, and even though enormo-pubs are getting hipster makeovers, live acts aren't getting a look in; rather, tapas and bloody Mexican food.
FBI Social in Kings Cross bucked the trend, or else there's pop-up gigs in various warehouses around the place. Newtown, possibly the suburb in Sydney most populated by band members, has hardly any live venues (and if you don't like jazz or burlesque, the Vanguard doesn't rock out much). The Sando closed and was replaced by the Newtown Social Club, which promises an upstairs live music venue. Beating it by a few months is the rejigged Bank Hotel, which changed management last year and has gradually reinvented itself, firstly with a new kitchen in the beer garden.
The Bank (it's lost the 'hotel' in its name) has reopened the upstairs room as a live venue with bar snacks and a slightly FBi Social vibe for the Inner West. The stage is tiny, cramped in by a long bar and vintage seats. The room still keeps the access to the spacious outdoor veranda for smokers and lovers of fairy lights, which are in abundance.
The Bank is one of the few places where you can drink to 4am if you are so inclined, but also get a pizza until 2am. The kitchen upstairs offers a small selection of snacks, the best of which is BBQ duck sausage rolls ($12), which are possibly the best rolls this side of Bourke Street Bakery, and king crab finger sandwiches ($15), which have a solid horseradish kick.
It's sad to say that Sydney needs more venues like this, such is the shortage of places to see bands just starting out. It's great that Newtown now has another.