Photo by Mason Smith
After spending the past six weeks under renovation, the public and local artists alike are thrilled to be back and enjoying a variety of music in one of WA’s most influential venues – Mojo’s Bar.
Many music lovers take the nightly pilgrimage to Mojo’s on Queen Victoria Street, in the heart of North Fremantle, in search of unique and intimate musical acts.
Open every night, the venue plays host to a range of talented artists, from big names like Tame Impala and San Cisco, to up-and-coming locals at open mic nights.
After spending plenty of time and money on improving the soundproofing in the venue, the Mojo’s team hopes that the renovations will ensure artists can perform without limitations, late into the night.
In a recent statement, the Mojo’s team not only expressed their excitement to be back open, but also revealed that being shut for the last six weeks has been “emotional” and “far from easy”.
For those familiar with Mojo’s, don’t fear; the renovations haven’t changed the atmosphere or aesthetics of the venue.
With exposed brick walls, cheap décor, including a disco ball, fake plants, and murals throughout, Mojo’s is still a no-frills venue that lets the music take centre-stage.
It’s this simplicity and charm that attracts crowds of patrons each night and fosters a community atmosphere full of joy and love for music and Mojo’s itself.
While the venue has plenty of fans, not many love Mojo’s as much as WA indie rocker, Peter Bibby.
“This place has been closed for six f**king weeks, so it’s nice to finally see some people back in here,” Bibby announced before commencing his set last week.
Surrounded by a crowd of 100-or-so people either standing at the bar, sitting on the floor, or dancing near the front of the stage, Bibby, supported by Shane Corry and Racoo, performed with passion for 45 minutes to an hour each enthralling the audience.
Playing both “old and new stuff”, Bibby and his accomplice, Strawberry Peter, took the crowd on a musical journey through Australia in each song.
Bibby’s blend of indie rock, country and folk, accompanied by some beautiful – yet sometimes crass – lyrics was a perfect way to usher in the new era of Mojo’s in wonderful style.
The set wasn’t without some technical and lyrical difficulties, with instruments occasionally cutting out and Bibby forgetting some of his older lyrics from time-to-time.
But that’s the beauty of Mojo’s: it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.
At times, it’s a mess, but a beautiful mess, and that’s what keeps the crowds coming back.
I managed to get hold of Bibby and ask him a few questions about his relationship with Mojo’s and exactly what it is that makes the venue so important to WA’s music landscape.
“It means a lot to me. I love the shit out of that place.
“It’s such huge and important part of the WA music scene. They’re so supportive of up and coming acts and are always so kind to everyone who comes through the door… Unless, of course, you’re a dick,” Bibby said.
After playing at Mojo’s “hundreds of times” over the past decade, as a solo act and as a part of bands like Frozen Ocean, Bibby has grown fond of the venue and in turn, the venue is rather fond of him.
“I had a somewhat never-ending residency at Mojo’s a few years ago, every Sunday afternoon for nine months,” Bibby said.
Thanks to the relationships he has formed, and the support afforded to him when he first started out, Mojo’s became a “home away from home” for Bibby and other local artists.
“It is a great place to play music.
“I’ve had some of the best nights of my life there, both on and off the stage,” Bibby revealed.
While the venue has helped nurture some of WA’s finest musical talents, there has also been a wide variety of characters unrelated to music that help give Mojo’s its charm and cult status.
“I’ve had many a crazy night there – too many to mention. Most of them I can’t remember all that well,” Bibby said.
Bibby took the time to tell an all-too-detailed story about one former patron in particular: Brian.
This story involved a pool table, shit-talking, fisticuffs and some spiked drinks, courtesy of Brian himself.
Shane Corry even wrote a song about another former patron, who used to frequent Mojo’s and smoke cigarette butts off the floor and cause a nuisance wherever she went.
It is easy to see why Mojo’s is a hub for WA’s creatives. The craziness and unpredictability patrons encounter is fuel for stories to be shared for years to come through music.
Although it’s not always pretty, and not everything goes to plan and you sometimes encounter interesting characters, Mojo’s is a venue that stays true to itself and continues to promote local music and local artists.