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April 3, 2024

Finally, a win for live music in Adelaide

Velvet Underground is set to open this Friday beneath a newly renovated city pub.

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  • Words and pictures: Claudia Dichiera

Music has been an important part of Annie Medlen’s life, despite not playing an instrument.


Velvet Underground
107 King William Street, Adelaide 5000

Opening Friday, April 5


“I just have a passion,” Annie says. “My parents raised me on music and a lot of old-school music. My family are very passionate about that.

“It’s just constantly a part of every nice memory that we have as children and growing up.”

Through this, Annie has befriended many musos and developed a great appreciation for the live music scene in Adelaide.

“It takes me away from all of the stresses and everything that I’m doing in my life – you can sit there and really get drawn into someone’s talent, that’s, I think, why I love it,” Annie says.

“In Adelaide, the music community is so tight and lovely and amazing and that’s why we just wanted to be a part of that.”

Stage WIP


Set to open this Friday, Velvet Underground is a live music and entertainment venue by founder Annie and co-owners Darren Brown and Sam Stoios, who also co-own Icarus and King William Hotel.

Although live music will be a large aspect of Velvet Underground’s offering, which is located underneath the King William Hotel (formerly The Ambassadors), Annie says the bar will offer so much more than that and is a “passion project” of hers.

“I’ve always been really interested in owning a live music venue, but I didn’t want to stop with just live music,” Annie says.

“I wanted it to be entertainment, a space that anyone can come to that we can showcase Adelaide talent in general because there’s so much of that.

“I didn’t want to pigeonhole us to one specific genre.”

The entertainment ranges from burlesque, cabaret, DJs, rock bands, jazz shows and more as Annie says it will be “very diverse”.

“It’s quite overwhelming, but it’s exactly what I wanted,” she says.

There’s work to be done by Friday


Annie acknowledges the struggle and closures of recent live music venues, and how that has changed the industry as a whole. She says the situation is “very scary” but “Adelaide needs more”.

“Through speaking with a lot of my friends that are in bands and things like that, [they] have shared the support that they need from a live music venue or an entertainment space,” Annie says.

“We really wanted to listen to what they needed, and what they believe makes a good entertainment space – that’s what I’ve been doing in the lead-up to this.

“Because everyone that is surrounding me is so passionate about the arts, and I see how devastated the general population is about all of these places that are shutting down, so we do think it’s really important to try and keep pushing and keep that alive.”


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Aside from creating a comfortable and functioning venue, Annie says support for the live music sector can come from all aspects of Velvet Underground.

“There is actually just so many bands, and so many artists in Adelaide that just want a space where they can showcase their talents,” Annie says.

“From what we have heard, it’s hard to get into these amazing, iconic venues because they’re already so full.

“So that’s why we decided to turn this place into what it is just to give them a space – something that’s affordable for them and that we can still support.”

This is where the pool table, jukebox and dart board will be


When we visit Annie, she warns us the space is far from finished and that we will “have to really use [our] imagination” to picture what it will look like come Friday night.

Annie walks us through the large venue and explains there will be velvet-coated walls, disco balls, purple neon lights and a separate area with a pool table, jukebox and a dart board.

Pictured below is the artwork by artist Hari Hari painted across multiple walls within the venue.

Annie highlights that while the bar has a certain aesthetic, it will also be versatile in how it presents as an entertainment space.

“It’s going to be very different depending on what act we have: on Friday, we have live music, so it will be an open space so people can stand and dance and do whatever they want,” Annie says.

“Obviously if we have jazz, we’ll bring in more couches and seating – it’ll be very dependent on what we have.

“There’s so much space and there’s so much opportunity to use furniture and amazing things.”

The work of Hari Hari


After working in hospitality for many years, Annie has created strong relationships with local distillers and wine labels – particularly in her current role at Bowden Cellars and Sideways Liquor Co.

Through Velvet Underground’s alcohol offering, she wants to highlight the tight-knit community and has asked hospo veterans from Nola, Longplay Bistro, Unico Zelo and more to join in the fun by curating a tequila-heavy cocktail list.

Annie says this trait is representative of the hospitality community in Adelaide, which is unlike other states in Australia.

“I would say most people within hospitality – especially in the city – know each other and support each other,” Annie says.

“And that’s not just going to each other’s bars and being present in that way, it’s going above and beyond, lending a hand when you need it.

“Whether it’s working behind the bar, to creating cocktails, to giving support through information in terms of wine lists, or whatever. There is [an] incredible support system around Adelaide hospo and that’s why I’ve decided to manoeuvre my lists around that.

“It’s essentially just showing love to the people that have shown love to me for the last couple of years throughout my career.”

Velvet Underground is set to open this Friday at 107 King William Street, Adelaide.

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