Ala Champ


In Perth's Chinatown, Find The City's First Hi-Fi Record Listening Bar 

July, 2024
Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©

Found in Northbridge’s Chinatown, where the diversity of cultures is evident as you want through the laneways of the precinct, Astral Weeks is situated in a perfect location. 

Without any obvious signage, the glow of paper lanterns in the window highlights the bar is just waiting to be discovered by those curious enough to enter. Those already in the know are locals, and the creative community – from the bar staff to the customers – are all here. 

Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©

With musicians and DJs staffing the bar, Astral Weeks co-founder Sean O’Neill (along with Daniel O’Neill, Thomas Spurling and Daniel De Jong) has created a destination for anyone with a love for music and those whom most appreciate the craft of a considered hi-fi listening system.

The hand-built Line Magnetic sound system at Astral Weeks is modelled on classic hi-fi components (such as amplifiers the Altec Iconic 812 speaker system and the Western Electric 212E), whilst their record selection is the collection of all co-owners personal selections over numerous years. Here, you’ll find the best soul, jazz and everything in between. They play what they love, and discovering new music is part of the experience here.

Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©

Living in London before relocating back to Perth, it was the venues there (Brilliant Corners) and those O’Neill would visit in Japan (Lion Bar, JBS) that inspired him to create his own version for Perth. Low-key interiors let the music be the focus. Soundboards on each wall ensure the listening system can shine, and guests can have a listening experience not found elsewhere in the city.

Serving Australian or European natural or low-intervention wine, their list is worth a visit alone. Curating the best independent producers, be ready to discover the most exciting winemakers in the industry right now – by the glass, or bottle. With a few options from Europe (Marcel Joubert, Calves Bobinet, La Colombiere from France, Emilie Mutombo from Spain, Il Bruto and the Beast from Italy and the much-loved Claus Presinger from Austria), the Australian wines are not to be outdone. Jauma from McLaren Vale in South Australia is always a great choice, with a taste of newness also on offer from Chateau Acid from the Central Ranges in NSW).

Champ spoke to O’Neill about the bar’s beginnings, Perth’s creative community and his latest project, Astral Weeks Radio. Find his architecturally-inspired custom music mix for Champ in the soundbar above and interview below.

Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©

How did Astral Weeks begin, who did you found it with and why?

I had visited a bunch of listening bars in Japan and a few in the UK and was fairly confused as to why none really existed in Australia. I had so many great musical experiences in these venues that I really wanted to try and give Perth one of these spots.

AW was founded by myself, Thomas Spurling, Daniel O’Neill and Daniel De Jong. I managed to convince everyone to put a bit of money in and take a chance on something new for Perth. Sharing the financial cost meant less risk for a first-time hospitality project.

How did you find your location in Chinatown, what is it about this location that is perfect for Astral Weeks?

I was looking with Thomas Spurling for a solid 1.5-2 years. We didn’t rush the process of finding the right space and I think it definitely paid off. The spot Chinatown popped up and it was just the right fit in terms of being within close proximity to a few other like-minded venues as well as just being incredibly central.

The space is also just a great sounding room which made life a lot easier when organising all the sound aspects.

Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©

Tell us about your city Perth, and the creative community there. What is it about the city and people that you love.

Perth is home. Although it may not always feel like there’s a lot going on, It’s a beautiful city and there’s plenty of people within the creative community working on making this city a great spot for the arts.

People tend to come and go a lot though so I’m trying to make it a bit of a mission to keep artists in Perth by making it a bit more exciting to live in. I also hope AWRadio can attract some musicians and DJ’s who’ve contributed to the site to come over to Perth and perform.

What is the inspiration behind the name?

Astral Weeks is one of my favourite albums and the name just seemed like a good fit.

Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©

What is currently on rotation in the bar at AW?

Sven Wunder – Late Again

Bibi The Kid Misomi – Colours of the Rainbow

Maalem Mahmoud Gania – Colours of the Night

Javier Bergia – Eclipse

Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©
Astral Weeks | Photography courtesy Astral Weeks©

Astral Weeks 
Shop 12, 66 Roe Street 
Northbridge, Perth, Western Australia 

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Text: Monique Kawecki
Images: courtesy Astral Weeks

July, 2024