Outside appearances are definitely deceiving when it comes to the YOT Club.
In the harsh light of day, the exterior walls are shabby and pinned with community notices for yoga classes, movies, markets, music lessons and other local events.
It’s a good place to go and find out what’s happening around town.
And punters looking for a Raglan nightlife scene can check out the latest live act headlining at the iconic music venue affectionally known as the Yottie.
It’s just as unassuming inside, with a bar that runs nearly the length of the building leading to a performance space/mosh pit at the Bow Street end of the venue.
A stage is crammed into one end of this space, and posters and large photos of previous gigs embellish the interior walls.
What happens after dark is where you’ll find the heart and soul of the YOT Club and that’s pretty special according to owner Andy Meek.
“It might be small but there’s a huge amount of passion that comes from the performers and the audience.”
Andy has definitely made his mark on the Raglan music scene.
It was something that previous owner Pete Coddington was eager to see happen when he handed over the keys to Andy in 2013.
“Pete wanted to take it to the next level. He wanted someone like me with the experience to take it on.”
Andy came to the YOT Club with 11 years as owner of K’Road live music mainstays Ink Bar and its sister bar Coherent under his belt.
He still operates Ink Bar, which is known in the dance scene for featuring top DJs from New Zealand and around the world. Coherent no longer exists but it was known in its day for showcasing live rock bands.
In the pint-sized YOT Club, Andy has managed to combine the two types of acts very successfully.
With a reputation for getting rowdy, rock and reggae gigs and DJs at the top of their game, the club is legendary around the world.
It features in the travellers’ guidebook the Lonely Planet and in May this year, to celebrate New Zealand Music Month, the Yottie was named in the Herald as one of New Zealand’s best live music venues to visit.
A live music fan from way back, Andy still remembers what inspired him into the business in the first place.
“Whenever I get the chance, and there are bands I can’t book here, I’m still travelling to see bands I want to see.”
As well as catering to what’s hot on the music scene, Andy tries to book his favourite bands and over the years he’s hosted Kiwi rock legends Head Like a Hole and Regurgitator, to name but a few.
“Regurgitator are my favourite band. Me and my mate toured them through New Zealand so having them play at the Yottie was something else,” he says.
One of the club’s top acts My Baby hit the stage in January 2014 and they’ve been a drawcard ever since.
The Dutch-New Zealand trio had not long released their debut album Loves Voodoo! and they’ve continued to come back every year to headline at the YOT Club.
“My Baby are superstars now. They won’t be back this summer because of Covid. But they’ll keep coming back every summer.”
Many of the band members become personal friends, with Andy offering accommodation at the family home; one of the drawcards for the performers, other than playing at the Yottie, is being able to spend some time in Raglan.
The YOT Club has also been the breeding ground of many a young local musician with local high flyer Muroki cutting his live performance teeth with his band Cloak Bay at the Yottie.
“They did their first ten gigs here,” he says.
“For sheer passion, some of Muroki’s gigs have been incredible.”
The popular Sunday Sessions which herald the beginning of summer in Raglan, often feature local DJs getting a taste for a live performance bigger than their living room.
Andy’s there for nearly every performance and he’s proud of what the YOT Club has to offer, even though some gigs barely break even and the Covid lockdowns have hit hard.
“After the first lockdown (March 2020) both my businesses bounced back but this one’s been really horrific.”
But Andy’s not been sitting idle all this time, there are funding opportunities he is looking into and now the lockdown has been lifted he’s hard at work planning and confirming the gigs for the summer.
There are already some top acts lined up for the end of the year, including top UK drum and bass duo Document One on December 27, Hamilton six-piece Knights of the Dub Table on the 28th, Dunedin five-piece Summer Thieves on the 29th and eminent nightclub DJ Greg Churchill and Waikato old-school, hip-hop DJs KRS3 on New Year’s Eve.