The best live music venues in Melbourne
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13.06.2024

The best live music venues in Melbourne

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Words by Ben Lamb

The best live music venues in Melbourne prove that this city remains the gig capital of the world.

We’re diving into our favourite Melbourne live music venues, all of which are dedicated to putting on killer gigs and giving up-and-coming bands (not just from our own backyard, but from across the world) a stage. There are plenty to choose from, so we’ve separated them by suburb to keep things easy.

We’ve done a lot of more specific lists like these over the years: Melbourne’s most underrated gigging hotspots, Melbourne’s best music venues for a first date, a walking guide to Melbourne’s music destinations and of course, the ones we’ve loved and lost, among many, many more. But today, we’re releasing our most comprehensive list yet, of the venues you absolutely-must go to this year. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Want to know the best gigs happening in Melbourne every day of the week? Check out Melbourne’s most comprehensive gig guide here. Otherwise, keep up with the latest music news, features, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

The best live music venues in Melbourne’s CBD, Carlton and North Melbourne

Wax Music Lounge

Founded by Roseby and Tim Bartold of Melbourne’s iconic Wax Museum Records and Mark Lipshut (Spin Records), the launch of the new underground venue and bar Wax Music Lounge marks an exciting new chapter for the record store’s legacy and the wider cultural imprint of Melbourne’s city at-large.

Guided by an amber glow down a flight of stairs in a city basement, Wax Music Lounge is subterranean at heart. The red glow, the concrete walls, the scattered jazz-fi resounding from the speakers makes the room feel both familiar and foreign at once. If music piques mem- ories, Wax Music Lounge does exactly that. Remnants of wild nights and basement jazz in a Lower East Side basement; intimate conversations in a Kreuzberg speakeasy; all doused in liquor and sound.

The space boasts a generous 175 capacity, striking lighting features curated by Melbourne-based designers James Hebbs and Grace Darling, and a beverage list with a focus on natural Australian lo-fi wines, craft beers and signature cocktails by acclaimed bartender, Pita Dixon.

Cherry Bar

The Cherry Bar owners stunned many of us when they announced the opening of their new venue The Hotel Westwood where the old Reverence Hotel used to stand. Amidst that, their premier venue is still slinging live gigs, you’ve got Weened, The Poor, and Mountain Wizard Death Cult on their way to the Cherry Bar this year.

The Toff in Town

 

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If you want to catch a performer before they become the next big thing, look no further than The Toff in Town. The part cocktail bar – part live music venue has got some cool shows on the horizon, like Sydney Miller, onesevenfour, and Zheani to name a few.

Section 8

 

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Head to Section 8 and you’re likely to find a winding line out the front and a bunch of Melbourne cool kids vibing in the indoor/outdoor container bar past the gate. Free entry, mad DJs, event a hoop out front – seriously, what’s not to love?

Max Watt’s

 

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Max Watt’s loves putting on shows that can appeal to all types of people – whether you like High School Musical, Haiku Hands or the sounds of Ibiza Nightclubs, Max Watts will have a show for you.

Birds Basement

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You’d be hard pressed to find a cooler live music venue than the Bird’s Basement. It’s like a New York Jazz club that has been picked up and plonked in the middle of Melbourne. Over the years there has been a heap of great acts that have graced the Birds Basement stage. You can catch some great performers at Birds Basement over coming months, acts like Jack Jones, Renee Geyer, Thando and Ross Wilson.

The Curtin

 

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The John Curtin Hotel is still in business on the live music venue front to the glee of all Melburnians. They’ve got some amazing live shows on the horizon, including Hobsons Bay Coast guard, Mylk, Dana Mitchell Revenge Plot, and Sappho. Keep an eye on Beat for any further announcements about The Curtin.

Festival Hall

Festival Hall has hosted some truly impressive alumni over the years, showcasing Frank Sinatra, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Shirley Bassey, and Powderfinger, just to name a few. It was also where I saw my first concert in Melbourne (an all-ages Allday show – in case you were wondering).

Originally opening in 1913 as the West Melbourne Stadium, Festival Hall has a long and diverse history. Initially serving as a roller-skating rink and later transforming into a renowned boxing arena, it quickly became a beloved venue for sports and entertainment.

Despite being tragically destroyed by fire in 1955, the resilient establishment was rebuilt in time for the 1956 Olympic Games, showcasing gymnastics and wrestling. Festival Hall gained legendary status in the 1950s and 1960s as one of Australia’s most iconic music venues.

Paris Cat

 

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Iconic Melbourne jazz cauldron Paris Cat is a major player in the live music game and they’re not mucking around – featuring music from all different types of talented performers. You can catch the Rachel Ross quintet, The Cope Street Parade, and even a cool tribute show to Frank Sinatra. Check out what else is on here.

170 Russell

 

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170 Russell is one of our longest standing venues, having seen a number of great international performers grace its stage over the years. There’s some cool acts on their way in 2022, Cory Henry, Broods, and many more.

The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar

Located on Victoria Street in Melbourne’s CBD, The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar hosts up to eight live shows a week in its 100-person capacity bandroom, as well as front bar matinee shows. The bar also offers a wide range of pub fare for both meat eaters and vegans to enjoy. Find The Last Chance Rock and Roll Bar at 238 Victoria St, CBD.

Whitehart Bar

From an old carpark behind a camera shop to one of the CBD’s best open-air bars, Whitehart has come a long way since its humble beginnings seven years ago. When Stephen Johnson and Sabrina Santucci became friendly with the Michaels family (of Michaels Camera Shop) through using their carpark at the end of the CBD’s Whitehart Lane whilst the couple ran a coffee shop in the city, the carpark was nothing more than an old empty lot of land. Now – seven years later – the carpark, the city and the lives of Johnson and Santucci are all irrevocably changed and the venue is now home to residencies from some of the best DJs in Melbourne, regularly hosting overseas spots as well.

“We had often thought how amazing and hidden away the space was, right in the heart of the city,” Johnson says of the old carpark. Nestled between growing skyscrapers and the hustle and bustle of the city’s laneways, Whitehart Bar counteracts the concrete jungle of the city’s CBD with a jungle of their own making. Filled to the brim with a treasured collection of giant old Staghorns, Elkhorns and a family of other beautiful plants, the venue is like a reprieve of fresh air amongst all the chaos of the city. “We stand green and strong as the city continues to grow around us,” Johnson says.

The best live music venues in Collingwood

The Gem

With its classic Americana aesthetic, this honky-tonk Collingwood bar offers a menu of Texas-style BBQ and Southern American pub food for you to eat your heart out. You can catch a live band or DJ playing every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in The Gem’s front bar.

The Tote

 

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Melbourne rock kingdom The Tote is back up and firing in the live music venue space. This spot is dedicated to putting on some hard rocking shows featuring some of Melbourne’s coolest new acts. Groups like Fan Haus, Teenage Joans, and many more are on their way to The Tote.

The Gasometer

Located on the corner of Smith Street and Alexandra Parade in Collingwood, The Gasometer Hotel (known lovingly as The Gaso) has hosted everyone, from a diverse range of world-class acts to up-and-comers alike. From iconic names like Jet and The Saints to groundbreaking talents such as Kimbra and Marlon Williams, The Gaso’s three distinct stages have been host to a whopping variety of acts.

Segmented into three main sections, with the main bandroom separated from the front bar and pub area, this vibrant venue has carved a niche for itself as one of the city’s most exceptional spots for musical enthusiasts. Tucked behind their front bar, ascend their spiral stairwell to be greeted by a cozy yet vibrant room that has witnessed countless extraordinary gigs from up-and-coming locals. Lose yourself in the intoxicating melodies, bask in the dynamic atmosphere, and create unforgettable memories at this musical haven. Come for the booze, stay for the tunes – The Gaso is waiting to sweep you off your feet.

Lulie Tavern

Live music is almost always free at the Tav. They’re a generous bunch! It usually starts at 9pm, so grab a few brews before hitting the D-floor.

Aaaah, the good old Lulie. Combining the raucous energy of a classic pub with the modern fixings we all love, Lulie Tavern is a favourite of locals and visitors alike. If you’ve been on the hunt for an authentic Americana dive, then this will be your place. Though Lulie Tavern may only be in its early years, you wouldn’t be able to tell – it’s got that cozy, lived-in feeling, like it’s straight out of 1969. Warm and unpretentious, the space is only made better by the super friendly staff.

Sun seekers can head on up the stairs to the brand-spanking-new rooftop. We couldn’t think of a better way to end a busy week than crushing a few on the roof while the thud of rock n’ roll echoes from the bandroom below. The Lulie is known for their massive celebration of the best of Melbourne nightlife too, hosting a massive Luliepalooza each year, a one-day mini festival praising all things live music. This year, their lineup included the likes of RVG, Pist Idiots, Grace Cummings and Children Collide.

The best live music venues in Brunswick

The Brunswick Ballroom

One of the finest live music venues in Melbourne, The Brunswick Ballroom is a beautifully refurbished hall in the old Metropolis House building that now hosts some of Melbourne’s favourite live acts.

The upstairs ballroom, accessed via the dramatic staircase, features superb stained glass domes evoking the work of Australian artist Leonard French, before expanding out onto an open-air balcony that takes in the urban streetscape below and the sights of Melbourne’s skyline. It also has the Brunswick Artists’ Bar next door, which doubles as a lovely quaint cafe and bakery.

Brunswick Artists’ Bar

Live music is front and centre at the Brunswick Artists’ bar. Really, the stage is in the middle of the room. Shows are almost always free, which makes it an excellent place to catch an exciting up-and-coming act on a beer budget.

It’s a humble place. No stuffy pretentiousness; just good old fashioned fun. With live music on the stage and local art on the walls, it is a true celebration of the culture of Brunswick. Pair that with Melbourne-made beer and spirits behind the bar and you really can’t go wrong. The intimate interior and plush seating makes it an all-too-easy place to waste the hours away, plus, word on the street is on the weekends in the wee hours, the aforementioned stage makes for a pretty sweet drunken dance floor, with throwbacks and classics blasting out of the sound system. Sneak outside for a beer or a dart, and you’ll be in the prime position for people watching on the sidewalks of Brunny.

Small Time

 

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Small Time is a chameleon of the Melbourne music space wearing the different capes of a music video platform, artist development program, production space and live music venue/pizza bar. Having livestreamed shows throughout the lockdown, Small Time is back with live gigs, initially welcoming names such as Lewis Coleman, Cantrips amd AM Reruns and more since things eased. Upcoming, there’s Leslie D King, Bares, and more.

The Jazzlab

 

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The Jazzlab is quickly becoming one of the coolest venues across Melbourne’s live scene, putting on some amazing shows from virtuosic acts that live on our doorstep. Along with Bird’s Basement and Paris Cat, they’re in many ways the holy trinity of Naarm’s authentic jazz culture.

Union Hotel Brunswick

Live music every Saturday and Sunday at this old school joint, which also features on our best Brunswick pubs and bars list. The Union Hotel can be found at 109 Union St, Brunswick. It’s an awesome place, but there’s no doubt It’ll take you back to those days where you’d be a kid spending your time in the playground at a local pub. It’s got all those pub classics you know and love like steak sandwiches, chicken parmas and fish and chips.

Their extensive range of wines is pretty impeccable too, from all around Australia and beyond. Much alike all of the popular venues in Brunswick, the Union has a selection of live music on a regular basis.

Edinburgh Castle

Brunswick’s longest-standing pub and one of it’s oldest live music venues, Edi Castle boasts a mammoth beer garden, an expansive craft beer offering, a mouthwatering menu, and a never-ending supply of local live music. It’s a bloody big venue with a huge heart to match. You’ll always feel right at home here. Find Edinburgh Castle at 681 Sydney Rd, Brunswick.

The Beast

Lively, great eats and just the right amount of sleaze – The Beast is an effortless choice no matter what’s on (and there’s always something on). They’ll also be hosting their tried-and-true weekday favourites including Big Stick Energy Mondays with chargrilled skewers and beer, Trivia Tuesdays and the aforementioned wing Wednesdays.

They’ve hosted over a thousand free shows in the past decade while slinging house cocktails and indie brews alongside some of the best burgers in Melbourne. They’re a night out that spills music and revelry into Lygon Street, and your local hangover cure (spicy bloody Maria and a double Ron Swanson burger will always do the trick.) Their promise? Always free entry, always great vibes. On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s bands galore, and entry is free (that’s more money you can spend on beers).

The Post Office Hotel

 

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Sydney Road’s The Post Office Hotel is not only a stellar pub for a pint and a meal, it also doubles as a fantastic live music venue. Regularly updating their gig guide via their website, make sure you duck down to The Post Office for a gig coming up.

Penny Black

A live music venue with acts that run Thursdays through Sundays on the Penny stage. They don’t discriminate – everything from sweet, singer-songwriter strums to sharp art-punk synths can be heard reverberating out from the bandroom.

What hasn’t been said about the Penny? Built from of an old post office and under old management from 2010, the long-standing venue is an epicentre for live music, culture and good vibes in Brunswick. It’s somewhat of an adult playground (though kids are welcome too). If you’re a gig freak like us, you’ll be happy to hear that live music at the Penny Black is back with a vengeance. Running four nights a week, the shows feature some of Australia’s most exciting talent and the occasional international act as well – stuff for all of Brunswick’s quirky tastes.

Stay Gold

Fantastic Sydney Road live music venue Stay Gold is back in the swing of live music with a bunch of sweet shows coming up. Their venue celebrates the glorious punk and emo music of the early noughties with many cool music nights, while they’ve also got shows from Windwaker, Ironstone and Eye of The Enemy to name a few.

Rubix Warehouse

Situated in Brunswick, this 500sqm warehouse and live music venue hosts a whole range of events, from international touring acts to club nights and all-ages gigs. Rubix promises the best of warehouse acoustics, with an industry-leading VOID sound system that is perfect for enjoying live music at full volume. Find Rubix Warehouse at 36 Phoenix St, Brunswick.

The Retreat

 

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Connoisseurs of the best local talent, everyone from the likes of Floodlights, Bones & Jones, Porpoise Spit, Lewis Coleman and more, have stepped into their beloved live music venue.

Bergy Bandroom

Bands fill the mid-sized, 200-capacity live music venue’s bandroom niche that’s becoming increasingly important for the local performance and arts circuit. A space that’s small enough to sell out, and big enough to feel like a proper gig for local and touring bands alike.

It’s a big deal for Bergy, a famously snug little venue tucked away at the park edge of Sydney Road. Bergy made its name by being the friendly hole-in-the-wall and unpretentious local favourite. That dive-style haunt will remain, with more of a focus on cocktails and boutique drinks in the front bar, but the new space next door lets them beef up their renowned regular gig schedule. For this bandroom, they’ve gutted the old warehouse space next door and built their dream venue basically from scratch. This means audio tech industry pro and Bergy owner David ‘Frankie’ Cudmore and his team have been able to assess and curate a perfect acoustic setup. Sound-treated walls and airlock doors ensure not only an excellent audio experience in the bandroom, but that the new beer garden out back is completely insulated. 

The best live music venues in Fitzroy

Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider feels like a little piece of New York, an intimate and classy number that would be right at home in Greenwich Village. Stepping into the office though, this glitzy and glamorous affair is but a wolf-in-sheeps-clothing: a dive bar as divey as the best of them, complete with Happy Hour specials that’ll make your brain fall out of your ears. 

When you’re ready, make your way down its vibrant halls into the bandroom, adorned with a disco ball and cushy leather booths straight out of the 70s. 

Labour in Vain

Located in a building over 150 years old, this Brunswick Street pub and live music venue is a remnant of old Fitzroy. Its laidback and simple atmosphere allows punters to just kick back and relax while the rest of the world rushes by. The venue features regular live music, mostly bluesy rock and Americana, and also has a rooftop deck. Find Labour in Vain at 197a Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Tramway Hotel

As homey and welcoming as they come, Tramway Hotel is a sweet little gig spot that will make you feel like you’re at your own private concert. With a crowd-pleasing burger menu, a choice selection of craft brews and an aesthetic that’s vaguely reminiscent of rustic country shack (and we mean that as a compliment), this Fitzroy North haunt is a bloody beauty. Find Tramway Hotel at 165 Rae St, Fitzroy North.

Bar Open

 

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Bar Open is a Fitzroy legend, a mainstay of Melbourne’s live music scene for 24 years that supports a huge array of genres. With art and mural splashed walls and a general decor and clientele that screams ‘You’re in Fitzroy, welcome home’, it’s no wonder that Bar Open is one of those venues that people associate with unique Melbourne culture. It has a delightful beer garden, a cozy fireplace, an upper level and an improv night, but you really need to head here to experience the dazzling array of live music for yourself.

The treasured venue hosts bands six nights per-week over two stages, and is widely renowned for everything from weekly experimental/improvised gigs (the home of Make It Up Club) to jazz/groove-based genres as well as heavier guitar-based rock (doom, punk, grindcore).

The Old Bar

 

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If you’re after music, music and more music, The Old Bar is the spot for you. There’s 7 days a week of live music, and covers a number of different genres, like blues, rock, and Indie. If you want to get your bearings of the venue before you head there, you can play this cool little minigame on their website that gives you a tour of the grounds.

Nighthawks

Nighthawks is the kind of place where you feel comfortable to drop in by yourself and sink a pint while you read or sit back and take it all in. Upstairs, you’re likely to find a gig featuring back-to-back stellar local acts while downstairs, you can soak up whatever the DJ is spinning. Either way, the tunes are always sublime.

The Workers Club

 

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Fitzroy live music haunt The Workers Club are well and truly back to doing what they do best, putting on gigs, gigs, and more gigs, and the tickets are selling like hot cakes. Now that restrictions have eased, you can catch some full capacity shows with Supercab, Proposal, Semantics, and many more that you can check out here.

Rooks Return

Live music is a common occurrence at Rooks Return. On Wednesdays it’s jazz, on Thursdays it’s honky tonk and there are DJs all weekend long for those looking to sneak in a little boogie.

Rooks Return is a pub that feels utterly Fitzroy. Bringing together the rustic northside charm with a cocktail menu that seriously delivers, it’s the kind of easygoing place you could rock up to on a big night out with friends, spend a lowkey afternoon playing chess or board games, or bring your parents when they come to town.

The welcoming energy mixes nicely with the intimacy of the space. When it’s especially busy, you’ll be dodging and weaving through the crowd and you’re likely to brush up against someone interesting. They also do an excellent job of curating the vibe, so if you’re trying to get away from the riff raff (AKA bachelor parties, pub crawls and the like) you’ll most likely be safe here.

Laundry Bar

Laundry Bar has been one of Melbourne’s undisputed homes of rap and hip hop now for many years. Located on Johnston Street in the heart of Fitzroy, the line outside gets long, but it’s worth the wait to join the party inside. Over two levels, the bartenders sling your favourite poison, while the resident DJs drop the freshest rap and hip hop out. Treat the crew to a VIP booth if you’d prefer a private area and bottle service, or head straight to the dance floor.

The Night Cat

 

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The Night Cat give a different vibe to the music-watching experience, the venue featuring a stage that has a 360” view. Now as restrictions have eased even further, the venue has a number of live gigs on the way, featuring everyone from The Beths to Sycco.

The best live music venues in Thornbury

Thornbury Local

Live music for free on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights as part of their beloved free gig series – full of some of Melbourne’s best up-and-coming acts. They’re known for their live music series, where they invite local acts to play on their stage in a series of free gigs that take place every week on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Cactus Room

Live music is brash, loud and unforgiving at Cactus Room – most of the time. The space is known as a DIY punk mecca. There’s a good chance you’ll be dodging flying elbows and other debris in the pit. Look alive.

Maybe it’s a bit out of the way unless you’re a Thornbury local, but it’s well worth the journey. If you dig live music, cold beer, art and general good times, you’ll definitely want to save this spot to your Google Maps. Scratch that music-making itch any day of the week by bringing your bandmates down to one of their three rehearsal rooms. Offering drum kit rentals and one of the most reasonable rates in town, it’s an easy choice.

If you’re good enough, you might even score a chance to drop an EP through the venue’s own up-and-coming record label, Cactus Records. Plus, you can always grab a drink from their fully-stocked bar and catch a gig when you’re done practising.

The Thornbury Theatre

 

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The Thornbury Theatre are a relatively to the live music world and have already had a handful of awesome gigs that have found a bunch of new fans. They are usually used as a function space for lavish weddings and big parties. There’s some great shows coming to the Thornbury in the next few months, this includes Babe Rainbow, Karma County and Casey Donovan.

Cafe Gummo

An array of sounds and artists have graced Gummo’s sticky floors. Rock ‘n’ roll, reggae, metal, balkan brass, hip hop, rembetika… just to name a few. Cafe Gummo also features karaoke and recently a ‘lip sync to death’ competition.

Let’s be clear, things can get wild at Cafe Gummo. Like, directed-by-Harmony-Korine wild. They love a good party – drag nights, comedy nights and punk shows are all common occurrences. The events are often raising money for a good cause, so you can give yourself a little pat on the back for your drinking efforts. Snoop around the dingy yet electric rooms. Lick your greasy fingers. Huddle by the bar, chat to the lovely staff and watch whatever act is on. With a courtyard and a few seats out front, too, Cafe Gummo is the perfect sleazy n’ easy spot. It’s right out front of the 86 tram on High St, so you’ve got no excuse not to visit the self-proclaimed  “Filthy princess of Thornbury’”.

Shotkickers

A bustling live music bar located right in the heart of Thornbury, Shotkickers know how to serve up a good time. A favourite of locals, Shotkickers has its grip on the diverse and incredible music scene of our city, serving up incredible acts on their stage every night of the week.

Live music goes down seven nights a week at Shotkickers, as it’s run and led by local musicians. With the venue designed around hosting a great sounding gig, it’s a muso’s dream to play on their stage. “It’s a venue built by musicians, for musicians,“ says owner Christopher Windley. “The bar was welded by a muso. The stage was built by musos. The roof got painted by musos. Everyone is so excited to bring something fresh to the scene.”

The Croxton

From local indie favourites to international rock legends, The Croxton has the whole family covered. There’s even an indoor playground for the kids while you thrash your head about in The Croxton’s iconic bandroom. Melbourne’s vibrant music scene has earned it the well-deserved reputation as Australia’s live music capital thanks to venues like The Croxton, reminding us Melburnians of why we choose to live in such a bustling environment of legendary music performances.f you’re heading to Thornbury, you’re probably heading to The Croxton.

Thornbury definitely lives and breathes music. With Northcote housing some of the biggest music venues in Melbourne right next door, it’s certainly a hot spot for locals, but its iconography can always be traced back to the early days of The Croxton.

The best live music venues in Preston

The Merri Bar

Although the Merri Bar has only been around for two years, the Preston live music venue has already won over the hearts of many, local and beyond. Offering punters chilled-out live music on Saturdays and Sundays and a carefully curated selection of drinks all week long, it’s the perfect northside gathering point for a casual catch-up.

And the roster of talent coming through the bar should not be overlooked either. Recently, Merri Bar has stepped up their game, booking acoustic acts from across the country. The intimate room is great for catching artists up close and personal.

Ragtime Tavern

Ragtime Tavern is sure to make you feel as though you’ve stepped into an old western. With a bar literally built around a baby grand piano, Ragtime Tavern champions pianists and acoustic acts, with live piano performances from Wednesday to Saturday each week. Find Ragtime Tavern at 206 Tyler St, Preston.

The best live music venues in Northcote

High Note

With two distinct adjoining spaces placed on either side of the iconic Northcote Theatre, High Note is a brand new live music venue and community space in the heart of Northcote. Hosting workshops, art exhibitions and live music, it ultimately creates a uniquely multifaceted experience.

This commitment to variety also extends to their drinks menu. Ensuring there’s something available for every taste, it features plenty of classics but also a pretty sizable array of locally sourced Australian beers and wines. High Note radiates this self-affirmed but not standoffish sense of coolness, coming across as the place to be for people who are in the know (which would be you now that you’re reading this, how lucky). The best part of this though, is it doesn’t tread into being a wanky, exclusive cool-kids-only club. It’s an inclusive venue full of lovely staff and patrons alike.

Merri Creek Tavern

Live music is what this cosy local hangout thrives on. Serving as a hub for Melbourne’s burgeoning music scene, its intimate setting is the ideal spot to gather with friends and experience performances from new and established local, touring and international artists.

In this unique establishment, vinyl records are the soundtrack to the cosy bar area, while the back room comes alive with the sounds of live bands. With an impressive selection of beers on offer, you’ll be spoiled for choice as you take in the welcoming atmosphere and friendly vibes. If you’re feeling peckish, you can easily order in from the many nearby eateries which range from Sri Lankan, Indian, Italian, Thai, Japanese and good old-fashioned fish’n’chips.

Wesley Anne

 

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The iconic Wesley Anne is not only a revered abode for a tasty meal, they’ve got live music too and they’ve well and truly fired up the amps as we embark on 2022. Wurli, Paige Black and Ade Ishs are some of the names you will have caught over the last few years, while the likes of Rayhab, Alex Taylor and Rosario De Marco are to come.

Open Studio

 

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Northcote’s Open Studio is full of live music as it brings some of Melbourne’s brightest music talents to its space. There’s more where that came from with heaps of gigs booked over the coming months, so check out this wonderfully intimate and rather bohemian live music venue.

Northcote Social Club

 

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There’s no question that when you think of Melbourne live music venues, the Northcote Social Club is one of the first that pops into mind. It’s a chilled, laid back space that garners a chill crowd who are there just for the music.

Northcote Theatre

When it was announced that the Northcote Theatre was being transformed into a 1,500-person live music venue, replete with a cocktail bar, rooftop bar, Italian style trattoria and boutique wine bar, Northcote collectively – and this is the technical term – went apeshit. Northcote may live and breathe live music, but with the Croxton Bandroom, Thornbury Theatre, Northcote Social Club, and a plethora of smaller venues like Bar 303 already on High Street, it was always going to take something pretty special to break through.

Luckily, there’s a lot more to Northcote Theatre than just good looks. There’s oodles of space, and the mezzanine, bar access and viewing angles are all exceptional.

Bar 303

Live music at 303 is constantly varied. With an eclectic mix of performances spanning all imaginable genres – and some unimaginable ones – you’ll be treated to a vastly different band each time you go. Open until 3 am, even on weeknights, 303 is a bastion of livelihood in the wee hours of the morning, inviting you to dance the night away while the rest of High Street sleeps. Or just chill out and read a book at 2am, if that’s your thing.

With a consistently interesting and eclectic mix of performances – their booked acts ranging from blues and jazz to rock – there’s something for everyone at Bar 303. Each time you go you’ll be treated to a vastly different band. Every Thursday night, Bar 303 puts on the iconic Hammond Sessions by Hawker Heights, where the trio bring out the Hammond organ and tear through steamy blues, soulful R&B and vintage jazz for a sophisticated, world class act.

The best live music venues in Melbourne’s west

Kindred Bandroom

Live music is only one part of the puzzle that makes up Kindred. The bandroom is a place for experimentation. Unrestricted by genre, the stage welcomes all types, and visitors are always in for a pleasant surprise. Artsy types in the west gather at Kindred as if it were the only watering hole in a vast desert (not that Yarraville is any kind of desert – there’s a surprising amount of cool stuff out that way). Listed by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten workspaces in the world in 2016, the artist-owned business gives people a space to come together, create and learn.

It’s the ultimate place to soak up the creative spirit. On any given day, they host African drumming tutorials, glee club, acting classes, and filmmaking workshops. There are also soundproofed rehearsal rooms for bands that are frequented by local legends including Sampha The Great, REMI, Didirri and The Casanovas, as well as a sweet little bar and cafe area for drink and snacks.

Misfits Bar

Live music is a priority for one of Melbourne’s youngest venues. Music Director Jerry Poon labels sound as “a major factor” in shaping the future of the venue, positioning Misfits as a hub for live music for years to come. Heck, their opening night featured DJ heavyweights like Dijok and Palazzo, need we say more?

Seemingly the next big step in Footscray’s transformation into a one-stop shop for all things nightlife, Misfits delivers on Melbourne’s insatiable need for more local venues. Misfits is the brainchild of the Avengers of Melbourne’s entertainment industry: Jacob Bell, Amber Hahipene and Jerry Poon.

If you don’t know them, you almost certainly know their contributions (including Ferdyduke, Section 8, Whitehart and The Operatives). Their experience and knowledge of the industry provide incredible events, amazing lineups and great drinks every Thursday to Sunday after 5pm.

The Substation

Situated in Melbourne’s inner west in Newport, The Substation is hard to miss – an enormous brick building with long arched windows right next to the train station. The decor inside reflects a neoclassical refurbished industrial look.

The main space, fitting up to 500 guests, features exposed brick walls, timber floors and large red curtains, perfectly complementing the venue’s urban, artistic and laid back personality.  The space is also available for hire, whether for weddings, performances, or other events. If you find yourself hungry after indulging in the art, head to the cafe downstairs.

The Substation is open from 12-6pm, Wednesdays through Saturdays. For those seeking art and performances that prompt questioning, admiration and ultimate entertainment, The Substation is the ideal choice.

The Clocktower

The Clocktower Centre has been a jewel of Essendon for as long as anyone alive today can remember, and remains one of the area’s stand out live music venues. Despite all that’s changed over the past nearly a century and a half, the Clocktower has remained, providing the community with a much-needed public space for celebration and gathering. It began as a mechanic’s institute in the 1880s following the gold rush of the 1850s. Also, for those who are wondering, the clock was actually only installed in the 1930s. The tower has been providing Essendon residents with the time ever since.

In more recent years, the building received a $5 million makeover, transforming it into a modern arts and culture hotspot. It now features a 500-capacity theatre space equipped with a stunning 1898 Bechstein grand piano, a 300-seat function room and creative spaces including a writing room and a podcast studio.

The best live music venues in St Kilda and Prahran

Memo Music Hall

 

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Not even COVID could stop St Kilda’s beloved Memo Music Hall. The venue kept up appearances by throwing livestreamed gigs week after week. But now that things are back, you can catch some killer shows with their super bill of shows across the coming months. Expect to see everyone including greats The Chantoozies, Henry Wagons, Vanessa Amarossi, and many more.

Prince Bandroom

What was once a humble St Kilda pub has grown into a sprawling complex. These days the Prince of Wales encompasses a band room, a downstairs lounge and the old public bar. While two of those spaces have been renovated and dragged into the 21st century, they still retain their old world charm.

The Vineyard

One of the most happening venues right in the heart of St Kilda, for over two decades, The Vineyard has been a cornerstone of community engagement and cultural enrichment in the vibrant neighbourhood. At the time of writing, their live music program is epitomised by Live Fridays, through which the venue aims to further solidify its commitment to supporting the local arts scene.

By offering a platform for emerging musicians to perform in front of a supportive audience, The Vineyard hopes to foster a sense of camaraderie and creativity within the St Kilda community, showcasing the diverse musical landscape of St Kilda, from rock and indie to garage, hip hop, and electronic music.

Hotel Esplanade

 

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It’s the venue that’s the epitome of Melbourne. Across from the beach, a great menu, tasty drinks, what else can you ask for? – Music. The Espy has heaps of it, with Death By Denim, and Mako Road being some of many groups on their way to The Espy stage.

The Dogs Bar

Live music Monday-Sunday, no frills, unless they are closed for a week. The Dogs Bar offers a diverse range of musical options for eager attendees. From regular vinyl nights, open mic nights and the carefully and eccentrically curated Alejandro’s Playhouse, The Dogs Bar has everything else that remains resonant in between. They’ll fill up your cup with signature cocktails and bar eats too. 54 Acland St, St Kilda

Palais Theatre

 

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It’s been around for many years, had a few facelifts, but we all still love the Palais. There’s no limit to what kind of shows they can put on, having seen acts from Eves Karydas to Brian Wilson to comedian/musician Reggie Watts grace the stage in the past. There’s too many cool events coming up to list here, check out their gig guide here.

George Lane

Situated on the ground floor of the heritage-listed George Hotel, George Lane has confirmed its place in the musical history of St Kilda. The venue now acts as a stage for musicians of all shapes, sizes and sounds from Thursday through to Sunday. Supplemented by their ‘music food’ menu, the establishment also has you covered for drinks. 1 George Lane, St Kilda.

Revolver Bandroom

The venue is proud to wear a lot of hats, with a 24-hour nightclub, bandroom, Thai restaurant and arts space falling under the Revolver Upstairs umbrella. From its prominent poster wall showcasing monthly artist works to the quarterly artworks adorning its Seasons Of Change events and smokers paradise, Revs has hosted plenty of variety within those storied walls.

Of course, the iconic 320-capacity bandroom can’t be overlooked either, welcoming acts onto the renowned caged stage. Alongside an appearance from local hip-hop icons POSSESHOT, high-profile events like secret shows from hardcore outfits Alpha Wolf and Extortion (presented by Brick and Mortar) have also sold out, proving Revolver Upstairs isn’t just a place for electronic music.

Chapel Off Chapel

Audiences love Chapel Off Chapel for many reasons – friendly staff, a fully licensed bar, foyer and courtyard, and the excitement of getting up close and personal with the arts. These all combine to keep locals and visitors alike returning again and again. This highly respected and renowned venue just off Chapel Street in Prahran is a veritable institution for the arts in Melbourne.

Housed in a former church, it presents a well-rounded programme of cabaret, theatre, comedy, dance and visual art. The venue has hosted artists such as Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Tripod, and musicals including The Colour Purple, Rent and Blood Brothers. Chapel Sessions, the venue’s signature live music series, launched in January 2016 with intimate performances featuring members of some of the country’s biggest bands from the last 25 years.

The best live music venues in Port Melbourne

The Timber Yard

If you’re after major events in Port Melbourne, you can’t go past The Timber Yard. Turning a mammoth 6,000 square-metre industrial complex into a cultural labyrinth of indoor and outdoor venue spaces for hire, The Timber Yard is most popular for its regular raves and music festivals hosted by seasoned promoters like Novel, featuring massive international DJs. The likes of Jamie Jones and Four Tet have turned its 1,500-capacity warehouse space into a heaving, breathing music venue that’s like few others across the city. 351 Plummer St.

Port Melbourne Industrial Centre for the Arts (PICA)

Similar to the way The Timber Yard has been repurposed as a stunning live music, festival and events space, so has this impressive industrial centre become a thundering venue for the world’s best bands, DJs and producers. The list of acts and festivals that have been at PICA in its relatively short history range from major rock bands like Smashing Pumpkins to beloved hip hop festivals like Homegrown, all the way to rave-culture staples like Boiler Room. 1 Woolboard Rd.

The best live music venues in Richmond and Melbourne’s east

The Corner Hotel

 

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You can’t have a list of live music venues without mentioning The Corner. We’ve all been stuck behind the iconic pole, and enjoyed some great music from bands local and international. The venue always pulls some of the best acts to grace Melbourne stages, national and international.

Arcobar

If you’re looking for live music venues with stellar outdoor seating, Arcobar’s got you covered. The Heatherton watering hole is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, and hosts live music performances every weekend, including free live music every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Find Arcobar at 8 Arco Ln, Heatherton.

Sooki Lounge

 

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If you live up in the hills and are envious of all the gigs at inner-city venues, Sooki Lounge solves all your problems, putting on some awesome gigs just down the road. They feature a great mix of genres, from talented performers like Bonnie Anderson and Russell Morris to indie rockers like British India and The Delta Riggs.

The Round

Last October, when The Round officially threw open its doors, it became clear it didn’t come to play. Run by the Whitehorse City Council, the $78 million investment features a 600-capacity proscenium theatre as its main live music venue, a second, more intimate theatre and multiple versatile rehearsal spaces slash community function rooms. It was designed to give artsy types in Nunawading and the surrounding suburbs a place to soak in a diverse range of offerings. With free parking, a beautiful bar and accessible prices, you really can’t go wrong.

Ballets, operas, plays, live music – you name it, it’s happening at The Round. It even hosts children’s shows, which makes it the perfect option for school holidays or a rainy Sunday arvo. From drag provocateurs to calisthenics competitions, the programmers have been running wild (in the best way). They’re not afraid to push boundaries and deliver experimental works and emerging talent alongside tried-and-true hits.

The Leadbeater Hotel

 

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Richmond’s live music venue The Leadbeater Hotel only opened late 2019 but they’re certainly put their best foot forward during these tough times and put on a bunch of great gigs.

Odeon Richmond

A new live music venue has landed on Swan Street in Richmond. Odeon Richmond offers Melbourne’s vibrant arts community a new hub to showcase why live music is incomparable to anything else.

Odeon Richmond is a shining beam of hope within the local scene that has seen many small music venues throughout Melbourne have to say goodbye to live music enthusiasts and their loyal punters alike. Masterminds behind the music venue, Eleni Tzaros and Bruce Butler know what they are doing with a combined six decades of experience in the music industry. The conception of the venue was born during their overseas travels last year when they made a trip to the Odeon of Odeons in Athens, Greece.

Read more about the history of live music in Melbourne here.