Winter McQuinn’s favourite Melbourne live music venues and why they’re so special

Winter McQuinn’s favourite Melbourne live music venues and why they’re so special

Image by Lime Eldoro

The Melbourne singer-songwriter spills the beans on why Cactus Room, Northcote Social Club and Some Velvet Morning are so special to him.

You may know Winter McQuinn as the frontman from Melbourne psychedelic pop/rock purveyors Sunfruits and as a musician in various bands including Ruby Gill, Candy, Feign Jima and more.

Winter has just released his debut solo album A Rabble of Bees via Third Eye Stimuli Records which has been described as “a showcase of free-spirited and light-footed paisley boogie reflecting on friendship and environmentalism that’s been pollinated by the lysergic tones of Syd Barrett”.

Winter is currently in the middle of touring his debut solo album with his band of Garden Gnomes. His upcoming dates include Friday May 28 in Sydney at Yulli’s Brews with Luke Spook and Saturday May 29th in Thirroul at Franks Wild Years with Noodle House.

While gigs have returned to Australia, many live music venues across the continent are still struggling to make ends meet as COVID restrictions persist. To support the haunts that house and cultivate music in its most organic form, we asked Winter of his favourite live music venues in Melbourne/Naarm and what makes them special.

Keep up to date with all the latest music interviews, news and reviews here.

Cactus Room

Situated on High St Thornbury, Cactus Room is one of my favourite venues in Melbourne. Cactus is a small, hole in the wall that opens out into a glorious, chic venue that could easily be someone’s house if they had a bar and a stage setup.

It’s a venue that you can always go to and have a great time no matter what vibe you’re looking for. It can be relaxed and chill or alive and pumping. I’ve both played and have been to a lot of special shows at Cactus over the years, so it has a special place in my heart.


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Northcote Social Club

Northcote Social Club has the best sound on stage out of any Melbourne venue. The green room is one of the best in Melbourne and the location is great. This alone sets it apart from others but it’s also just a great spot to hang out and have a beer and or a vegan gnocchi. I have a very special place in my heart for NSC growing up around the area, playing and occasionally working at the venue.

Some Velvet Morning

Some Velvet Morning is located in Clifton Hill on Queens Parade. It’s the ideal venue for folk music and the place to go if you want to really connect to an artist’s lyrics and songs in a way that you might if you were in their lounge room standing next to an upright piano.

Every show I’ve seen at Some Velvet has left me emotionally moved and the venue definitely plays a role in creating an atmosphere that allows artists and audiences to be at their most comfortable but also allows for people to be vulnerable on and off the stage.

With the return of live music and venues capacities slowly returning to their former glory, it’s so important to get out and show them your support. Venues are the community spaces, meeting places and lifeblood of our amazing music scene and should be treasured. Especially the ones on the smaller side!

Winter McQuinn’s new album, A Rabble of Bees, is out now. Give it a spin here.