Saying Melbourne has a decent live music scene is like saying AC/DC was successful: it's the understatement of the decade and almost sacrilegious. Even so, the cultural foundation of Australia's hipster capital is live music.
Innumerable Melbourne pubs, clubs, bars, and stadiums have provided entertainment for punters for decades. The city's thriving music scene not only draws in internationally renowned performers, but also helps develop up-and-coming local musicians into stars.
No matter your taste in music, you'll find something here to enjoy. Melbourne has a concert for everyone, whether they like jazz in a back alley, headbanging in a pub basement, raving in a warehouse party, or jumping around with ten thousand other people. The time has come for all concertgoers, fans of live music, and party animals to assemble. Here are some of Man of Many's favourite places to hear live music in Melbourne.
FAQs Live Music Venues In Melbourne
The sole focus of The Old Bar in Fitzroy, north of the Melbourne city centre, is live music, and this small venue – with low-lighting, exposed brickwork, vintage furniture, pinball machines and tattered band posters – has bands on seven nights a week.
The Forum. CBD. One of Melbourne’s most iconic live music venues, The Forum is a live music venue, cinema and theatre venue in the heart of the CBD, bang on Flinders Street. The Forum has become a timeless venue, establishing itself as an epicentre for incredible talent – both local and International.
Melbourne prides itself on being the live music capital of Australia, and I think we give it a decent nudge. Melbourne’s got a wide range of genres and vibes to cater for every music lover and to make catching a gig even easier, we’ve wrapped up the best live music venues in Melbourne for you.
Live Music Venues In Melbourne
Live music can seem like a rare commodity in the Melbourne music scene at times. Once a month, another beloved watering hole falls victim to noise complaints from newcomers or property developers. The fact that our scene is thriving despite these obstacles is remarkable. There are plenty of places to hear excellent live music on any given night of the week. These venues cater to music fans of all stripes, from acoustic folk to indie rock to death metal.
The Corner Hotel is a mainstay of live music in Melbourne, with a large rooftop beer garden, multiple stages, and a prestigious list of past performers. Throughout their decades-long existence, they have played host to legendary international and local musicians and hosted numerous musical milestones. An example of this is the urban legend that in 2001, during a soundcheck at the Cornerback, the White Stripes played the first notes of the now-iconic opening riff to Seven Nation Army.
What could be more fitting for a rock and roll crowd than a concert hall situated on AC/DC Lane? There are plenty of reasons why Cherry Bar deserves its reputation as "the best rock'n'roll bar in the world": it has bands every night of the week, stays open late, and is located in a dark, dingy basement. Mini music festivals are held right in the heart of Melbourne at events like Cherryfest and Cherry Rock.
The Gasometer Hotel
The Gasometer Hotel, located in the somewhat undiscovered but never boring neighbourhood of Collingwood, has undergone a makeover in recent years. It's become popular as a place to watch live music, host parties, and eat reasonably well. The main draw of "The Gaso" is the retractable roof, which allows patrons to dance beneath the stars and a massive disco ball. It's not uncommon for this venue to host a wide variety of musical genres, from rock concerts to electronica-infused day parties.
The building that now houses Colour, a 24-hour nightclub, was a church in 1835 and has a storied history as the site of infamous S&M hotspot Hellfire in the '90s and the brief-lived Yours & Mine. Colour, opened by the Lounge's former booker, his DJ partner, and the club's former owner, features a Funktion-One sound system and an orange band room upstairs, expanding the club's musical offerings beyond the genre of dance music.
On weekdays (beginning at 5 p.m.), Colour is a bar and bandroom; on weekends, it becomes a nightclub. The nightclub is open all night and can hold up to 300 people (except from 7 am to 10 am on Sunday).
Northcote Social Club
The Northcote Social Club has been the nerve centre of Melbourne's alternative music community since it opened in 2004. Although the stage isn't as large as those at competing venues, the venue's intimate setting makes for a more enjoyable concert-going experience. There is live music here nearly every night of the week, including a free show featuring three bands every Monday.
Howler is an industrial-style converted Brunswick warehouse divided into an open-air front bar (with bike racks on the wall), a covered bar in the centre with a ping pong table and booths and a back-room performance space that hosts an eclectic lineup of Australian hip-hop, indie rock and open-mic nights. The bar fridge is packed full of local craft beers, so ask the friendly bartender to suggest.
Howler appeared more or less overnight from the skeleton of a derelict shed along the train line in Brunswick. It was the beginning of what has become a new wave of venues for Brunswick, Howler being one of the area’s best.
The band room is out back, so first, you walk through the outdoor/indoor room (one of the unique bar settings you will ever encounter) and the main bar area where a live DJ will likely provide tunes. Attracting both local and international acts, Howler is well worth checking out.
Brunswick Street lacks music venues, but the Evelyn certainly stands out. It regularly boasts residencies that showcase supreme local talent, gigs, and $10.00 jugs on Tuesdays. The Evelyn Hotel genre hops, never getting too caught up in any particular style, but rather focusing on gigs that captivate the audience. In addition to the spacious band room, there is also a rooftop.
The Corner is one of Melbourne's most celebrated live music venues. Its rowdy, 800-person bedroom has hosted some of the world’s biggest music stars, The White Stripes, Crowded House and Queens of the Stone Age. The pub has been a live music venue since the 1940s, and current owners (who are also involved in the Northcote Social Club) have been at the helm since 1995.
There’s a small late-night menu of burgers and snacks to keep you jumping during gigs. Come earlier, and the offering is more extensive, from classic parmas and steaks to larger shared dishes such as smoked pork hock and 12-hour beef short rib. A greenery-filled rooftop is a fabulous place for an afternoon drink, so long as you’re not too picky about beer. Carlton Draught, Melbourne Bitter, Fat Yak and Mountain Goat Steam Ale are the main pours, alongside wines and elemental spirits.
The Corner Hotel is a true institution of the Melbourne music scene. It has a pretty spectacular beer garden available for functions or simply frolicking. In the band room, your ears are always left ringing, and it’s everything you could hope for. Throughout the Corner’s history, its hallowed stage has hosted an array of local up-and-comers, as well as early 2000s pop magicians Morcheeba and The Dandy Warhols.
The Old Bar
The sole focus of The Old Bar in Fitzroy, north of the Melbourne city centre, is live music, and this small venue – with low-lighting, exposed brickwork, vintage furniture, pinball machines and tattered band posters – has bands on seven nights a week. The owners are a trio of musicians and music lovers who pride themselves on highlighting Melbourne’s thriving live music scene. You might see punk, indie or funk bands, many of them just starting, so squeeze in and join the fun.
Section 8, located in the heart of Melbourne's central business district, is a bar housed in a shipping container with seating fashioned from wooden pallets. Block parties and Dancehall dance battles with live DJs have both taken place in Section 8 in the past. The music is diverse and constantly updated. If you're looking for a place to hang out in the afternoon, look no further than Section 8; the tunes are perfect for any occasion.
Since the 1980s, The Tote has been the premier punk, metal, psychedelic, and rock'n'roll venue in Melbourne. Australian rock royalty like Jet, Silverchair, and the Hoodoo Gurus are among the many impressive acts on the bill.
AND they continue to host some of the city's finest concerts, featuring both established and emerging rock acts. So come on down and take a look around to get a feel for Melbourne's home of rock; the evidence is on the walls, the carpet, and the stage.
The Tote, located in the Melbourne neighbourhood of Collingwood, has been a staple of the city's live music scene since the 1980s, earning it the nickname "the home of rock." However, changes in licencing laws in 2010 led to its closure. A city-wide uprising followed, with a rally attended by 10,000 people or more eventually leading to the venue's reopening. It was clear from the campaign to save the Tote that live music in Melbourne is highly valued.
Northcote Social Club
Almost exactly in the middle of High Street is where you'll find the Northcote Social Club. Since it is co-owned by the same people as Richmond's Corner Hotel, you can expect a similar emphasis on live performances.
Smaller than the Corner's, the band room is ideal for more subdued performances. There won't be as many people or giant pillars to obstruct your view, but the music is just as good.
Renovating the historic Commercial Hotel in 2004 gave birth to the NSC. Within a short amount of time, it had become an institution of the Melbourne alternative music scene. In 2015, Breathe Architecture undertook a second renovation that significantly upgraded the site. The end result is a more comfortable and convenient setting, as well as a new menu with a wide variety of pub standards and small plates perfect for sharing. Raw salads and slow-roasted mushroom burgers are just two examples of the vegetarian and health-conscious options available.
The band room, though, is the real draw, as it promotes regional musicians and brings in specialised acts from other states and even abroad. Monday Night Mass features three bands playing for free every week, along with $15 parma (chicken and eggplant) and jugs of Carlton Draught.
In the northern suburbs of Melbourne, the Northcote Social Club is a popular pub among the indie-rock crowd where you can enjoy a pre-show snack of nachos or popcorn on the massive back deck. In the adjacent, more intimate band room, patrons can hear a variety of national and international acts for free.
The Gasometer Hotel
Featuring some of the hottest local and international indie rock bands and DJs, The Gasometer Hotel—or Gasos to those in the know—is one of Melbourne's only live music pubs where you can rock out under an open sky. The band room has a huge retractable roof and a wrap-around mezzanine that looks over the stage. After the gig, fill yourself at the restaurant and bar where they do a mean happy hour—$6 pints for 3 hours.
At the beginning of 2019, this beloved rock’n’roll basement joint announced it would close on AC/DC Lane. Its landlord had decided to cash in, so the bar owner was on the hunt for a new location. After a search, Cherry Bar confirmed its new location: a 400 metre move down the road to the old Boney site on Little Collins Street.
The bar has a capacity for 260 people and a seven-day, 24-hour licence. One of the big attractions of the old Cherry Bar was the laid back vibe that permeated the stripped-down, "this is about the music" space; that energy still very much persists at this new location. As a result, Cherry Bar feels just like it always did. Most nights, the space is full of a very mixed crowd, so you can't help but feel at ease. Jeans and a t-shirt are all you need. The decor is no-frills, and seating is always in hot demand – but at Cherry, you should be on your feet.
Music still reigns supreme at this establishment. You can expect to hear samples from rock's repertoire every night: from contemporary rock to retro and Brit-Pop with some techno thrown in as a garnish. There are regular DJs and a weekly timetable, so check which night suits your interests.
This Art Deco theatre located on the beach in Melbourne's St Kilda started its life as a grand cinema in the 1920s. It switched to showing ballet and opera in the 1950s before it turned into a live music venue in the 1960s. With a capacity of nearly 3,000, The Palais has seen some of the biggest acts in the world, from The Rolling Stones to The Beach Boys, and continues to draw a new generation of music lovers.
Bennetts Lane Jazz Club
In classic black-and-white films, do you know how the characters are wooed by the allure of smoke-filled speakeasies playing smooth jazz? Melbourne has an equivalent establishment called Bennetts Lane Jazz Club. You are in the heart of Melbourne, where you can hear fantastic live jazz every night, performed by both local and international artists. You can either get your groove on at the dance floor or relax in one of Bennetts Lane's two listening rooms, depending on the type of show you're there to see.
To be named "the world's best jazz club" by Lonely Planet is no easy feat. The Bennetts Lane Jazz Club in Melbourne, Australia, however, was given this label. Bennetts Lane is a mainstay of the Melbourne Jazz Festival and has played host to some of the biggest names in music, among its many other official and unofficial accolades. They have hosted legendary acts like the Cat Empire. Throughout their nearly three-decade career, they have adhered to a single, unchanging philosophy: the music comes first.
The Toff in Town
The Toff in Town is Curtin House’s dark, glamorous second-floor bar and a CBD mainstay. Opened (of Revolver and Cookie fame), the space features a multipurpose band room and dark and inviting main bar, divided by the reception and coat check. The Toff has been integral to the reinvigorated live-music scene in the CBD, hosting local and international acts from the well known to the obscure in a comfortable, stylish and approachable setting.
The main bar is dominated by several train carriage-like booths that allow for something of a private gathering amidst the din of this bustling bar. Suppose you manage to snag one of these coveted spots, ring for service and order some food from the Thai-inspired menu. A spacious outdoor area at the rear, and the communal front balcony facing Swanston Street, provide sweet relief for those who still smoke, but they do crowd up quickly in the warm weather.
Although some of the wines and cocktails on offer can reach dizzying heights, a strong selection is still available at a reasonable cost. The Toff attracts a diverse crowd, and you’re as likely to spot hipsters catching a gig in the band room as you are young professionals enjoying a fine vintage.
St Kilda may be delightful in the warmer months, but come winter, it’s cold, and you need a pretty damn good reason to head there. Enter Prince Bandroom: nightclub, party venue, and home of some of the best gigs in Melbourne. Known in a past life as the Prince of Wales Bandroom, its hallowed walls have hosted live music for over 60 years. Coldplay, Lenny Kravitz, and Regurgitator have all played in the underground band room at one point or another.
This North Fitzroy bar is full of twists, turns, and surprises, not the least of which is a fully-functional miniature cinema in the back. The 30-seat cinema is available for hire every night of the week and frequently hosts intimate movie screenings and cozy live music performances. Out front, LongPlay has some of Melbourne’s best tin-shakers adeptly serving a full range of classic and contemporary cocktails, as well as a kitchen slinging the Mediterranean inspired share plates and bar nibbles.
When it comes to Melbourne's underground music scene, Rubix is highly regarded. If you're looking for a warehouse party in Brunswick, this place is perfect for you, even though it's on the wrong side of the tracks. The events hosted by Rubix are more than just concerts; they are multi-sensory extravaganzas. Although the tunes are always on point, it's really the vibe that sets Rubix Warehouse apart. Those who prefer electronic, techno, and drum & bass will feel at home here.
The Workers Club
Imagine a traditional pub in Melbourne, with a menu focused on hearty dishes and a beer list that includes the usual suspects. The Workers Club has an eclectic lineup of musicians and a band room that looks smaller than it is.
Settled on a busy intersection in Fitzroy, this venue cranks out live music from a wide variety of local and international acts every day of the week. You shouldn't miss the best party in Fitzroy every Monday night, where you can enjoy a wide selection of alcoholic beverages at bargain prices, tasty food, and lively music.
There are a lot of people sitting on bar stools eating Philly cheesesteaks and drinking beer. There's some blues on the stereo. The bar features a fish tank made out of an old television. The Catfish, named after a classic blues song, opened in late 2013 in the space formerly occupied by Gertrude's Brown Couch. It's laid-back and unassuming, much like the blues.
There are eight draught lines and a refrigerator stocked with all of your favourite beers. The rotating taps are a big deal for the success of small, regional breweries. Many of the wines are from the Victorian era. The increasing number of distilleries in Australia has made it possible to source spirits made from these distilleries within the country. Low ceilings give the impression of entering a hidden cave. The second floor has more room. There's plenty of room to dance, a pool table, and live music or DJ sets every night (except Tuesdays) from Wednesday to Sunday.
The Philadelphia cheesesteaks from Sparrow are also available here. It's a crusty baguette stuffed with sliced beef and melted cheese. Onions, mushrooms, and peppers are common additions. This debate over the origins of the dish has been going on for as long as it has been famous. However, local Philadelphians routinely give the thumbs up to sparrows when tourists ask for their opinion.
Pizza Steak, Bourbon Bacon, and Korean Bulgogi are just a few of the out-of-the-ordinary twists on the classic. But it's tough to top the classic, especially with a side of wings. Additionally, the Vegetarian dish, which features smoked tofu, is highly recommended.
Some Velvet Morning
Some Velvet Morning is Melbourne's best retro live music bar, serving as a cosy cafe during the day and an intimate gig space at night. Blues, folk, and jazz performances by some of the city's finest musicians take place on a small, fold-out stage in the back.
At the front of the building, you'll find a bar stocked with drinks made and bottled in the area, a kitchen dishing out tasty Greek street food, and three taps serving a rotating selection of craft beers.
The Grace Darling Hotel
In a city with a rich history of debased revelry and merrymaking, The Grace Darling Hotel has seen it all—she is Melbourne’s second oldest pub, after all.
These days, The Grace stands proud as a modern inner-city pub, packed with nautical wallpaper and a candlelit bar that serves as a tasteful reminder of the days of yore. The two band rooms have transformed the venue into a mainstay on the local live music circuit and play host to a range of emerging and established artists.
Melbourne has been the home of some of Australia’s best musical exports, from Nick Cave and Crowded House to Gotye and Kylie Minogue. More recently, singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett shot to international fame and found herself a fan of former US president Barack Obama. Melbourne was also the birthplace of St Jerome's Laneway Festival, which now has huge events in Singapore and New Zealand. So come and experience the city’s legendary live music scene for yourself.