We might not be able to hit the dance floor right now, but that isn't stopping Brisbane's many live music venues from adapting with the times and doing their best to get all our incredible local musicians back on stage. Numbers may be capped, seats may be limited and gigs may sell out faster than they ever have before, but the vibes are still strong and the music is louder than ever.
From the institutions that we know and love to small neighbourhood venues, these are the best live music venues right now in Brisbane. Show up, dance with your hands and say cheers to them for keeping the lights on.
Black Bear Lodge
Situated in the heart of Brisbane’s live music hub Fortitude Valley, Black Bear Lodge is known for getting first dibs on live EP sets and intimate touring gigs. Black Bear's trivia nights, old-school dance parties, and '90s-flavour DJ sets have contributed to making this live music venue a firm favourite with musos and music appreciators alike. If you're frothing for some of Queensland’s best emerging acts, head along to Sunday Service on a Sunday—entry is free.
Housed in a former church in the heart of The Valley, The Brightside is an iconic venue on Brisbane’s live music scene. Known for its eclectic gig nights big and small, be it local up and comers or big-ticket tours, they've got a banging beer garden that hosts regular dog-friendly parties. With karaoke, music trivia and sing-a-long nights on the usual line up, The Brightside knows how to start and end a great night of music.
Channelling the New York underground is ultimate cool kid, Brooklyn Standard. This is the kind of atmospheric bar we would gladly spend many an evening regardless, but the fact there are acts performing seven nights a week makes it a must do. The stylish locale features the sounds of jazz, soul, funk and blues, and has an extensive drinks list to match.
Suzie Wong’s Good Time Bar
Who is Suzie Wong? You don't need to know—all that matters is that she is here for a good time. Along with a knock out pina colada, Hawaiian dive bar Suzie Wong’s puts on a variety of events and shindigs every week, with live music four nights a week and hospitality nights every Sunday. Put your eyes on their Facebook page to keep up to date with what’s on, or just dive into the surfy dive bar for craft beers, wines and cocktails.
The Sound Garden
Sitting in prime position on Brunswick Street Mall next to Fortitude Music Hall, The Sound Garden is Fortitude Valley's epic new bar and restaurant that will take your next Valley night out to the next level—literally. Taking over two massive floors with space for 700 punters, the ground floor is where you'll find the live music stage, with local artists playing chilled tunes on weekends.
An old commercial hangar, The Triffid is a Brisbane icon for live music. The baby of Powderfinger bassist John Collins (a man who knows a thing or two about the live music), the venue has been home to the international elite alongside local and national up and comers for years and is wildly known for its fostering of emerging bands. These days the 800-capacity space has been turned into a cabaret-style venue with table service booze, but you can always hit the beer garden for chilled tunes on any given night.
The Flamin Galah
The Flamin' Galah in Brisbane's CBD one seriously groovy live music lounge. Open seven days a week, The Flamin' Galah has local bands playing every night, serves up some cracking bar food and has a fully stocked back bar to ensure the good time keep rolling.
For the uninitiated, The Zoo is Brisbane's longest-standing live music venue/nightclub. The Zoo is a bar that caters to the more independent end of the musical spectrum, and in any week, the Zoo could serve up everything from hip hop, jazz, rock, and pop to acoustic, folk, dub and reggae.
Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall
Lefty's Old Time Music Hall is Brisbane's answer to the honky tonks of the USA's of old. Home to knee-slapping country music and dive bar-style American eats, this a classic local bar that champions a wealth of live music every Thursday to Saturday. Be sure to take a break from the tunes and scope out the secret Mermaid Bar while you're there—ordering a whisky apple is a must.
The Tivoli has long been considered one of the best live music venues in Brisbane, playing host to both the biggest and up-and-coming acts. Known for its intimate atmosphere and grand, almost regal, decor, if your favourite band is playing in Brisbane, there's a good chance they'll be playing at The Tivoli. Right now, they're doing intimate cabaret-style events with food provided by nearby City Winery—scope out what's on the calendar here.
The Bearded Lady
The Bearded Lady is easily one of the coolest bars on West End's main drag—the fact that they have live music is just a bonus. With walls covered in graffiti, beer flowing freely from pipes, super creative cocktails, and tunes from some of the best local acts, The Bearded Lady is definitely a favourite. Bonus—they're BYO food.
If you prefer to catch a game while you drink, check out Brisbane's best sports bars.
Image credit: Ariana Gillrie, Jeff Andersen, Sophie Spencer