Nothing beats an evening crammed into a hot, sweaty bar, discovering a band that’ll later be blaring out of year earphones for weeks to come. Whether you’re looking for late-night jazz, sleazy rock’n’roll, or the latest electro genius, Melbourne’s got a plethora of venues that’ll cater to your every musical whim. Stuck for a date idea, gagging for a boogie, or simply fancy getting some cultcha in ya? Here are our top hidden gems for music lovers, from gig venues to vinyl hideouts.
For Live Gigs
The Prince Bandroom, St Kilda
It’s all too easy to overlook St Kilda institution, The Prince Bandroom. Now with fusion food on site, thanks to the newly opened POW Kitchen, it’s the perfect spot for catching some old favourites and rising stars on the southside. Looking to lock something in? US singer Santigold plays the venue on Wednesday 20 July, promising cool beats and attitude until the early hours.
The Old Bar, Fitzroy
Yep, it’s hot, it’s sweaty, and the carpet’s been doused in beer many, many times, but Johnston Street music venue The Old Bar just keeps on giving. You’ll find bargain gigs and beers on Mundane Mondays, which feature heaps of local acts cutting their musical teeth, and an assortment of acts other nights of the week. You just can’t knock a classic.
Upstairs at The John Curtin, Carlton
With Leonard’s House of Love manning the kitchen and enough tap beers to satisfy the thirstiest of music fans, the John Curtin is a fantastic spot for catching Australian talent as well as lesser known international acts. One tip: Be ready to party, because these guys go hard.
Birds Basement, Melbourne CBD
Keeping it classy? Jazz bar Birds Basement is the Australian counterpart to New York’s famous Birdland jazz club, and hosts a variety of local and international stars on its intimate stage. A dinner-and-a-show kind of affair, this is one for both aficionados and newbies.
Cherry Bar, Melbourne CBD
It’s a rock bar! It’s on AC/DC Lane! It’s guaranteed to give you the hangover of your life! Need we say more?
Howler, hands-down, has one of the best sound systems in Melbourne, so it’s no surprise that gigs are continually packed out by enthusiastic crowds. Get there early and grab a cocktail and burger, then head to the back room for the main event.
Max Watt’s, Melbourne CBD
Ever wondered what people are queuing for when you see a line form opposite the Town Hall? Nine times out of ten, they’re waiting for doors to open at Max Watt’s (previously the Hi-Fi). From disco to hardcore, the shows here are widely varied, so it’s best to know what you’re headed to before descending into the epic basement venue.
Houndstooth Bar & Lofi Record Store, Fitzroy
Part-gig venue, part-bar, part-record store, this Fitzroy find is well worth a look if you’re passing through the suburb. Houndstooth itself serves some tasty food and drinks (we ordered what we thought was a green juice—it was an apple vodka mojito), and if you’re in need of at-home inspiration, pick up a recommended record from the Lofi team.
Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne CBD
As well as being a fantastic spot for a bit of unpretentious late-night dancing on a Saturday (quote-unquote, “Who gives a fuck about Sunday mornings anyway,”) Ding Dong is a cracking gig venue for local bands, touring acts and everything in between. Guaranteed good times.
For Music Needs
Vinyl Revival, Fitzroy
In need of a turntable, some unbelievable headphones, or that impossible-to-find bit of kit that will turn your current set-up into the music experience of your dreams? Get to Vinyl Revival and you’ll be sure to find what you need, along with another 2,602 music gadgets you’ll be wanting after for weeks to come.
Union Heights, Windsor
If hip-hop is your bag, Union Heights on Chapel Street is a must-visit, where you’ll find records, memorabilia, graffiti supplies and more. Who knew there was more to Chapel Street than cocktail bars?!
Profile Music, Prahran
If hard-to-find records and foreign imports are your bag, you’ll love Profile Music on Greville Street, where you’ll find everything form the latest Warp release to funk and soul classics. And while you’re in the area, pop to Greville Records too.
The Searchers, Fitzroy
Love a bargain binge that includes books too? The Searchers in Fitzroy keeps vinyl, reconditioned turntables, books and oddities in its compact store. A must for music fans who aren’t limited by genre or decade.
Eureka Rebellion Trading, Collingwood
From Iron Maiden to Tupac, Eureka Rebellion keeps a cracking selection of records and books, as well as housing a tattoo parlour and barbers. Looking for a gift for a dude with eclectic tastes? This place will sort you out in no time at all.
Thornbury Records, Thornbury
Thornbury is a hotbed for record stores that are crammed full of everything from new releases to hard-to-find special editions. If you’re keen to grab the latest tunes, Thornbury Records is a must-visit. They’re also our go-to for local vinyl releases (yes, there *are* people out there still releasing singles on the trusty ol’ format!), and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, pop to neighbouring hub, The Music Jungle, for new and second hand gems.
Skydiver is all about weird vintage finds and musical peculiarities, making it perfect for sourcing that 70’s Bollywood disco fusion compilation you never knew you needed. Half of their stock is worth buying for the cover artwork lols alone.
Need more hip music hotspots? Check out Melbourne's Best Band & Brew Venues!
Image credit: The Searchers via Facebook