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 genes 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.
Hotel Esplanade (The Espy)
Many hearts broke back in May 2015 when crowd favourite, The Espy, closed down. But now days are brighter again, as the reopening in November 2018 brought with it an amazing new fit out, levels we’d never seen before and live music seven days a week. Yes, the Espy is back. And yes, it’s better than ever before.
Geddes Lane is a live music venue from superstar chef Shannon Bennett and Lorenz Grollo (yes, of the Melbourne Grollos). It’s opened up inside the bluestone walls of Geddes Lane, just off King St. In fact, the venue used to be the old Showgirls 20...if that tongue-like runway stage looks at all familiar.
One of the best live music venues in Melbourne, the Corner Hotel boats an impressive lineup month after month. The sleek rooftop bar provides the perfect pre (or post) gig feed and drinks, allowing you plenty of time to mosey downstairs and see some great local and International talent.
Northcote Social Club
Born in 2004, the Northcote Social Club has established itself as one of Melbourne’s most laid-back, solid, live music venues. A few renovations have kept this much-loved space modern and up to date. Hosting a wide variety of acts, you can expect to see plenty of local talent across a range of genres.
The Tote is well and truly Melbourne’s home of rock, and anyone who says otherwise is kidding themselves. Built sometime in the mid-19th century, The Tote came into itself (and its name) in 1980 – the rest is pretty much history. The Tote host some of the best local and Australia rock, punk and heavy metal bands, and also do an elite burger.
The Workers Club
An absolute crowd favourite— The Workers Club sits on the corner of Brunswick and Gertrude street. Establishing itself in 2009, The Workers is a pretty fresh addition to the live music scene, but a great one none the less. They boast a fantastic selection of booze, a classic pub menu and some excellent live gigs.
The Toff in Town
On the second-floor of Curtain House, you’ll find The Toff in Town, a moody, fabulous place to have a drink and enjoy some live music. Featuring a multipurpose band room, The Toff has played host to many local and international acts, establishing itself as a staple of Melbourne’s live music scene. The CBD spot boasts an epic bar selection, with booths available to settle in, grab a drink and enjoy some food from the sensational Thai-inspired menu.
A converted woolshed, Howler Bar is a gem in the heart of Brunswick. Firstly, the food menu is great. Secondly, so is the beer list – boasting a wide range of bevvies from all over the world. And last but not least, two active spaces for live music. The performance space out back hosts some great indie talent and the space out front provides a stage for an elite line of up DJs.
Located in the heart of Fitzroy, The Evelyn attracts a wide range of home-grown and International talent. Expect to catch a live gig most nights of the week, with a beer list to keep you going all night long. A classic pub, The Evelyn doesn’t have the frills and fuss but instead keeps it’s real and comfortable.
Occupying an empty lot in Chinatown, Section 8 is an old shipping container turned bar. With an expensive booze list, Section 8 is perfect in Summer, but really just great all year round. These guys have a roasting list of epic events and great music, we suggest keeping tabs on their socials so you don’t miss out.
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.
A bloody classic. The Prince Bandroom, which resides in The Prince of Wales Hotel, is a venue in its own right and has been boasting some incredible live talent for more than 75 years. Hosting some rad local talent, along with big International players, the Prince Bandroom is a guaranteed good time.
Another iconic Melbourne venue, the Palais Theatre is a multi-use event space, which originally opened in 1919 as a cinema. From there, it has undergone extensive renovations to make it bigger and better, and they’ve delivered. A staple in Melbourne music culture, you can always expect an epic line up at the Palais Theatre.
Image credit: The Band Junction