Winter's on its way, and music lovers are clocking-up a heavy appetite for live entertainment: warm and cosy bars where they can escape the chilly weather and experience quality local acts (some with more quality than others).
If you’re looking for good spots to support local artists, or you’re a performer searching for more gigs, welcome to our list of open mic nights right here in Australia's live music capital.
Musos from all over can gather in the heart of the city and join in Cherry Jam Mondays from 6.30 – 11.30pm. Play with your band or jam with someone else’s. Drumsticks and guitar leads are BYO, but everything else from the backline to their famous Cherry stage is already waiting for your Beatles-in-Hamburg moment.
The Drunken Poet
A stone’s throw from the Vic Market lies The Drunken Poet, well loved for its live music and fortnightly open mic that pulls punters from all over town. On the first and third Thursday of the month, you'll get a lively mix of poetry, spoken word and live tunes. Registrations start at 7.30pm for an 8pm start. Don’t forget to grab some Guinness to wash it all down (or build up your confidence).
The Queensberry Hotel
The Queensbury's Tuesday night open mics are back, and all budding musicians are welcome to have a crack. Performances start at 8pm at the open-air back bar. The mics, mixer, guitar and bevs are all provided, so you could totally rock up empty-handed and still get some airtime.
Baxter's are champs at celebrating new local music, pulling crowds with their fortnightly WORLD FAMOUS open mic, hosted by Kiwat Kennell every second Sunday. Kick back with cheeky drinks at happy hour to catch Melb’s fresh talent on the mic from 5pm.
You can check out Bar Oussou’s famous local artist showcase from 8pm onwards. Performers, give them a ring by 4pm for priority slots or simply come and sign up on the spot. There's a one-a-month jazz Jam on Mondays too. Nice one.
Hardiman’s Live Music Hotel
As the name suggests, Hardiman’s has a great atmosphere for live acoustic music, and heaps of drinks to match. Pop by on Mondays from 7.30pm for their open mic night hosted by Wango Bango (just book in advance on the day, or prior, if you’d like to go on stage).
Whole Lotta Love
Every Wednesday from 6pm, Ben Bray hosts the open mic night at Whole Lotta Love on Lygon Street. Make sure you snag their $15 jugs at their happy hour from 7-8pm. Makes the tunes sound twice as good.
Flemington Bowls Club
Got a massive love for the blues? Flemington Bowls Club's got Blues Jam Nights, courtesy of the Melbourne Blues Appreciation Society, every Tuesday evening on the corner of Smithfield & Racecourse Roads. Kitchen’s open for meals from 6.30pm, though the programme only starts at 8pm with their weekly feature act, and lasts till 11pm. Jammers, bring your voices, guitars, drumsticks, harps and whatever you play – everyone is welcome.
Ascot Vale Hotel
All it takes to guarantee an open mic spot is to turn up at Ascot Vale Hotel on Wednesday nights, where a reasonably priced menu and Guinness on tap awaits. From 7pm till 10.30pm, people can take their instruments and their passion to the stage in a comfy setting.
The Brunswick Hotel
Open mic night at the Brunny packs a full house every Wednesday with hosts Momann and Soundie Az, where poets, comedians, dancers and musicians are welcome to hit the lights. Regos start at 6.30pm and slots are drawn at 7.45pm. They’re giving away $10 jugs and complimentary beer too (for those needing liquid courage to stand in front of the crowd). Pro-tip: Bring a USB and take home your recorded performance.
No matter your age or genre, everyone can join in the fun every Sunday at Musicland from 7.30pm. With a quality backline and recordings available, it’s a great spot up north for all of your open mic needs. And for the hangry performers, they’ve got pizza, pasta and parmas available to order to your table.
The Vic Bar
Every first Sunday of the month at The Vic, it’s R&B and soul open mic night with Let’s Vibe, who assemble some amazing crowds for their Sunday Sessions. Bring your dancing shoes for a good night out.
St Kilda East
Most bars end their open mics after a season, but this is Balaclava Hotel’s fourth year running the open mic tradition on Thursday nights from 7pm to 11.30pm. Punters and players are all warmly welcomed in their cozy space and spontaneous jams are encouraged. Hot tip: At least one original act each month will be selected for a paid set as a Friday night feature act at 9pm.
The Windsor Alehouse
Pegged as the best bar in the area, this alehouse is best known for its impressive tap rotation, plus a bunch of organised weekly fun. Wednesday’s lively open mic night kicks off at 9pm each week and brings in a variety of talent. Swing by to enjoy new tunes, sip on some top-notch craft beer, and sink your teeth into $15 parma specials. Aww yisss.
Between 2-5pm on the last Sunday of each month, all musos are welcome for the open mic arvo at Pony Music’s underground stage. Designed to give artists more stage experience, these are a great way to rehearse onstage in front of an audience of fellow musicians. You’ll want to get there early, ‘cause the sign-up whiteboard fills super fast.
The rooftop bar is a fab boho setting where you can enjoy good music and good company. Get your weekly dose of open mic music with their $16.50 parmas (performers get a free drink each!) Plus, there’s a pool table, pinball machine and a few arcade games for pre and post-show entertainment. Don't forget that glorious view.
Kelly’s Bar & Kitchen
Dinner, beer and live music, sorted. Thursdays from 8.30pm to 10.30pm, Kelly’s plays host to those who want to try out their skills in front of one of the friendliest stages in Melbourne. It’s not too intimidating for beginners and everything’s already set (including music stands for those who need lyrics… a.k.a. most of us.)
The Oak Tree Tavern
Thursdays and Fridays are set aside JUST for jam nights and karaoke, so that customers can get up on stage to showcase their best talents. And there's a delicious array of food in the form of chicken, steak, seafood and pasta. Bring your instruments, voice and ears, and we’ll see you at The Oak Tree Tavern.
Need even MORE music in your system this side of winter? We’ve shone some light on some hidden gems for Melbournian music lovers.
Image credit: William Iven