Ten years on from the defining SLAM Rally protest, credited as the catalyst for Melbourne’s live music scene as we know it today, the city is now home to more live music venues per capita than any other global city with 553.
Melbourne’s credentials as a live music destination will be reinforced this season with internationally acclaimed musician Courtney Barnett returning home to take the stage for MTV Unplugged Melbourne at Howler followed by Melbourne Music Week (14-23 November).
Visitors can find their Melbourne beat at these top neighbourhood venues on any given night of the week.
A reimaged space in the heart of Melbourne’s inner-north has quickly established itself as a serious live music venue. The former woolshed was converted into an urban oasis of swaying trees and hanging gardens which frames a unique open live music venue and intimate bars. Set amongst a city of well-worn and sticky live music venues, Howler Theatre is a new kid on the block and its purpose-built space is complete with state of the art sound and lighting systems. With booking ranging from International bands and DJ's through to fringe and theatre Howler is the home of performance in north of Melbourne. 7-11 Dawson St, Brunswick, Victoria, 3056. (03) 9077 5572.
Many locals shed a tear over the demise of the once-renowned Rob Roy Hotel, but the venue was reborn as The Workers Club and is now a favourite with the young indie/arts crowd. This Fitzroy institution has been a cornerstone of Melbourne’s live music revival over the last 10 years with gigs seven days a week. While the exterior of the hotel appears in touched, the inside has been given a makeover but still retains fingerprints of its history past. More than just a pub, the diverse venue also features artists’ studios for rent, upstairs. 51 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065. (03) 9415 6558.
All that is enticing and unique about Melbourne can be found in the bay-side neighbourhood of St. Kilda. Traditionally a haven for the city’s artists, immigrants and other exotic characters, for over 100 years people have flocked to this seaside suburb in pursuit of pleasure. Today the cornerstone of St. Kilda’s musical pleasures resides within the Prince Bandroom, near the corner of Fitzroy and Acland Streets. The Prince Bandroom has been a host to live music for more than six decades. It has played host to the likes of Lenny Kravitz, Jack Johnson, Scissor Sisters, Ben Harper, Pink, Coldplay, Bright Eyes and Goldfrapp to name but a very select few. 29 Fitzroy St, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182. (03) 9536 1168.
Melbourne’s gritty home of rock keeps its doors open late serving beers and burgers with a side of live punk, thrash, metal and rock for punters who like to live on the more raucous side of life. After 20,000 angry music fans hit the streets to protest new licensing laws that led to The Tote's closure in 2010, this beloved church of punk rock reopened six months later. Now, this crusty jewel in the crown of Melbourne's rock scene is just doing what it does best – beer garden BBQs, hazy late nights and heaving, sweaty rock 'n' roll. 67-71 Johnston Street, Melbourne. (03) 9419 5320.
A step up from the neighbourhood's working-class origins, Collingwood's refurbished Gasometer Hotel – known with affection as the 'Gaso' – packs in live music fans throughout the week in its mezzanine-lined bandroom. Local and Australian acts bring in the punters through winter, when bodies pack in, sweaty and shoulder to shoulder, and in summer, when the retractable roof rolls back above the atrium and the night breeze flows in. 484 Smith Street, Collingwood, Victoria, 3066. (03) 9416 3335.
The iconic St Kilda live music venue re-opened its doors in December after three-and-a-half years. Home to the famed Gershwin Room, the historic hotel was given a new lick of paint and then some. Affectionately known by locals as ‘The Espy’, the venue will host live music seven nights a week across three band rooms and features a culinary offering to rival any other. For the first time ever, all five levels are open to the public offering music, arts, cocktails, beer, wine, food and fun, including a new cocktail bar in the top floor apartment of former long-term resident and philanthropist Alfred Felton. 11 The Esplanade, St Kilda, Victoria, 3182, (03) 9534 0211
Featuring a never-ending line up of hometown heroes, interstate bands and international artists, this is the quintessential Melbourne bandroom. Arrive early for top-notch bar meals any night of the week and stick around for post-gig DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. It's not a bad spot for a sunny afternoon beer, either. Pick up an ice cold beer, grab a seat on the sunny deck, and tuck into a killer counter meal. And what's more, it's kid friendly and has live music most nights of the week. 301 High Street, Northcote, Victoria, 3070. (03) 9489 3917.
The Corner Hotel has been part of Melbourne’s music landscape since the late 19th century. Located in the popular neighbourhood of Richmond, it’s proximity to the local train station has made The Corner Hotel a favourite watering hole and live music venue. Since the mid-1980’s the bandroom has seen everyone from budding musicians cut their teeth on the Corner’s stage to international acts which included unannounced performances by Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger and legendary Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour. The Corner Hotel was recently named the 25th best live music club venue in the world by Pollstar for tickets sold in the first half of 2019. No gig would be complete without a tipple on the venue’s expansive rooftop. 57 Swan St, Richmond, Victoria, 3121.
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