We love a shindig in Melbourne, where we can dance, sing and holler along to live music acts of every genre. As the nation's live music capital, Melbourne hosts global and local artists on stages big and small. Here, we're talking those bandrooms, hotels and jazz basements that have launched artist's careers and drawn adoring fans time and again.
1. Esplanade Hotel (The Espy)
Melbourne’s legendary live music venue may have received a glitzy refurb, but its Gershwin Room and The Basement still pay their respects to the slew of musicians that take to the stage here. A third small stage on the ground floor continues the Espy’s live-music tradition in this St Kilda locale, but with cocktails, casual bites or dining around the grounds too.
2. The Forum
Groove to live tunes as you gaze at the starry ceiling of this heritage space, which was once the State Theatre. Step off Flinders Street opposite Fed Square and into the Forum’s epic interior, which hosts an impressive lineup of local and international artists, under the watchful gaze of Greco-Roman statues.
3. Corner Hotel
Since the 1940s, crowds have flocked to this live-music haunt in Richmond. Today, the sticky-floored basement bandroom and bar still attract big acts and plenty of punters, who can spill out of the venue in the early hours, conveniently close to Richmond Station. The Corner’s rooftop bar and visiting DJs are crowd-pleasers too.
4. The Gaso
With an epic mezzanine-lined band room and a stacked lineup of diverse musical talent, Collingwood's beloved Gasometer Hotel is a firm favourite on Melbourne's live music scene. Whether you're into rock, electronic, indie or folk, there's something for everyone at the Gaso. Head to the bar or in-house restaurant to fuel up before rocking out.
5. The Tote
This Collingwood live-music pub icon has hosted gigs since the early '80s. After it's near-closure experience off the back of the pandemic, crowd funding helped keep the Tote's doors open. With bands like The White Stripes, The Lemonheads and The Cosmic Psychos as past alumni, this music scene stalwart is all set to belt out bangers into the future.
6. 170 Russell
This city centre gig venue and nightclub began life as the Lido Theatre in 1965. Since then, the walls of 170 Russell (formerly known as Billboard) have heard everything from Tina Turner and AC/DC to Indie bands and international DJs. This is a fan-favourite for uni students and a concert club space for all.
7. The Croxton Bandroom
Bands have been slaying The Croxton's massive stage for decades, back to when it was known as The Croc in the '70s. From its pub-rock heyday, hosting the likes of Cold Chisel, INXS and Midnight Oil, a reinvention some years back means it now hosts live-music acts of all genres.
8. The Night Cat
Lounge around the central circular stage at Fitzroy's Night Cat, which has long been a staple on Melbourne's live-music scene. From funk to disco and hip hop to R'n'B, this is one amber-lit gig outfit with all the moves. Check out Sunday night Salsa Classes and Latin Bands to limber up for the week ahead.