Music venues have been under assault all across the world.
Former theatres and clubs demolished to make way for swanky new developments that, although look good, can rip the heart and soul out of cities if not done right. But then there are the venues that are doing all the hard work of putting on shows week-in, week-out; supporting the local live music scene and giving punters something to rave about, because nobody wants to live in a boring city, right? (Featured image: Dan Burton)
So, check out our handy guide to venues putting on shows around Sydney or have a geez at our weekly gig guide if you’re looking for something specific.
1. Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst
Sydney’s iconic warehouse-styled venue has been one of the driving forces in keeping the city’s live music scene alive and kicking, continuously attracting international acts and parties to its stage and dancefloor.
However, its efforts supporting the local live music community is second to none, knowing full well that lesser-known bands will never catch a break if they have nowhere to perform. Consequently, the Oxford Art Factory’s Gallery Bar (the smaller, narrower space within the venue) has seen the rise of numerable great artists and bands, such as Jezebels, Chet Faker, the Rubens, and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, and even Tame Impala who once performed in front of only 25 people.
📍 38-46 Oxford Street
2. The Agincourt Hotel, Ultimo
Upstairs in the Agincourt Hotel you’ll find a public bar, with all the drink, food and sport you can ask for. But downstairs, it’s the Underground Bar and Nightclub, serving up local live music every weekend, sometimes even on a Thursday night. Expect any and all variations of rock to be performed on stage. And to further entice punters along, downstairs serves up $5 tinnies and $7 house spirits between 6-9pm.
📍 871 George Street
3. Frankie’s Pizza, CBD
Rock. Hard Rock. Heavy Metal.
That’s what you’re gonna hear at Frankie’s — a marriage between a pizza parlour and a dive bar. It consistently puts on live performances every week. Frankie’s World Famous House Band plays every Monday, there’s rock’n’roll karaoke on Tuesdays, and then bands again on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Where else will you go for pizza and rock?
📍 50 Hunter Street
4. Lazybones Lounge, Marrickville
How many days a week do you need live music? Well, if you’re Lazybones Lounge, the answer to that question is seven. And since they opened doors, they have been helping local acts to gain experience and a following, which is why you’ll most likely be paying a modest cover charge to get in. But hey, it goes towards the music so that’s fine by us. Although there is a jazz focus to the music playing over the speakers, expect to hear anything from folk to reggae on stage.
📍 Level 2, 294 Marrickville Road
5. Camelot Lounge, Marrickville
For thirteen years, the Camelot Lounge has been providing Sydney with a boutique music venue, which has seen a range of local and international soul, funk, jazz, blues, folk and cabaret acts perform on either of its two stages. The best part about this space is that it is artist-curated. And we also like their friendly nature that helps bring music and people together.
📍 Marrickville Road & Railway Parade
6. The Chippo Hotel, Chippendale
Get down to the basement and enjoy live music every weekend, with a mix of local Sydney bands and bands from around the country on their national tour. Don’t expect any one genre to dominate the soundwaves, as you’re just as likely to hear house and techno as you are thrash metal in this place.
📍 87-91 Abercrombie Street
7. The Hideaway Bar, Enmore
Although it’s the home of Rock n’ Roll in the inner west, The Hideaway Bar plays host to all sorts of musical genres, refusing to stick to one and giving the city a venue that locals love.
With live music from Wednesday to Saturday, and the occasional Sunday sesh thrown in for good measure, this smallish bar with craft beer on tap does not disappoint.
📍 156 Enmore Road
8. The MoshPit, Erskineville
A local bar run by locals showcasing local talent four nights a week with no cover charge. Phewf. This is what dreams are made of if you’re a rock’n’roll fan. And to prove it as well, just look to the walls and explore the history of who has passed through MoshPit Bar. There’s also local beer on tap, $10 cocktails, and an open mic night on Wednesdays where all performers get a free drink.
📍 642A King Street
9. The Vanguard, Newtown
To find out how seriously The Vanguard takes live music, just check out the specs page on their website, listing the all essential information that bands and artists need to know. That’s saying something. The stage plays host to jazz, blues, rock, and country, as well as seeing some Triple J bands come through. But our favourite part of The Vanguard is the aesthetic — a grungy elegance, or so they call it.
📍 42 King Street
10. Butcher’s Brew, Dulwich Hill
Established by live-music junkie Caroline Buckingham, this small 50-seat bar in Dulwich Hill has been putting on live music most nights of the week since it opened. It’s become a firm favourite with musicians, not only because the old butchers saw a $30,000 soundproofing, but all of the cover charge ($10) goes to the performers. Music tends to be on the jazz tip, with blues, funk and world music also being played. However, the venue does open itself up to other genres quite often.
📍 499 Marrickville Road