A City Guide to Live Music in Australia

Australia is a vast country and, as such, is home to many different types of people. One thing that everybody is guaranteed to have in common however, no matter where they’re from, is a love of music. It’s an integral part of every culture and every community, so whether you’re in the northernmost tip of Darwin or down in the streets of Melbourne, you’re bound to find great live music being played – it’s just about knowing where to look!

Perth

You may already be familiar with the chilled, blissed out hippy vibes of bands like Tame Impala and John Butler Trio, and are looking to discover something similar. Well, Perth was the city that produced these two bands and is home to many others, so you should certainly check out its healthy live music scene. Venues such as Jack Rabbit Slim’s and The Ellington Jazz Club not only sound cool but also showcase the best retro-tinged musical talent. Or you could always head down to Fremantle to check out the regular roster of insanely talented buskers there. If you’re after something a little more mainstream, the Perth Arena hosts concerts from massive international names like Rihanna, Drake and Katy Perry.

Melbourne

Named by some as the music capital of Australia, and by others as music capital of the world, Melbourne is guaranteed to treat your eardrums to some brand new sounds. Practically the whole city comes alive with live music weeknights and weekends, with venues as diverse as Cherry Bar, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club and Rubix vying for your attention. The variety of talent on offer may seem overwhelming at first, but the alternative is to look at it as an endless smorgasbord of delight, ready and waiting to be sampled. The Curtin is 100% recommended for a mindblowing intimate experience, and Retreat Hotel for laidback casual brilliance.

The Opera House lit up at Vivid Sydney 2017
The Opera House lit up at Vivid Sydney 2017

Sydney

Perhaps Australia’s best known city across the globe is Sydney, home of the magnificent Sydney Opera House. You might want to head straight there to catch a big act like Iggy Pop or Hozier, or you might be more comfortable strolling through the cosy back-street venues in the city. The classic Lansdowne Hotel is a must-see for everything from folk to punk rock, whereas the Oxford Art Gallery is a painfully cool venue where the likes of Chet Faker and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard have played to small (lucky) crowds. In a place that’s regularly voted one of the best cities in the world, you can’t really put a foot wrong.

Byron Bay

A trip to Byron Bay is likely to involve plenty of sun, sea and surf. When I’m down that way, I know I like to wind down during the day with some games at Plarium or PokerStarsCasino. However, once the temperature cools down and night falls, I’m ready to venture out and find a music venue or two. Luckily, in Byron Bay you’re spoilt for choice; places like The Northern and The Beach Hotel offer live music every night and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere to go with it. Smaller venues like Bangalow and Lulu’s Café are also in the game, making sure you have plenty of local talent to choose from.

Cairns

A hot destination in more ways than one, Cairns may be the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, but it is not a hustling bustling city. Think more a medium-sized stop off catering to backpackers, tourists and nature seekers. However, if you’re up there in tropical North Queensland and in the mood for a song or two, look no further than The Pier Bar or the nearby Conservatory Bar. These are both cute, casual venues offering up a mixture of live music, DJs, cocktails and tasty food. What could be better than an acoustic guitar as the sun sets over the beautiful Reef?

Adelaide

Arty and smart, Adelaide is a city you won’t want to miss out on. With museums, galleries and other creative spaces galore, it certainly doesn’t disappoint when it comes to live music venues either. Tapas bar Casablabla has live music until late every weekend, Rhino Room has everything from hip hop to stand-up comedy to live bands, and Jive promises a good old fashioned indie knees up. Perhaps the most accessible option, however, is affectionately nicknamed venue The Gov; with 20 years’ experience in the biz, they really know how to put on a good show.

So, wherever you find yourself in the great land of Australia, you’re now armed with enough knowledge to find yourself a stellar live music event for the evening. Whether your taste runs to rock ‘n’ roll, indie, punk, classical, jazz or a mix of everything, you can rest safe in the knowledge that Australia has it all.