5 Mar 2018
Feel immediately welcome as you wander into this charming venue, which is open nightly until late. Open Studio [204 High Street, Northcote] is more than a live music venue, it’s also a creperie, with delectable savoury and sweet crepes offered all night long. With at least 40 musical acts booked in every month, you can settle in for entertainment seven days a week. Walk by and it’s hard not to get caught up in the infectious vibe spilling out onto the street. Catch some jazz cats during a residency or discover up-and-coming talent stamping their individuality on everything from acoustic folk to blues — the full range of genres is represented on the venue calendar.
Perfect for... A cosy date night for lovers of coffee, cocktails and crepes.
Boasting two separate performance spaces, 303 [303 High Street, Northcote] makes room for fans of many different genres. The diversity of shows is what makes it one of the best loved in Melbourne. Rock up on any given night and you could be treated to jazz, folk, indie, rock, soul, funk, world or even comedy.
The Front Bar is almost completely glass fronted, giving you a sneaky peak inside as arrive. The grungy, recycled look, with casually mismatched decor, extends into the Band Room at the back. The shabby chic ends there, with the main stage fully decked out with a newly updated sound system.
Perfect for... Meeting up with friends or making new ones.
This has to be one of the most laidback and unpretentious bars Melbourne has to offer. As the name suggests, The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar [238 Victoria Street, West Melbourne] is all about the guitars, drums and massive vocals. Catch locals and legends rocking out from Wednesday night right through the weekend. More recently punters have been coming here from far and wide for the inventive vegan menu options, but you won’t find much salad in sight. Just like the rock, the food is robust and packs a punch. If you like it loud and late (it’s open till 7am on the weekend) this is the place to be.
Perfect for... Rocking out before or after a good feed.
It’s big enough to play host to high-profile events like the Brunswick Music Festival, yet still small enough to feel like you can get to know the staff and become a regular. This is Howler [7–11 Dawson Street, Brunswick], and it’s definitely a venue to have on your radar if you want to stay on the cutting edge of cool or discover the next big thing. Howler has cemented its position as a north-side favourite, with shows ranging from international bands and DJs, through to pop-up theatre events and Raw Comedy acts as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. There’s also a great menu of burgers and the potatoes come four different ways.
Perfect for... Catching big name acts in a more intimate venue.
At this charming Irish bar, the gigs are free all the time. Featuring mostly local acoustic acts, The Drunken Poet [65 Peel Street, West Melbourne] has become a beacon for the folk and acoustic community to gather, network and share their music. This place is an urban interface between the players and the punters. The regular open mic night sees some of Melbourne’s brightest undiscovered talent delight the crowd with originals and a little improv thrown in. You know an Irish pub is not just a gimmick, when the Irish Times has voted it one the top 10 best Irish pubs (outside Ireland) in the world. This place is the real deal, delivering heart, talent and genuine hospitality. Grab a simple and tasty toasted sandwiches and start a conversation.
Perfect for... A chance to rub shoulders with musicians while enjoying a drink.
Don’t let the dishevelled 90s garage look fool you — this place is nothing less than Melbourne’s soul of rock ’n’ roll. Locals will recall the citywide protests when changes to licencing laws threatened The Tote’s [67–71 Johnston St, Collingwood] closure in 2010. Since then, the inimitable venue has humbly rocked on to the present day, having played host to the likes of The White Stripes, The Birthday Party, You Am I, Silverchair, Paul Kelly and too many more to name drop.
Perfect for... Making memories at a legendary venue that is part of Melbourne’s music scene.
The Lomond [223 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East] is like a country pub in the city. The owners are focused on creating an experience to keep punters coming back, and this is evident in everything from the music to the menu. This is the ideal music venue if you don’t like taking a chance on open mics. While you may not be familiar with every artist who takes to the stage, you can trust that the Lomond is. It supports ‘matured’ musicians and songwriters who have worked to establish themselves on Melbourne’s scene. The varied genres — acoustic roots, country, swing, world music and R&B — attract an older crowd, families and groups. The locals keep the dance floor warm six night a week, and would love you to join them.
Perfect for... Dancing like nobody is watching.
Not yet five years old, The Catfish [30 Gertrude St, Fitzroy] has already become a firm favourite with locals, for getting the simple things right. The craft beer, great music and authentic Philly cheesesteaks keep the crowds coming. Most gigs are low cost or free, with a distinct inner-urban vibe. Local independent artists share the stage with emerging international acts and comedians. There’s always something new to discover here. The Catfish attracts a younger crowd, couples and visitors keen to check out what the fuss is about.
Perfect for... Craft beer and indie sounds.