Like Manchester, Nashville, Berlin and Austin, Melbourne is a city heavily defined by its live music scene. Every night of every week, intoxicating sounds echo down laneways. And locals take it seriously. International bands haven’t dubbed Melbourne ‘the city of folded arms’ for nothing.
Progressive liquor licensing laws mean that venues like infamous rock den Cherry Bar (on AC/DC Lane, no less) can compete mere footsteps away from the stately Forum Theatre and the mega-arenas.
Outside the city centre, the grubby beachside hub of St Kilda – where Nick Cave and Paul Kelly cut their teeth – has been superseded over the last two decades by the inner north. Sticky carpet meccas like The Tote, the Gasometer Hotel, The Old Bar and The Public Bar are goldmines for the next big thing in indie, punk, rock and solo artists, and the bounty extends north to Brunswick’s larger venues. That’s nothing to say of the legendary inner east pub, The Corner, where the most buzzworthy acts from home and abroad converge.
The Old Bar, Johnston St
The rainy city is an essential stop for every international turn and breeds world-class acts. It’s the home of Gotye, the Avalanches, Kylie Minogue, Cut Copy, Jet and more, while newer acts like Alpine, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, the Twerps, Pony Face, Dick Diver, Money for Rope, New War, Gold Fields and the Smith Street Band are already seeping out in the world. Hipster festival Laneway, now international, began in a maze of alleys in the city centre. The musicians, venues and backroom labels are all united by robust and adored community radio stations like PBS and Triple R.
With hundreds of acts from around the world performing every week in Melbourne, music fans are spoilt for choice. It’s more likely you’ll have to make some hard decisions about what you can afford to miss.