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Nine venues in Birmingham to enjoy live music

Written by
Becky Morton

As the UK's second city, Birmingham has always drawn in a huge range of top musicians. It prides itself with a music scene of incredible diversity, with venues specialising in everything from reggae to jazz and indie rock.

So where is the best place to go if you're seeking to discover the rising stars of the future or experience an electrifying intimate gig with your favourite artist? Here are just a few suggestions:  

1. Hare and Hounds  


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This local institution boasts an impressive schedule of live acts from a huge variety of genres, including electronica, acoustic and rock. Past bookings include Basement Jaxx, Hot 8 Brass Band and, most famously, UB40, who played their first gig here in 1979. The acoustics are also second to none.

High Street, Kings Heath, B14 7JZ

2. The Oobleck


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A relatively new kid on the block, The Oobleck has firmly established itself as one of Birmingham’s best small venues. It benefits from a prime location in the Custard Factory, at the heart Birmingham’s alternative centre in Digbeth.  With a capacity of just 400, this is a great place to catch an up-and-coming name in an intimate atmosphere. 

Digbeth High Street, Deritend, B9 4AT

3. Spotted Dog


Another Digbeth favourite, the Spotted Dog has weekly live music nights featuring jazz, blues and Irish folk. Traditional, yet quirky, the pub stakes a claim to one of the most unusual beer gardens in the city with its collection of vintage oddities. 

104 Warwick Street, Digbeth, B12 0NH

4. The Jam House 

flikr/Tim Ellis

For a more sophisticated experience, try up-market jazz venue The Jam House. Created by the legendary Jools Holland, the exclusive venue is hugely popular – so book early to nab one of the balcony tables overlooking the main stage. Food and drink is pricey though and you need to dress to impress.

3-5 St Paul’s Street B31 QU

5. The Sunflower Lounge


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Opened in the 1990s, this is one of the best places in Birmingham to discover rising local stars. The Sunflower Lounge has played a key role in supporting local bands, hosting Brummie favourites such as JAWS and Peace, who have since become widely acclaimed. The grungy yet friendly atmosphere attracts rockers of all ages and the kitchen also serves up mouth-watering hot-dogs and burgers. 

76 Smallbrook Queensway, B5 4EG

6. The Dark Horse


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Another newcomer, The Dark Horse joins a host of acclaimed pubs in Moseley. Since the closure of the nearby Bulls Head, the venue has taken over the much-loved reggae night, Jam Jah Mondays, which features local favourite Lion Art of Friendly Fire band.

On top of this there are also regular gigs and DJ nights, playing an assortment of Soul, Funk, Reggae, Blues and acoustic, in the 200 capacity space upstairs. 

145 Alcester Road, Moseley, B13 8JP

7. Outdoor Arena at the MAC 


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The outdoor arena at the MAC centre might not be the first venue that springs to mind, but in the summer it runs a series of events for the public.

Alongside cinema screenings, theatre and dance the arena also hosts a number of gigs including its One Beat Weekender Festival which showcases the best of the region's new music and unsigned acts. 

Cannon Hill Park, B12 9QH

8. The Flapper

flikr/Nic Redhead

A hidden gem of the independent music scene, this canal side pub has been putting on top gigs since the '90s, hosting bands including At The Drive-In, Pulled Apart By Horses and Dinosaur Pile-Up.

Upstairs is a friendly pub complete with a beer garden which overlooks the canal, while downstairs is an intimate and lively gig venue. In the summer, the pub also hosts an annual weekend music festival, ‘Off the Cuff’, where you can catch local and touring artists at a bargain price. 

Kingston Row, Cambrian Wharf, B1 2NU

9. The Rainbow Venues


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While the Rainbow Venues – a collection of 11 industrial spaces in the heart of Digbeth, – are best known for their legendary club nights, the Warehouse and the Courtyard also host some excellent live gigs.

Both venues allow audiences to get right up close to the stage so expect to get sweaty if you make your way to the front. The Courtyard is particularly intimate with a capacity of just 250.

160 Digbeth, B12 0LD

Want to find out more about Birmingham's musical heritage? Check out Seven Birmingham venues where music history was made.

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