Tote Hotel mosh pit
Photograph: Supplied

The best live music venues and pubs in Melbourne

Melbourne is truly blessed in the live music stakes. Here are our current favourites

Fred Siggins
Written by: Ashleigh Hastings
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This city's music scene is a core part of our identity, and live music pubs in Melbourne are the places where local artists get their time to shine. Help live music in Melbourne continue to flourish with a trip to one of these trusty pubs – let's face it, who doesn't like a beer with their favourite local band?

 If you're in the mind to further explore some pubs, maybe have a gander at our guide to Melbourne's best al fresco libation or our guide to our town's best pub grub.

Where to watch live music in Melbourne

  • Music
  • Collingwood

To call the Tote a legend is like calling the sky blue; it doesn't care what you think and everyone knows it anyway. That being said, it's important to take a step back and recognise the venues that have built this city and kept its rock heart pumping for a generation. The Tote sparked a full-scale community effort to save the venue last year, which succeeded at the last possible moment. Now the live music lives on according to the pub's motto: cheap and loud. That means a happy hour with $4 pots and plenty of free entry gig options. Read more.

 

  • Clubs
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Cherry Bar doesn’t need to be convinced of its status as a legend. This is a venue that refers to itself as “pretty much the best rock’n’roll bar in the world”; a venue that an infatuated Noel Gallagher once offered to buy; that turned away Lady Gaga’s request for an after party because a local band had already been booked. This rough-and-ready dive bar has shaped Melbourne’s live music culture, pushed for positive change in the music industry and pulled more pints for off-duty rock stars than we could drink in a lifetime. Read more.

 

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  • West Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4
The Drunken Poet
The Drunken Poet

As for all true Éireanns, music is the soul of the Drunken Poet, here six nights a week. Tradfitional Irish music sessions happen live and free every Friday night. The pub is decorated with portraits of poets long dead but not forgotten: may we never forget the best little Irish pub this side of Galway. Read more

  • Pubs
  • St Kilda

The Espy has undergone a $15 million re-do in recent years, but thankfully it's sticking to its live music roots. Between the famous Gershwin Room and the Espy Basement, you can expect an ecclectic mix of gigs to suit all tastes. Read more.

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  • Brunswick
Retreat Hotel
Retreat Hotel

 

This quirky old Brunswick pub is cherished for its music every Tuesday-Sunday. Kick back to chill beats in the sizeable beer garden, or head upstairs for regular gigs. Read more.

  • Pubs
  • West Melbourne
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Every city needs a proper, divey, rock’n’roll bar. A place where the music is cranking until the wee small hours and the floors are appropriately sticky. There should be a pool table and earplugs behind the bar, and if you’re really lucky they’ll be punching out some counter meals that will line your stomach before you smash some crafty brews. The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar gets high scores on all fronts. Read more

 

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  • Fitzroy

Open seven days a week and until 3am every night, the Old Bar is a bar and live music venue on Johnston St in Fitzroy that has been rock and rolling for more than two decades. Considered one of Melbourne's best live music venues, the dive bar hosts all sorts of gigs, with live music seven nights a week. Read more

  • Pubs
  • Richmond
The Corner Hotel
The Corner Hotel

At its heart, the Corner is a true blue rock venue. It’s also very much a crowd pleaser. On any given night, the Richmond icon is filled with footy fans glued to the TV screens, leather-clad rocker types, city workers who stumbled off the train station, and groupies of whatever band is playing in the bandroom later on, usually well-known acts and names that are just about to break. Read more.

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  • Collingwood
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

On any given night at this Collingwood bluestone stalwart, punters of all ages, genders and sexualities are sinking pints at happy hour or standing shoulder-to-shoulder watching gigs on the mezzanine level of the 350-person bandroom. In the warmer months, the bandroom’s huge moon roof pulls back, so that the sun streams in or, by night, party people dance under a canopy of stars. Read more.

  • Northcote
Northcote Social Club
Northcote Social Club

It’s a hipster pub. No getting around it. But however you feel about the ironic ugly sweater set, it’s hard to turn your nose up at Northcote’s live music hero. If you like your artists in their awkward/awesome early years, you can’t lose. Read more.

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  • Carlton
  • price 1 of 4

Any given night of the week, one Australia’s best up and coming rock, indie pop, punk or songwriter acts could be playing in the Curtin’s upstairs band room. Top it off with a pint of lager and you’ve got Melbourne pub gold. Read more.

  • Abbotsford
Yarra Hotel
Yarra Hotel

An old-world Abbotsford gem built way back in 1855, the Yarra Hotel has recently re-embraced live music after a years-long hiatus. Pop along on Jamboree Thursdays in the front bar to see local talent in the front bar. Better yet, entry is free.

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  • St Kilda
Prince Bandroom
Prince Bandroom

One of the most successful and interesting iterations of “pub” in town, the Prince provides one of the last spots in St Kilda for local, national and international acts to do their thing. In a part of town where most people would rather be clubbing, we’re glad the Prince is keeping it real. Read more.

More Melbourne pubs we love

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