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White Hex gig at the Curtin
Photograph: Phoebe Powell White Hex performing at the Curtin

Cheap Melbourne: Music and dancing

Australia's live music capital has lots of cheap (and free) gigs for the musically inclined but skint broke

By Time Out editors

As every cash-strapped music lover knows, there's only so long you can get by with cranking up the speakers at home and pretending you're at a gig. Instead, lace up your boots and head out to one of these pubs, clubs or bars where rocking out or dancing won't take a huge chunk out of your bank account.

Next time payday rolls around, see where you can see live music every night of the week or buy tickets to a show at one of the city's best live music pubs.

Cheap entertainment in Melbourne

1. The Esplanade Hotel

Bars Pubs St Kilda

Is there a southside pub that is as Melbourne, as rock'n'roll and as late-night rowdy (in the best possible way) than the Espy? After years of being closed, St Kilda's rock pub is back and holding onto its musical roots. The basement has live music every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and it's always local and free. Plenty of huge names (and up and comers) also play the Gershwin Room and other upstairs venues, and there are bargains to be had. 

The Night Cat
Photograph: Supplied

2. The Night Cat

Music Collingwood

This Fitzroy club had a change of ownership and no longer plays almost exclusively Latin jazz and live Cuban music (don't worry, they didn't get rid of it completely). These days the late-night venue is known for its regular Midnight Mass events where the Disco Faith Choir revive the dancefloor with a funky combination of gospel and techno music. General admission is $5 with lots of regular music nights only $10. 


3. The Toff in Town

Bars Melbourne

Entry is usually free every Thursday to Saturday at the Toff. Hear their resident DJs play sets late into the night – depending on who’s taking care of the decks you can expect dirty pop and hip hop classics to obscure ’70s disco. Check ahead to see who's playing, it's not unheard of to see artists as big as Tim Rogers on stage. 

4. Gasometer Hotel

Bars Collingwood

Upstairs at the Gaso is where you'll often find aspiring musicians launching their latest EP in what looks like someone's front room. But once a month the Gaso is home to Andrew McClelland's Finishing School where you can shake it to an eclectic mix of pop – everything from The Beatles to Lorde. Entry is $10. 

White Hex gig at the Curtin
Photograph: Phoebe Powell

5. The Curtin

Bars Carlton

If you want to feel like you’ve gone back in time to your high school formal, go to the Curtin on a Saturday night. The gold streamer curtains behind the stage always give performances a nostalgic feel, plus they consistently book ace young bands that often go on to bigger things. Tickets for gigs start at $10. 

6. The Old Bar

Bars Fitzroy

A bar and live music venue that has live music of all kinds every day of the week. Most gigs are free or reasonably priced, and you can say you saw superstars way back when.


7. The Corner Hotel

Bars Pubs Richmond its heart, the Corner is a true blue rock venue. It’s also very much a crowd pleaser. You can find well-known acts and names that are just about to break (Tame Impala played $30 gigs here). It's not always cheap, but check the website and you can find some absolute bargains. 

Transit Rooftop Bar
Photograph: Supplied

8. Transit Rooftop Bar

Bars Melbourne

Sitting on top of Taxi Kitchen and Transport Public Bar, Transit Rooftop Bar is the upper crust in the Transport hotel sandwich. They also do free live music five nights a week. Climb up to the top floor to hear pianists, rock bands, reggae and DJs from Wednesday to Sunday every week. The views are pretty killer, too. 

The Fyrefly
Photograph: Supplied

9. The Fyrefly

Music Music venues St Kilda

The Fyrefly boasts super luxe old-school digs that take you back to the golden ages of live music. Everything from jazz to R'n'B graces the stage here and you can even get dinner before the show. Shows at the Fyrefly do tend towards the more expensive end of cheap, but you can still score a show there for under $20. 

More thrifty thrills in Melbourne

Birrarung Marr
Photograph: Roberto Seba

Cheap things to do in Melbourne

Things to do

No money? No problem! We've pinched our pennies to bring you the ultimate guide on how to eat, drink and have a great time in Melbourne on a budget.


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