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The best music venues in Sydney

See live music on some of the city's most loved stages

People watching Bloc Party on stage
Photograph: Lars Roy Crowd at Bloc Party's gig at the Hordern Pavilion
By Time Out editors |
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Whether it's a big name international or a local indie band, Sydney's got a banging bunch of venues ready to house them. From intimate stages to blow-out arenas, here are the best spots for feeling the guttural punch of live sounds. We've collected the best music venues in Sydney for you to slap your wrist band on and mosh in.

If you're more interested in sitting down and tapping your fingers, have a look at Sydney's best live jazz clubs. Or, perhaps you're in the mood to party hard with a live DJ, have a peek at the best clubs in Sydney

The best music venues in Sydney

1
Solange Vivid
Photograph: Prudence Upton
Theatre

Sydney Opera House

icon-location-pin Sydney

The pearly shells of the Sydney Opera House are synonymous with Australia's image – an iconic and irreplaceable part of Sydney's skyline. Their Music at the House program welcomes a myriad genres from electronica to mod rock. Then, of course, there are plenty of opera and classical performances on every week.

2
Kaiser Chiefs playing on stage
Music

The Enmore Theatre

icon-location-pin Newtown

The Enmore has an old-world feel and offers a nice alternative to a trek into the city. There's seating, a mezzanine, parking... and its played host to some killer bands over the years – Modest Mouse to Wilco to Divinyls to Queens of the Stone Age – while providing sets from famous comedians too. When the show's over, spill onto Enmore Road for dinner and a drink.

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3
Oxford Art Factory
Bars

Oxford Art Factory

icon-location-pin Darlinghurst

OAF bridges the gap between hangout and venue with style. The two rooms host socialites and punters, divided by a drawing room and two bars. It's well decorated and interesting, and the lighting's great. The bill brings in obscure hip-hop acts and mainstream pop alike.

 
4
The Metro Theatre
Music

The Metro Theatre

icon-location-pin Sydney

This baby's got all bases covered. Good sound? Check. Decent amenities? Check. A bar from which you can see the stage? Check. Another bar? Check. Since the early '90s, the Metro has showcased a splashing of all-ages gigs while presenting a showbag of musical genres across every night of the week. Bravo!

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5
Hordern Pavilion
Music, Music venues

Hordern Pavilion

icon-location-pin Moore Park

The Hordern does the job when it comes to bigger audiences. Ample seating wraps around the huge standing area – it's just damn spacious. There are plenty of amenities, the sound suits big gigs and it's easy to get to. Catch a drink beforehand at the Fox and Lion. 

6
Allphones Arena
Music

Qudos Bank Arena

icon-location-pin Sydney Olympic Park

It may be a bit out of the way – so planning your journey there and back is essential – but the Qudos Bank Arena knows how to house a pop extravaganza. Formerly known as the Allphones Arena, this Olympic Park mega venue has played host to some of the biggest rock and pop stars Australia has seen.

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7
Inside at The Red Rattler
Music

The Red Rattler

icon-location-pin Marrickville

Run by a roster of passionate volunteers, the Red Rattler is a creative playground for performers, musicians and artists. Fitted with a full PA, stage, LED lighting rig, projector and screen, licensed bar, two non-residential artist studios, and a rooftop garden, it's a hidden industrial gem perfect for catching a punk show or experimental electronic acts.

8
The Factory Theatre
Music

The Factory Theatre

icon-location-pin Marrickville

With its not-so-flash carpets and RSL-like interior, the Factory is a blank canvas for all kinds of shows, from hot-ticket internationals to fairly big-name local bands. There is serious room to move around with a slightly tiered floor perfect for the vertically challenged. Beer selection is as basic as the décor but if you’re early you can always mix it up at the Vic on the Park around the corner.

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9
Roundhouse
Bars

Roundhouse

icon-location-pin Kensington

The Roundhouse is the University of NSW's student bar and live music venue. Non-students are still welcome though and you'll find international and local bands and acts, recent bookings have seen the Jungle Giants, Hockey Dad,and Triple J darlings Ocean Alley.

10
The facade of the Vanguard music venue
Photograph: Supplied
Music

The Vanguard

icon-location-pin Newtown

The trusty Vanguard is an intimate live music venue and restaurant that has long played host to the greats of Australian and international music. It has an almost vaudeville décor so that the venue sports a New Orleans-inspired look. The gig list swings wildly across the musical spectrum, so one night they could be playing host to long serving blues musos like Hat Fitz, followed by Afro groove and then a tribute show to the songs of Neil Finn. It's a real mixed bag. 

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11
International Convention Centre Sydney
Photograph: Brett Boardman
Things to do, Expos and conventions

International Convention Centre

icon-location-pin Darling Harbour

The ICC Sydney is one the of biggest entertainment centres in Sydney, housing large-scale conventions, exhibitions and ludicrously huge gigs. Your place for once-in-a-lifetime shows from Kylie Minogue, Elton John, and Bryan Ferry. It boasts 270-degree views of the harbour and its surrounds have recently welcomed some excellent food and drink options. 

12
City Recital Hall Angel Place 2017 interior photograph for Sydney Flash Mob Choir 2017 Feb 3 feat Richard Gill and choir photographer credit Simon Bernhardt
Photograph: Simon Bernhardt
Music, Classical and opera

City Recital Hall

icon-location-pin Sydney

With one millionth the visibility of its white-shelled cousin downtown on Bennelong Point, the City Recital Hall Angel Place has triumphed among concert-goers as one of the world's finest chamber music venues. Not only does it ring with the sounds of classical music but it also hosts some contemporary stars, creative cabarets and more from the expanded definition of live music.

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13
St Vincent performing at Carriageworks
Photograph: Anna Kucera
Art, Installation

Carriageworks

icon-location-pin Eveleigh

Worth visiting for the space alone, Carriageworks' cavernous, industrial interiors have a limitlessness very different from the plush cocoons of most theatres. The large bays house art exhibitions, and experimental theatre on the reg but memorable shows from St Vincent, Neneh Cherry, and Grace Jones have cemented Carriageworks as an exceptional live music venue also. Don't wait for the international crowd-pullers though, catch a Klub Koori or one of the Mardi Gras shows to see for yourself. 

14
Manning Bar
Bars

Manning Bar

icon-location-pin Camperdown

There are still loads of tours coming through this tried and tested University music venue, which is a blessed relief since Manning's sightlines are among Sydney's best – and having a balcony where one can enjoy an alfresco drink or a cigarette while still being able to hear and (kinda) see what's going on is a rare pleasure these days.

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15
The crowd at ANZ Stadium for Taylor Swift November 2018
Photograph: Supplied
Sport and fitness

ANZ Stadium

icon-location-pin Sydney Olympic Park

ANZ Stadium is the unmissable whopper arena at Sydney Olympic Park. With a seating capacity of 83,500, it hosts some of the biggest games of rugby union, rugby league, soccer, cricket and Australian football and most recently Taylor Swift! Head here for the mega, mega stars of pop and rock.

16
Couple kissing at Venue 505
Bars

Venue 505

icon-location-pin Surry Hills

If you ask a stranger, it’s a jazz bar. But ask even a semi-regular, and they’ll tell you Venue 505 is so much more than that. 505 has carved out its reputation as a refuge for independent music over several years and venues. Its current digs hold live shows six nights a week at least half of which are free entry, so you can spend that money on cocktails and chow down on their carb-heavy Italian menu to keep up your energy for the third set of the evening.

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17
State Theatre
Theatre

State Theatre

icon-location-pin Sydney

Sydney's State Theatre is a monument to another age; with elements of Gothic, Italianate and Art Deco design, this theatre itself offers a spectacle to rival the on-stage action. The opulent platform has held all manner of big names and the performances are very much angled towards a crowd that enjoys consuming a concert while sitting down. Upcoming shows from Norah Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Petula Clark and "easy listening" heroes should give you an idea. 

18
The band stage at Lazybones
Photograph: Supplied
Music, Folk, country and blues

Lazybones Lounge

icon-location-pin Marrickville

Featuring live music seven nights a week and across two floors, this Marrickville venue hosts all genres of music and whilst it’s not always jazz, there’s regulars such as Sonic Mayhem Orchestra and renowned virtuoso of the electric bass, Steve Hunter. The rooms have a plush, quirky feel to them, the vibe is welcoming and cosy and there’s an eclectic grown-up vibe. Expect to pay a modest cover charge.

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19
Max Watt's
Music, Pop

Max Watt's

icon-location-pin Moore Park

This live music venue located inside the Entertainment Quarter at Moore Park has gone through a few changes. It was originally known as the Forum before being renovated and renamed the Hi-Fi. Now it's known as Max Watt's – a play on the term "maximum wattage". It hosts a multitude of concerts (sorry, kids – they're all 18 and over) ranging from all-ages rock gigs through to blow-out EDM ragers.

20
The Big Top
Bars

The Big Top

icon-location-pin Milsons Point

The Big Top is a multi-purpose entertainment venue within Luna Park. There are two foyer bars and a main arena that holds nearly 3,000 people. Historically it has hosted everything from popstars through to nostalgia acts and major music festivals. The carousel of performers is exceptionally eclectic. 

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21
Courtyard Sessions at the Seymour Centre
Photograph: Supplied
Theatre

Seymour Centre

icon-location-pin Darlington

This theatre complex, owned by the University of Sydney, is home to a bunch of theatres that stage indie shows and musicals.  Besides touring shows, the Seymour is also a satellite venue for Sydney Fringe and Sydney Festival, and during the warmer months hosts alfresco gigs in their regular Courtyard Sessions.

22
107 Projects 2015 exterior daylight March 21 2015 photograph (c) Time Out Sydney photographer credit Kit Baker
Art, Installation

107 Projects

icon-location-pin Redfern

This community creative hub for the Redfern area houses a sound-proof performance space, a gallery, a cafe and bar, a workshop, and a permaculture garden on the roof. 107 Projects hosts sporadic live music nights that range from First Nations rock legends Coloured Stone to small fringe DIY shows. 

If you prefer sticky carpets and cheap beer

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