Top 10 music venues, festivals & concerts in Melbourne

Melbournians take their music very seriously. The local music festivals are world famous and there are thousands of live music performances across the city every week.

Down the famous laneways of Melbourne, you'll stumble across bars that bleed music, pumping rock and other genres into the city night. Busking performers serenade passers-by, while jazz riffs float idly down alleyways and seep into restaurants. Band posters, accrued over decades, hang heavily on walls and advertise the long history of a city that lives and breathes live music. Melbourne is the destination of choice for the toe tapper, the melody hummer and the air-guitar strummer.

1. Catch one of 3000+ live music gigs

On any given night across Melbourne, there's a superabundance of incredible live gigs to choose from. You'll find local and international artists at pubs, clubs, stadiums, theatres and street corners. You can even attend a Tram Session, where live acts play on a moving tram! Legendary places include the 'Old Bar' in Fitzroy, the Ding Dong Lounge, Northcote Social Club, Evelyn Hotel, Prince Bandroom, the Toff in Town and Howler.

 2. Visit the Australian Music Vault

The past, present and future of Australia music is displayed at the Victorian Arts Centre. In collaboration with the local music industry, The Music Vault is a permanent exhibition incorporating a variety of interactive and digital experiences, plus an ever-changing calendar of performances and events. From Kylie Minogue to Midnight Oil, head out to St Kilda to discover more!

3. Add to your vinyl collection 

Buy your favourite music on vinyl to take home as an audio souvenir. Melbourne has many unique record stores, including Basement Discs in the CBD, which has Friday lunchtime live music. Or try your luck at Record Paradise in Brunswick, where you’ll find more than 33,000 records to choose from. You can even get a beard trim while you consider the options.

4. Spend the night at an uber-cool jazz club

Is dinner and a show at a jazz club still cool? Absolutely. Melbourne has a huge diversity of jazz options across the city, from big band to fusion and house. When you're wandering the CBD lanes, keep an eye out for Paris Cat, Bennetts Lane Jazz Club and Juliet Melbourne. In Richmond, look for local and international acts at the stylish Dizzy's.

5. Immerse yourself in Melbourne Music Week

In November, Melbourne Music Week permeates every corner of the city. As well as the regular live music venues, you can find events at the Museum, Recital Centre, State Library and St Paul's Cathedral. It's a city-wide celebration of every music genre imaginable. There are also silent disco dance parties (music transmitted into headphones), street performers, loads of free gigs and a music market. 

6. Go to the original St Jerome's Laneway Festival

More than a decade of St. Jerome's Laneway Festival has seen it evolve into an  Aussie institution. It started as a few bands in a laneway, with neighbouring restaurants selling food from their back doors, but now it's pretty huge. In 2018 it attracted 30 local and international performers. Plan now for February 2019 to hear from new and revered original acts.

7. Visit Cherry Bar, one of the world's best rock bars

With a deeply-dark decor, well-priced drinks and edgy customers, Cherry Bar on AC/DC Lane is an iconic rock bar that launched the likes of Jet and Airbourne. It once declined Lady Gaga a set, due to an existing booking with a local band. Undeterred, she showed up anyway and danced the night away. Cherry is open every night until super-late.

8. See the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra at Hamer Hall

Hamer Hall is home to the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. A majestic building located in the arts precinct, it has tremendous acoustics that make it perfect for non-amplified music. The resident symphony orchestra performs a range of musical acts, ranging from Last Night of the Proms or classical Debussy and Brahms through to daytime programmes for children.

9. Experience acoustic perfection at the Melbourne Recital Centre

An innovative modern space, the Melbourne Recital Centre has been designed with acoustic perfection in mind. Located in the arts district, it hosts a range of musical acts and performances. Check out the calendar to see what’s on. There are always free performances, cultural shows, classical works and even guided behind-the-scenes tours.

10. Jazz up your life in early June

With 44,000 attendees, 129 events across the city and 500 local and international jazz artists, the Melbourne International Jazz Festival is a great reason to take a winter holiday in Melbourne. Performances range from intimate gatherings in bars to huge concert halls. Now in its 20th year, this festival appeals to old and young, from jazz experts to total beginners. Its annual programme is unpredictable, unrepeatable and unmissable.

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