15 of the best live music venues in Sydney right now

Think Sydney’s live music and a bunch of place names will probably roll right in. Sure, they’re all great but sometimes, to discover a truly superior experience, you need to dig a little deeper.

This is where our list of the best live music venues in Sydney comes in. It has a lot of big hitters you’d probably expect, but there’s also more boutique offerings – ornate cellars, jazz cocktail bars, and nightclubs seemingly from the future are all on offer here. It’s diverse, vibrant and customized to ensure you get the most out of your night – just like Sydney itself.

Here are the best live music venues in Sydney right now.

Mary Underground

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Formerly known as The Basement, Mary’s Underground is tucked away in Reiby Place, just a minute’s walk from Circular Quay. Renamed Mary’s Underground in 2020, Mary’s Underground is part of the Mary’s Group, best known for the popular Mary’s Burger and the rock-and-roll vibe found throughout their Sydney venue. One burger joint is located directly above Mary’s Underground, which means you can grab one of the “world’s best damn burgers” before heading downstairs to catch killer tunes from some of Australia’s most exciting live action, or maybe you can take in style for a band. Indoor Jazz Mary’s Underground.

Enmore Theater

Anmore

With its Art Deco facade and retro interior, the Enmore Theater is a Sydney institution. It opened over a hundred years ago – originally as a theatrical picture theater – at a time when it hosted huge international shows like the only Bob Dylan. The theater has been classified by the National Trust and is located in the heart of vibrant Enmore Road, and the history of the theater also includes performances from The Ramones, Sonic Youth and The Rolling Stones. The floor of Sydney’s oldest and tallest live theater was repaired in early 2022 and still bears world-class names. Current upcoming shows include Arlo Parks, Aitch, and Jungle.

Lansdowne

Chippendale

The outcry that resulted when The Lansdowne appeared to be closing its doors permanently earlier this year showed just how important this live music bar is to Sydney residents. You may not get your family’s names, but Australian artists have released albums and shows here for years. Being a pub first and foremost, The Lansdowne is a small venue, so you can tap into the deep vibes that live music can provide. If lounging in beer and seeing the whites of the performers’ eyes is your thing, The Lansdowne is definitely the place for you.

Phoenix Central Park

Chippendale

Founded amid the onset of the global pandemic in 2020, Phoenix Hotel likes its art to be both confrontational and thought-provoking. The most eye-catching thing about Chippendale’s venue (aside from the fact that it was a martial arts studio), however, is its ticket system – if you want to see a show, you go into the ballot, and attendance is allotted randomly. What’s more, tickets for all shows are completely free, and with a capacity of only 120, you’re sure to get an intimate and unique show every time you’re lucky enough to be chosen to attend a show at The Phoenix.

metro theater

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Primarily associated with rock, former cinema turned gig venue, the Metro Theater is located on George Street between Town Hall and Central Stations. This means that it is located in one of the busiest areas of the city, with plenty of options for getting food before and after the show. Small enough to be intimate but big enough to attract the big names, The Metro gives you the opportunity to be close to the action or just watch it all come down from the upstairs balcony. Kings of rock like the Muse, Foo Fighters, and ZZ Top have all had their stage, but it’s also hosted acts like Salt-N-Pepa, The Prodigy, and Lorde in its ancient past.

Factory theater

Marrickville

A quick squeeze into the list of Factory Theater’s upcoming gigs on their website gives a good indication of the sheer range of music you can enjoy there. Reggae sessions, a weekend in Northern Soul, a variety show from The Office’s Creed Bratton, hip-hop music from rising star Biig Piig and metal from the incredibly eponymous Nicholas Cage Fighter are all on show at the Marrickville venue. There are food trucks downstairs, and a well-stocked bar close enough to the stage to mean you don’t risk missing a single second of the music if you decide to make a beer in the middle of the party.

oxford art factory

Darling Hearst

Oxford Street is known as the heart of Sydney’s LGBTQ+ social scene, and among its bars and clubs, you’ll find the Oxford Art Factory (OAF). Inspired by The Factory, Andy Warhol’s New York club in the 1960s, the spirit of the OAF never waned during Sydney’s lockdown years, and it still has over 5,000 music fans on a weekly basis. It has such a pulse on what’s going on in the pop world that the list of bands who played there reads like who’s who of 21st century music — think Lady Gaga (on her Australian debut), Courtney Barnett, Gang of the Young and King Jezzard and the Charming Lizards.

Lazy Bones Lounge

Marrickville

The Factory may be Marrickville’s most popular venue, but Lazy Bones Lounge, which also has its own kitchen with an ever-evolving menu, brings consistency, and promising live music seven days a week. Jazz and music from around the world are on Lazy Bones’ agenda, with jazz, improvisation, soul grooves, Afro-Uruguayan candombi, reggae, and funk. Their menu takes a look beyond Oz, too, with South African-inspired curries available for twenty dollars or less, which you can enjoy alongside local mini brews, a selection of wines, or a selection from the extensive cocktail menu.

vanguard

new town

Just a 10-minute walk from Newtown Station, The Vanguard is part live music venue and part burlesque bar. In its original version, The Vanguard hosted acts like Elvis Costello and Diesel before closing its doors in 2016. However, it reopened in 2019 under new ownership focused on community, contemporary music, and artistic expression. Inside, it’s a fine blend of neon and chic elegance with a well-stocked cocktail bar and a platform framed by velvet curtains. Vanguard’s menu includes pizza, snacks, and tacos – all the things you crave when you’re in for a night of high-quality live music.

Frankie

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You go to Frankie’s after you’ve already had a few drinks and want good pizza, good beer and a good time. Grungy Bar has a love affair with hard rock – their website says they host “notorious and little-known” artists – so it’s the perfect late-night spot if you want to be loud and in-your-face. Located on Hunter Street in CBD and open until 3.30am seven days a week, Frankie’s also has a trivia menu, DJ and hard rock karaoke. Do you think you’re the next Bon Scott or Dave Grohl? Frankie gives you the opportunity to live your dreams.

Label.

brookville

North Shores isn’t exactly where you’d normally expect to find a warehouse-style club pushing the envelopes, but LABEL. Not just a place. Everything about the space has been designed with immersion and acoustics in mind, from the 10m high ceiling in the master room to the state-of-the-art sound system to the stunning light shows, LABEL. It is an unforgettable experience. Pizzas are also available until 3am, cocktail bar and beer from nearby breweries. Can a mega club feel like an individually coordinated experience? Label. He thinks so, and shows the rest of Sydney how it’s done.

club 77

Darling Hearst

One of Sydney’s most beloved clubs, Club 77 is now leading the campaign to revitalize Sydney’s nightlife after the unpopular lockdown laws were relaxed. In the span of a quarter century, Club 77 has been a favorite of the goth and fetish communities as well as one of the hottest late-night tickets in town. It is now erected somewhere between a dive bar and a raving-back cave; It’s open until 4am every day of the week, and there’s a plethora of quality DJs on hand to spin tunes into the wee hours. When a place has happy hour from 2.30 to 3.30 a.m., you know it means business.

Sydney Coliseum Theatre

roti hill

Western Sydney often falls short when it comes to the performing arts, but West HQ is doing its part to change that reputation. It’s home to the Sydney Coliseum, a 2,000 seat theater on Rooty Hill that has seven bars and is easily accessible by road. It seems that only acts who understand show business The Coliseum – in addition to some of the game’s biggest tribute bands (think Bjorn Again), the venue has also hosted acts like Tina Arena, Keith Urban, and of course The Wiggles for the past three years.

Sydney Opera House

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It’s an obvious pick for this list, but there’s a reason the famous Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic buildings on the planet. Architect Jørn Utzon’s design is instantly recognizable, and people travel from far and wide just to get a glimpse of those white sails. Although its most famous event is the opera, unsurprisingly, plenty of beloved rock and pop musicians floated paintings in the building that “changed the image of an entire country,” in the words of American architect Frank Gehry. From popular concerts featuring household names like the Crowded House to Afro-futuristic explorations from emerging artists like Sampa the Great, a night at the Opera House – whose renovated concert hall will soon reopen – is always unforgettable.

transportation business

Evilly

Formerly a railway workshop, Carriageworks is now Australia’s largest contemporary multi-art venue, a place you can see in just about anything. Farmers markets, dance parties, and large-scale fairs are common here, but the real point of resistance is the chance to see the party in the cavernous main hall. Grab a meal in advance from one of the food carts parked outside the ticket office and soak up the relaxed atmosphere before heading inside to watch the show. Carriageworks’ dedication to all forms of art means that it is often artists on the fringes of the mainstream who play here – and recent years have seen performances by artists such as Björk, FKA twigs, St. Vincent.

Now, check out the best nightclubs in Sydney.

Image credit: Destination NSW, Rocket Weijers, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Phoenix Central Park, Dominique Berns-Blackwell, Destination NSW, Destination NSW, Frankie’s, Rocket Weijers, Club 77, Destination NSW, Destination NSW

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