Live music is back: A running list of the Melbourne venues hosting gigs again

Live music is back: A running list of the Melbourne venues hosting gigs again

The Retreat Hotel
Words by Tom Parker

To help you get back out there and enjoy Melbourne’s glorious live music scene again.

The serotonin-ometer is currently operating at high levels as we return to the wild, pervading the social landscape like water buffaloes to a swamp after a long summer.

We’re all loving it but we’re also aware it can be turned up another notch. The volume dial is sitting at a 6.5 but we’re watching Die Hard and you just know you want that bad boy hitting 9 and 10 for maximum aural impact.

First, it was hospitality venues such as pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants who were given the green light to reopen. Retail was given an enthusiastic thumbs up around the same time. But as punters adorned their best collared shirt and jeans gearing up for the classic “Fuck, long time no see, how’s your COVID been?” monotony, bandrooms remained empty.

Even though at the time of writing, Victoria was at more than a month of zero new COVID-19 transmissions, it took the state government their sweet time to say yes to indoor live music. The wish has now been granted however and as we begin to experience the seated gig, the dream of a fully-fledged, uninhibited live show has no doubt entered our conscience.

To celebrate the brave live music venues presenting gigs before a reduced audience and most likely not returning a profit, we’ve put together a running list of the venues who are back in the game.

We have our fingers crossed that proper, un-socially distanced shows are just over the horizon.

Memo Music Hall

St Kilda’s beloved Memo Music Hall hasn’t stopped during COVID. Yep, while many other bandrooms were accruing fervent dust bunnies as they stood idle, Memo were throwing livestreamed gigs week after week. Now, they’re back in the live gig game with a super bill of shows from now and into the new year. Expect to see everyone from Bad Seeds co-founder Mick Harvey, Ron S. Peno & The Superstitions, Fanny Lumsden and many more.

Score yourself a spot at a Memo gig here

The Bendigo Hotel

We recently announced The Bendigo Hotel’s new monthly gig series, F#*k this, I’m going to The Bendi, which has seen the venue welcome back live music with gigs from the likes of Wolfpack, The Stripp, Jack Harlon & The Dead Crows, Mammon’s Throne and a bunch of others. The buck doesn’t stop there however as The Bendi have revealed plenty of other shows going forward.

These gigs are selling out fast. Find out more here.

The Retreat

The Retreat returned with live shows in mid-December when they host jangle-rockers Floodlights on Friday December 11. From there, they’ve hosted the likes of Bones and Jones, Hugo Race and The True Spirit, Charles Jenkins and will continue to host gig after gig after gig into the new year.

Sort yourself a spot via their Facebook page.

Stay Gold

Fantastic Sydney Road live music venue Stay Gold is back in the swing of live music with a bunch of sweet shows coming up. Their Make Emo Great Again party has been a fave as it celebrates the glorious punk and emo music of the early noughties, while they’ve also got shows from Wil Wagner, Jess Locke, Stuck Out, The Casanovas, to name a few.

Get amongst it here.

Ragtime Tavern

Preston’s Ragtime Tavern is one of Melbourne’s homeliest watering holes. Built around a baby grand, Ragtime provides a platform for both emerging and established pianists and other acoustic artists to perform. After some time off, the venue has fired things back up in the gig space, offering shows from now and into the new year.

For more on Ragtime Tavern, head to their website and Facebook page.  

The Night Cat

The Night Cat were quick to adapt when COVID-19 took hold. Early on, they started curating their own Friday night livestream parties and developed exclusive patron packages that are available via their website. Now as restrictions have eased, the venue has just announced a number of live gigs, featuring everyone from Vaudeville Smash to Nai Palm, Amaru Tribe and WVR BVBY.

Get involved here.


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170 Russell

170 Russell have launched back into things by welcoming Didirri for two solo sets on Friday December 18. That’s all they had announced at the time of writing but as we near 2021, there’s sure to be plenty more to come from the popular CBD live music venue.

Find out more here.

The Leadbeater Hotel

Richmond’s emerging live music haunt The Leadbeater Hotel only opened late last year but they’re certainly put their best foot forward with a bunch of gigs announced in December and into the new year. Whether you’re seeing the likes of Tamara & The Dreams, Cry Club, Cousin Tony’s Brand New Firebird or RAT!hammock, make sure you get down to The Leadbeater for a show.

Grab tix here.

The Corner

The Corner recommenced live shows with Corner Comedy featuring Geraldine Hickey, Dave Thornton and Nazeem Hussain on Tuesday November 24 before Kingswood officially cut the ribbon on the return of live music as part of their run of shows from Thursday November 27 to Tuesday December 1. From there, the venue has also already booked The Grogans, Black Cab, Samsurah, a Christmas show with Dan Warner and Al MacInnes, James Reyne, Carus Thompson, Alice Ivy and more.

Grab tix to a gig at The Corner via their website.


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Max Watt’s

Max Watt’s are back into the swing of things with some intimate shows. They kicked things off on Saturday December 5 with ’80s rock tribute gig Eighties of Sunset before they threw a ’90s party to raise money for Support Act on Friday December 11. They’ve got Wil Wagner performing two days before Christmas, and that’s just the start with plenty of shows booked for January and beyond.

That’s just the start. Check out all their shows here.

The Post Office Hotel

Sydney Road’s The Post Office Hotel is not only a stellar pub for a pint and a meal, it also doubles as a fantastic live music venue. As they slowly warm things up since the lockdown, The Post Office had hosted a few shows in their bandroom, with local soul aficionados the Moreland City Soul Revue just one of them.

Check out their gigs via the venue website

The Tote

Melbourne rock kingdom The Tote is back up and firing in the live music space. They kicked things off on Saturday November 28 when Thee Cha Cha Chas and Plastic Section performed from Barter Town – the venue’s pop-up gig space in the beer garden – and will be continuing the shows from Thursday-Saturday in the bandroom and outside on Saturdays.

Keep up to date with the gigs happening at The Tote via their website and Facebook page.


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Compass Pizza

Lygon Street’s Compass Pizza has been a favourite for Melbourne music lovers for a long time now and they’re back to hosting live shows after an extended period of time in hibernation due to COVID. Melbourne singer-songwriter DARCY kicked things off on Thursday November 19, before Timothy Wolf performed on Thursday November 26. As we head into the new year, it’s onwards and upwards for Compass.

Head to Compass’ Facebook page to keep up to date with their gigs.

Open Studio

Northcote’s Open Studio is blooming with live music again as it brings some of Melbourne’s brightest music talents to its space. It all kicked off on Fridays and Saturdays from the venue’s courtyard to begin with but on Thursday December 3, they welcomed Adam Rudegeair to perform inside on the piano. More inside shows are happening from now and into the new year.

Keep up to date with new announcements at the Open Studio Facebook page.

The Old Bar

The Oldie is back into the swing of things with a few gigs going down at the venue. Things kicked off on Sunday December 13 when they hosted Jackson Reid Briggs & The Heaters alongside Crash Material – in the venue’s first gig back since February – before then welcoming the likes of El Tee, Al Matcott, and a super bill on Sunday December 20 featuring Porpoise Spit and Hearts and Rockets. Trouble Peach and The Ricks (solo) will perform at The Oldie on Tuesday December 22 with more gigs to be announced into the new year.

Find out more at The Old Bar’s website or via their Facebook page.

The Curtin

The John Curtin Hotel is back in business on the live music front to the glee of all Melburnians. A bunch of Melbourne Music Week gigs kicked things off, including Banoffee and Blake Scott, with more MMW gigs coming in the new year, courtesy of CLAMM and CS + Kreme on Friday February 12 and Saturday February 13 respectively. Pretty much everything has sold out, but stay tuned as more gigs get announced.

Get around The Curtin here


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Small Time

Small Time is a chameleon of the Melbourne music space wearing the different capes of a music video platform, artist development program, production space and live music venue/pizza bar. Having livestreamed shows throughout the lockdown, Small Time is back with live gigs, featuring the likes of Lewis Coleman, Cantrips, AM Reruns and more since things have eased.

Keep up to date with Small Time via their FB page and website.

Paris Cat

Iconic Melbourne jazz cauldron Paris Cat is back in the live music game and they’re not mucking around – they’re already back to regular scheduling with up to four gigs going down each day from Thursdays to Sundays. There will be plenty more where that came from as we enter the new year.

Find out more here.

The Prince Bandroom

St Kilda’s beloved live music venue The Prince launched back into things with a bunch of tribute nights. They kicked off with INXSIVE on Friday December 4 – a homage to the iconic rock band – before Gold Chisel played all the classics from the legendary namesake band on Saturday December 12. There’s more shows booked into the new year, while more will be announced as we go along.

Head to The Prince website to score yourself a ticket.

The Workers Club

Fitzroy live music haunt The Workers Club is back to doing what they do best, announcing a bunch of gigs throughout December and January. And the tickets are selling like hot cakes. From a Steve Cousins and Matilda Pearl co-headline show to alt-rockers Brixton Alley and the pop-folk of Half The Andes, there’s something for everyone here.

Grab yourself a tick via The Workers Club website.


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Cherry Bar

The Cherry Bar owners stunned many of us when they recently announced the opening of their new venue The Hotel Westwood where the old Reverence Hotel used to stand. Amidst that, their premier venue recommenced live gigs when Immigrant Union played a few sets from Cherry Bar in late November. They also host Mick Harvey as part of Melbourne Music Week and there will be more where that comes from too so stay tuned.

Keep up to date with Cherry Bar live shows via their website and Facebook page

Wesley Anne

The iconic Wesley Anne is not only a revered abode for a tasty meal, they’ve got live music too and they’re firing up the amps for a bunch of COVID-safe gigs throughout December and into January. Wurli, Paige Black and Ade Ishs are some of the names you will have caught, while the likes of of Alister Turrill, Brett Franke, Team Love and more have shows booked into the new year.

Check out all the gigs going down at The Wes via their website.

The Thornbury Theatre

The Thornbury Theatre announced a handful of gigs to see out 2020, courtesy of Hayley Mary and Ali Barter, each playing two evening shows to launch their respective new singles. They’ll continue to add to their bill as things go along so stay tuned as more shows are announced.

Head to The Thornbury Theatre website to grab tickets. 

To keep up to date with all the gigs going down in Melbourne, head to our dedicated online gig guide which will be gradually updated as the local live music scene kicks back into gear.

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