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Live Music Every Night: Melbourne
23rd February 2020
We have all been there. You’re excited to be in a new city or stay in a new part of town, and as you think about all the stuff you cannot wait to do, you realize that you arrive on a Monday and leave on Thursday, just missing the weekend events where everyone will be. You don’t even have to try to find something to do Friday through Sunday — it always seems to find you.
Well, worry not, because Melbourne is a music town. Its scene is known for diverse and plentiful venues, with local and touring bands who play out every night of the week. Let’s not pretend that every show at every venue, every night, will be the “best you’ve ever seen” because it will not be the case. That’s some realness. But the mere act of getting out and experiencing a truly bad show can still be more enjoyable than surfing trash T.V.
So instead of bumming in your digs that it’s the middle of the week and you think there’s nothing happening, take a moment and peruse the calendars of the following juke joints to see if there’s anything that piques your musical interest. And remember, these aren’t recommendations for best food or drinks; you should look for those recs elsewhere. Just music.
Monday: Music Night Mass at Northcote Social Club
Free music every Monday with a grab bag of local and underground acts. If you want to get a local taste of the band scene, head to the long-running showcase that has become a Melbourne institution. Come for the music, stay for the cheap beer and hipster watching.
Tuesday: Residency night at the Gasometer Hotel
The warm and welcoming pub with a well-curated music calendar, give the Gaso a leg up on other Tuesday night options. The philosophy is simple: create an environment that honors the diverse music scene and the people who exist in the ecosystem. Unlike other venues where food is a requirement to serve pints of lager, Gaso is an all-night option: get there early, grab a fireside velvet seat and smash a beer burger or a parma, before heading up to the mezzanine and catching a gig.
Wednesday: Thrash and dash at The Tote
A rock’n’roll haven since 1980, the Tote is the spot to catch local and touring bands sweating up the multistage venue. This whole article could be about this Aussie icon alone, but for the sake of diversity, let’s take your hump-day to the Tote. You never know who will be gracing the main stage any given night of the week, so we won’t pretend that Wednesday is the best night to go, but it’s a safe bet to take that you will not be disappointed by any decision to come here. Past players include the White Stripes, Fugazi, and Mudhoney, so yeah… it can get deadly.
Thursday: Intimate sets at the Toff
Every Thursday, you can head to the Toff and take in some indie talent in a swanky setting with cozy booths and a well-set stage. Stay past the live acts for the Midnight Express, a Toff tradition that drops the mic on some killer DJ sets starting at 10 pm and keeps going longer than you planned on staying out.
Friday: Edgy up-and-comers at the old Grace Darling Hotel
The old Collingwood standby, Grace Darling Hotel, is a sure thing on a Friday night. Chances of catching an album-release party from a local band are high. The low ceiling basement and loud system are perfectly tuned for a good time with a proper venue feel.
Saturday: New nostalgia at The Curtin
We’re into the weekend now, so there’s no shortage of bands playing out in every venue across town, which is why we think The Curtin is worth a look. It consistently rises to the top with a roster of young bands who often go on to bigger things. Think of it as a proving ground for ace talent set on a stage with golden streamers, giving it the look of a high school dance without the awkward feels.
Sunday: Go with the locals to The Workers Club
Nothing makes a concert better than a solid crowd — it may seem counterintuitive to think that standing shoulder to shoulder with strangers is a good thing, but in the case of live music, it is. The Workers Club is a favorite of local and eclectic artists, from surf-rock to electronic, for the very reason that people come to the Workers Club to see music. It’s a feedback loop where a good crowd makes good music better.
After a week of live music, you probably need a break. Or maybe you don’t. Feel free to mix it up and do it all over again. But for the rest of us who need a day or two to recharge, just remember how good room service feels when all you want to do is sit around and watch trash T.V.