Indeed, the discourse about Sydney’s live music scene in particular has been about as complicated as a lengthy, near-deafening bout of teeth gnashing; a litany of complaints that Sydney is about as musical as a fart in a tin bathtub.
Sydney is no cultural wasteland – its live music scene is going through something of a boom
But that’s all nonsense. Sydney is no cultural wasteland – rather, thanks to the work of some dedicated, committed musicians, promoters and venue owners, its live music scene is going through something of a boom. Sydney-based musicians as diverse as Julia Jacklin, Flowertruck, Georgia Mulligan and Georgia June are all experiencing the kind of success only the dogmatically downbeat can ignore, and the future of Sydney’s music scene is looking brighter than it maybe ever has before.
Of course, no musician is worth anything without an incredible venue to play in. So to that end, here are seven of our favourite Sydney venues, a handful of many great performance spaces here in our fair city that are responsible for nurturing a musical scene that is only getting stronger.
Oxford Art Factory
The Oxford Art Factory has always been an exciting, vibrant venue, but since the sad closure of the Newtown Social Club, it has only become more vital. Gigs that would otherwise have been held in the NSC are now being booked for the OAF, meaning the latter venue is now bursting at the seams with international and local acts.
Oh, and how could you not love a venue that has no barrier between the performer and their audience?
Once known mostly as the place 18-year-olds went to have their very first tequila shots, the World Bar has spent the last few years working on its reputation and gradually evolving into a one-of-a-kind performance space. Although the Bar fosters a lot of great local singer-songwriters, it’s not restricted to showing off the talents of any one genre, and everyone from folksmith Ainsley Farrell to this city’s hottest DJs have exhibited their talents in the close confines of the World Bar stage.
Frankie’s isn’t just a world class pizza joint – it is also the pre-eminent performance space for Sydney’s punk, garage, lo-fi and metal acts. Better still, it’s open late (as in, really late; so late old codgers like yours truly have never actually heard Frankie’s fabled last drinks call), so you can head there at the end of a long night for some tunes, some booze, and of course, some pizza.
Too often “intimate” is just used as a way of saying “very bloody small.” But Brighton Up Bar is intimate in the truest sense of the word.
Brighton Up Bar
Too often “intimate” is just used as a way of saying “very bloody small.” But Brighton Up Bar is intimate in the truest sense of the word – that is, it’s the kind of space that allows performers and audiences to really connect with one another, comfortably drawn together as they are in the well-lit, cozy space.
The Hudson Ballroom may have had as many name changes as you or I have had hot dinners, but that hasn’t changed the respectability or the value of the venue one iota. Sticking true to their club roots, Hudson Ballroom’s owners book both classic dance acts and hot up-and-comers, not to mention the occasional exciting international act.
God bless the Metro. Few venues are as malleable: one night you can head over and check out a plaintive, softly sung folk act, and another night you can find yourself moshing up the front to a band as driving and juddering as Shellac.
Over the years, Venue 505 has developed a reputation as a hangout for all of those with a taste for the finer things in life – punters who would prefer to hang out in a cosy, dark bar and listen to some gentle jazz strains than jump about the place while electro bangs. But don’t let that fool you into thinking Venue 505 is a glorified retirement home – it’s a vital, energised space that you’d do well to check out.
There have been too many moments in recent years when the return of a once-beloved staple has gone slightly sour – think the calamitous re-emergence of the Pixies, for example, or that whole pesky fascism thing that is making the rounds again in the States. But if there is one resurgence that hasn’t let us down, it’s the return of the Lansdowne, one of Sydney’s pre-eminent music venues.
Thanks in no small part to the incredible slew of musicians they’ve booked to take to the Lansdowne stage since opening their doors again, we couldn’t be happier that the performance space is back.
We’re working with the City Of Sydney to tell the stories of Sydney’s live music scene. For more information about venue grants available through the city, head here.
This story originally appeared on The Brag.