Put on your dancing shoes and check out Brisbane’s renowned live music scene.
From the early days of The Saints and the Go-Betweens, to the meteoric rise of Powderfinger and Regurgitator in the 1990s, to today’s homegrown heroes Violent Soho gracing the cover of Rolling Stone magazine — the Brisbane music scene has always raged strong.
Cheap rents in the early ’90s in the former ‘wasteland’ of Fortitude Valley sparked rehearsal spaces and venues throughout the area. The music scene flourished, buoyed by community radio station 4ZZZ, as well as attentive street press and the support of industry body QMusic.
This progress came under threat in the early 2000s when inhabitants of newly constructed residential buildings lodged noise complaints and threatened to destroy the very thing that drew them to the area.
But Brisbane’s music scene fought back. After consultation with residents, as well as music venues and businesses within Fortitude Valley, the area was zoned a special entertainment precinct in July 2006 — allowing the area to remain ‘loud and proud’.
Want to experience this magic for yourself? Get along to the following Brisbane music venues.
Brisbane concert venues
Nothing beats the enthralling production of a great concert in a spacious venue with a high-quality sound system and a like-minded crowd. Here are some of the best concert venues Brisbane has to offer.
1. The Zoo, Fortitude Valley
As one of the oldest and most beloved live music venues in Brisbane, The Zoo has become quite the cult venue.
Known for promoting up-and-coming bands and playing host to international favourites, such as The Pixies, Paul Kelly, and Silverchair (to name a few). There’s a bar inside, as well as pool tables if you fancy a game.
The Zoo is one of the oldest and most beloved live music venues in Brisbane.
2. The Tivoli, Fortitude Valley
Fortitude Valley’s gorgeous 1917 Art Deco venue The Tivoli is a major touring act destination and is considered to be one of Australia’s most beautiful performance venues.
This performance space offers a decadent program of local and international work and has previously played host to many Australian music heroes, such as Powderfinger and Missy Higgins, along with major international artists like Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift.
The Tivoli has hosted the likes of Taylor Swift and Bob Dylan.
3. Fortitude Music Hall, Fortitude Valley
As the largest ballroom and theatre-styled (art-deco) venue in Australia, Fortitude Music Hall is inspired by some of the world’s most loved live music venues, while still paying homage to the venues of Brisbane’s past. This concert venue features an array of genres from rock to dance to classical to metal and everything in between.
Fortitude Music Hall is the largest ballroom and theatre-styled (art-deco) venue in Australia. (Image: Claudia Ciapocha)
4. Riverstage, Brisbane City
Located in the City Botanic Gardens, Brisbane City Council’s Riverstage outdoor venue hosts many local, national, and international concerts and events each year.
From family and community shows to large-scale music concerts such as Ed Sheeran and Florence and the Machine, a night dancing here under the stars is one for your Brisbane bucket list.
Other concert venues in Brisbane to consider are Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Brisbane Powerhouse, The Princess Theatre, Crowbar (punk and hardcore metal), and Sirromet Winery for its Day on the Green events.
Riverstage is located in the City Botanic Gardens.
Bars and pubs with live music in Brisbane
For a late-night boogie with a cheeky beverage, here are some of the best Brisbane bars and pubs with live music.
5. Black Bear Lodge, Fortitude Valley
Looking for cosy couch vibes? Head to Black Bear Lodge for live music, whisky, beer, and cocktails. With timber floors, distressed brick walls, dim lighting, and a red velvet-curtained stage, this is a warm and welcoming live music venue.
6. Doo-Bop Bar, Brisbane City
Doo-Bop Bar is a multi-level live music venue in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD offering two spaces to get your live music fix.
The Basement Bar has blues, soul, funk and rock on Friday and Saturday nights, while the Piano Bar on the ground level has Brisbane’s only dedicated piano acts, five nights a week.
Doo-Bop Bar has two spaces to get your live music fix.
7. Greaser, Fortitude Valley
An edgy basement bar in The Prince Consort Hotel, it’s gritty, it’s grimey — its Greaser. If this live music bar were a car, it’d be a 1938 Chevy. With graffiti-covered exposed brick walls and southern fried chicken to devour, it’s an exciting melting pot for undiscovered indie bands.
Greaser is an edgy basement bar.
8. The Junk Bar, Ashgrove
One of Brisbane’s best-kept secrets, The Junk Bar is a hole-in-the-wall bar famous for its unique, intimate, eclectic vibe, offering excellent live tunes and tasty cocktails in a relaxing vintage setting. If there’s not a live act playing, you can sink into a couch and listen to their hand-picked vinyl soundtrack.
Other Brisbane bars and pubs with live music to consider are The End Bar, Ric’s Bar, The Brightside Brisbane, Brooklyn Standard (blues, funk, and soul), Suzie Wongs Good Time Bar, The Sound Garden, O’Skulligans (a rock n roll lounge bar with a hint of Irish), It’s Still a Secret, The Outpost, and Press Club.
The Junk Bar is a hole-in-the-wall bar famous for its unique, intimate, eclectic vibe.
Restaurants with live music
For dinner and show vibes, make a note of the following Brisbane restaurants offering live music.
9. The Triffid, Newstead
The Triffid is the brainchild of former Powderfinger bassist, John “JC” Collins. Once a WWII commercial hangar, it’s now a live music venue bringing the best of international, national, and local acts to Brisbane.
There’s also a beer garden where you can hang out day or night to catch a free gig and delicious food – including burgers, quesadillas and other pub fare classics.
The Triffid is one of the best live music venues in Brisbane. (Image: Will Wagner)
10. The Bearded Lady, West End
Fondly known as The Beardy, The Bearded Lady is an intimate small bar and live music venue for both emerging and established artists. The venue hosts concerts for a wide range of genres such as Cigány Weaver (folk-jazz) and 51st Avenue (electronic dance music).
The food menu is vegan and vegetarian friendly, including rice paper dumplings, nachos, and risotto.
The Bearded Lady has a vegan and vegetarian-friendly menu.
11. Brisbane Jazz Club, Kangaroo Point
Get up close and personal with Brisbane’s hottest live jazz bar – Brisbane Jazz Club. Soak up world-class music as you wine and dine in a legendary setting. With the Story Bridge lit up and piano fingers dancing across the keyboard, a night here is unforgettable.
12. Lefty’s Music Hall, Petrie Terrace
You’ll find old-timey Americana opulence on Caxton Street, thanks to Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall. What looks like a decadent saloon is home to the best local musical talent and American diner-style meals.
Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall looks like a decadent saloon.
Other Brisbane restaurants with live music to consider are Wooly Mammoth Mane Stage, Johnny Ringo’s (country rock), and Queensport Tavern.