Once shrouded by the sprawling popularity of Melbourne and Sydney’s larger-than-life arts cultures, Brisbane is now taking centre stage in Australia’s live music scene.
An electrifying tapestry of talent, diversity, and pure passion that has captivated locals and visitors alike, live music in Brisbane is on the bleeding edge of music and the arts. From the underground indie scene to large-scale festivals, Brisbane offers a musical experience that is both captivating and unforgettable.
In this ultimate guide, we'll take you on a journey through Brisbane's pulsing live music scene. Catch a local gig at Lefty’s Music Hall or book tickets for some of the biggest music festivals in Brisbane. Tuck in; we’re lifting the lid on the tastiest live music Brisbane has to offer.
A Glimpse into Brisbane's Live Music History
Let’s turn back the clock for a moment. Brisbane was once thought to be in the shadow of big music cities like Melbourne and Sydney. In reality, Brisbane's musical history is steeped in a rich tapestry of moments and milestones that have shaped its live music scene into what it is today.
We know you’re itching to go and explore the live music Brisbane has to offer, but before you head off, indulge us in a little trip down musical memory lane.
The Birth of Punk
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Brisbane witnessed the birth of a punk movement that challenged the status quo and paved the way for alternative and independent music scenes. Bands like The Saints and The Go-Betweens emerged as trailblazers, influencing future generations of musicians.
Brisbane has been home to iconic venues that have become synonymous with its music culture. Historic locations like The Tivoli, which dates back to 1917, and The Zoo, founded in 1992, have played pivotal roles in showcasing both local and international talent.
Brisbane's love for music festivals has also shaped its live music scene. Renowned music festivals in Brisbane like Bigsound, Valley Fiesta, and Laneway Festival have provided platforms for artists to showcase their talents, while attracting music enthusiasts from all over the country. Don’t worry, we’re getting into these juicy festival details later in the blog.
An Independent Spirit
Brisbane's independent music scene has long been a breeding ground for creativity and experimentation. The city's supportive networks, including independent record labels, promoters, and radio stations, have nurtured emerging artists and fostered a thriving independent music community.
Get Louder at Brisbane’s Best Live Music Venues
When it comes to electrifying live music experiences, Brisbane knows how to deliver on a grand scale. Check out these larger-than-life iconic venues with 2023 lineups that will leave you craving more.
The Fortitude Music Hall
Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
A majestic venue known for hosting both local and international acts, The Fortitude Music Hall guarantees an unforgettable night filled with soul-stirring performances. Prepare to be awed by its grandeur and exceptional sound quality.
Dip your toe in the classic Brisbane music scene with bands, cabarets, galas, comedy and dance performances. Fortitude Music Hall even hosts a legendary live in concert series, the most recent of which was every millennial’s favourite Harry Potter.
Browse their upcoming shows and book your tickets here.
Costin St, Fortitude Valley
A historic theatre-turned-concert-venue, Brisbane’s most iconic institution The Tivoli showcases an eclectic mix of genres, catering to diverse musical tastes. Its ornate decor and intimate atmosphere create a truly magical setting for unforgettable live music experiences that have expanded tenfold since it opened its doors back in 1917.
From Aussie favourites Hockey Dad and Ruby Fields drumming up a killer collaboration show to the bring-the-house-down Queen: Bohemian Rhapsody tribute show, The Tivoli is serving up a banquet of must-see acts this year.
Check out the calendar and snag your tickets here.
Straton St, Newstead
Combining a laid-back atmosphere with top-notch acoustics, The Triffid has become a favourite among music enthusiasts. Catch renowned artists and emerging talents in this unique and vibrant space that never fails to deliver a memorable night.
The venue is a converted commercial hangar that fuses its World War II origins with a unique and vibrant beer garden to form a deliciously diverse space for the thriving Brisbane community.
Check out a scrumptious mix of big names and up-and-comer acts here.
Credit: Lefty’s Music Hall and Hallmark Hospitality
Discover Hidden Gems at Intimate Indie Shows
For those seeking a more intimate and up-close music experience, Brisbane's indie scene offers a treasure trove of hidden gems. Get ready to immerse yourself in the raw talent and artistic charm of these smaller venues and events.
Ann St, Fortitude Valley
A beloved institution in Brisbane's live music scene, The Zoo is renowned for supporting local artists and hosting intimate shows that pack a punch. Step into this legendary venue and let the energy of the crowd and the artists captivate you.
Discover The Zoo’s jam-packed calendar and grab your tickets here.
Lefty's Music Hall
Caxton St, Petrie Terrace
Step into the world of Lefty's, an utterly fabulous and totally unique music hall adorned with endless vintage charm and an explosion of atmospheric vibrancy. From blues and folk to rock and country, Lefty's serves up a diverse range of live performances that will keep your feet tapping all night long.
As well as their stellar musical lineups, Lefty’s boasts some of the best burgers in Brisbane. Chow down on The Smokehouse burger or dig into the Dirty South stack while you sink into the whirlwind of incredible live music in Brisbane’s renowned hall.
View the gig guide and book upcoming shows online here.
Eagle Ln, Brisbane City
Dive into the soulful sounds of Brooklyn Standard, a New York inspired basement bar that exudes coolness and hosts exceptional live music acts. Discover talented musicians and experience the underground vibe that makes this venue a must-visit for blues, funk and soul enthusiasts.
Brooklyn Standard hosts some of the best live acts in town six nights a week. Alongside a finger-licking menu and an unparalleled aesthetic, this is the place to be for a seriously good night out in Brisbane.
Check out the website for more information, or see who’s playing next on their Facebook page.
Cosy Corners and Local Favourites
When it comes to regular live music fixations, Brisbane has a lineup of venues that are worth bookmarking. Here are some must visit venues where you can catch live music on a regular basis:
Black Bear Lodge
Brunswick St, Fortitude Valley
Tucked into the heart of Fortitude Valley, this intimate venue is known and loved by locals for its eclectic lineup of live music acts spanning various genres. With its relaxed atmosphere and intimate setting, Black Bear Lodge offers a perfect space to discover emerging artists and enjoy memorable performances with a bunch of Brissy locals.
The Bearded Lady
Boundary St, West End
Step into The Bearded Lady, a lively and eccentric venue that showcases a mix of live music, comedy, and art. This beloved West End establishment is a hub for local talent and promises a unique and immersive experience.
Holden St, Woolloongabba
Located in the heart of Fortitude Valley, The Foundry is a hotspot for live music in Brisbane, hosting regular gigs and showcasing a diverse range of artists. With its industrial-chic aesthetic and exceptional sound system, The Foundry is a must-visit for music enthusiasts.
The Junk Bar
Waterworks Rd, Ashgrove
Tucked away in Ashgrove, The Junk Bar (aka Brisbane’s best kept secret) offers an intimate and charming space where you can enjoy live music performances while sipping on handcrafted cocktails. This hidden gem provides a cosy ambiance and a chance to discover talented musicians in an intimate setting.
Soak in the Festival Vibes
Brisbane's music festival scene is brimming with energy and excitement year-round. These music festivals in Brisbane are where you can truly feel the heartbeat of the city:
Open Season Music Series
When it’s open season for live music Brisbane wide, you gotta get in on the action. Open Season Music Series is a relatively new festival that takes over some of the city’s biggest and best music venues (yep, the ones we’ve talked about above) to deliver a sparkling lineup of world-class gigs and performances.
When: May-August 2023
Where: The Tivoli and The Princess Theatre
Celebrating emerging talents and the future of music, Bigsound is Australia's leading music festival and industry conference. Prepare to be blown away by the diversity of genres and the discovery of new sounds that will leave you mesmerised.
When: 5th-7th September 2023
Where: Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Held annually in the vibrant Fortitude Valley, Valley Fiesta is a free music festival that transforms the streets into a vibrant celebration of local talent. Immerse yourself in the pulsating atmosphere as you explore multiple stages and soak in the electrifying performances.
When: November – dates TBC for 2023
Where: Fortitude Valley, Brisbane
Did we save the best till last? Laneway Festival is definitely the biggest spectacle of the musical festivals Brisbane has to offer. This year’s epic lineup saw world renowned acts like Haim, Joji, Phoebe Bridgers, Finneas and The Jungle Giants grace the humble stages of the Brisbane Showgrounds.
Laneway is unfortunately over for 2023, but you can bet it will be back bigger and better than ever in 2024. We recommend doing the old early bird – book your tickets soon and find a great place to stay while you’re at it. (Hint: scroll to the end of this blog).
When: Early 2024 (dates TBC)
Where: Brisbane Showgrounds
Stay in the Heart of Brisbane’s Live Music Scene
Did you notice something that all these best live music Brisbane venues had in common? Yes, exactly right; every single one is centrally located from Rambla @ Perry House.
Stay in our fresh new serviced apartments in the buzzing hub of Bowen Hills and enjoy quick and easy access to these iconic live music institutions. Book ahead for Bigsound 2023 in September, chase up your favourite Aussie artists on their Brisbane tours, or leave it up to chance and simply pop into Black Bear Lodge while you’re here to catch a local gig.
Whatever you’re in the musical mood for, Brisbane has you covered with some of the best live music acts and experiences in the country.
Book your stay at Rambla @ Perry House and get ready to taste the sweet notes of Brisbane City.