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The Melbourne music venues we’ve been missing dearly over the past 30 years

Today we consider The Corner, The Forum, Northcote Social Club, The Croxton, The Tote, Bar Open, Howler and MEMO Music Hall as just some of the renowned venues driving Melbourne’s music heartbeat.

Yet the live music landscape has changed a lot over the years, in terms of volume, breadth and workforce. In 2015, a PhD was developed by Dr Sarah Taylor which explored the changing nature of live music in Melbourne and Sydney. It yielded a number of intriguing findings.

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It was found that the music bubble in Melbourne has become more concentrated: performances take place more centrally, with fewer shows in the suburbs. It used to be that fewer bands played more gigs, often playing more than one gig per night and traveling around the city to do so.

Nowadays there are more artists and as a result more performances. Many iconic live music venues have also closed over the years, while some have closed and reopened and others have survived the test of time.

To celebrate the live music institutions that have proven vital to Melbourne’s live music community over the past 30 years, we’ve put together a list of the most notable names. Did any of these refresh your memory?

The palace

The Palace Theater deserves its place at the top of the list and it is still devastating that this venue is no longer there today. It first opened in April 1912 and served a number of different purposes: a cinema, a theater for musicals, a nightclub and a live music venue that hosted the likes of Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, The Black Keys and George Clinton were hosted. during his term of office.

Despite strong resistance from Melbourne’s music community, the venue closed in 2014 after being purchased by a Chinese developer in late 2012. The ongoing outrage lasted until 2016 and an appeal was made to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), but unsuccessful. benefit. The internal demolition of the site started in February 2020.

The Rev

The Reverence Hotel has been the definition of iconic, serving Melbourne’s live music community since taking over the former Exchange Hotel in 2012. It welcomed some of the biggest names in punk rock and heavy music, such as Jeff Rosenstock, Foxing, Teenage Bottlerocket and AJJ.

Locally, the space was home to music talents such as The Smith Street Band (band drummer Matt Bodiam was the owner), Luca Brasi, Camp Cope, The Bennies and many more. The Rev officially closed its doors in March 2019.

The Punters Club

The Punters Club has been Fitzroy’s favorite live music venue for decades and was located where Bimbo is located today. It attracted talent of both international and local fame, while maintaining a gritty, accessible aesthetic that sometimes left punters sitting on the floor during performances. The location was influential in the launch of bands such as Spiderbait, Magic Dirt, Frente! and You Am I, but closed in February 2002.

The Brunswick Hotel

The Brunswick Hotel was located on the corner of Sydney Road and Weston Street in Brunswick and was a popular haven for live music from 2009 to 2019. The story surrounding the closure is devastating: the venue was initially closed in March 2018 after ‘some genius just got out of the car’ The school took it upon themselves to run over the fire hydrant in front of the venue, causing a flood of water flowed straight into our beloved pub.” Tragically, the location never reopened.


Section 8’s beloved sibling, Ferdydurke, provided a chilled out place to hang out in the CBD. The interior of the loft bar was inviting, covered in absurdist art and warmed by a fireplace, and the stage was filled with DJs and jam nights. When the nights were long, Ferdy was always there for a drink. Sadly it closed in April 2024, but luckily Section 8 is still active.

Ding Dong Lounge

Ding Dong was a popular CBD live music destination and stood tall for the better part of 15 years. It was also a fantastic spot for a late night boogie, with DJs spinning tunes late on both Friday and Saturday nights. During his tenure, Ding Dong welcomed the likes of The White Stripes, Leonard Cohen and Ed Sheeran to his bandroom. It would eventually close in January 2018.

The Continental Café

From 1993 to 2001, The Continental Cafe was a cornerstone of Melbourne’s live music scene, located on Greville Street in Prahran, just down the road from Greville Records. Affectionately known as ‘The Conti’, the venue proved itself to be quite the cultural chameleon, hosting live music performances from the likes of Paul Kelly, Archie Roach, Vika and Linda Bull and Deborah Conway, while also hosting comedy shows and exhibitions. .


Where Cherry Bar is now, before that there was Boney and before that Pony was a resident of the long-standing spot in Little Collins Street. Pony closed its doors in 2013 after catering to out-of-hours revelers for more than a decade. Things got messy here and people absolutely loved it, but rising rents forced the location to change hands.

Bendigo Hotel

Ah, the Bendi. This simple stick carpet welcomed the outside, alt kids, goths and metalheads. Many of the city’s greats got their start at the Bendi band hall. With a free swimming pool and a heritage-listed space, Bendigo will be sorely missed. It closed its doors in March 2024.

The Greyhound

The Greyhound Hotel was the hub of St. Kilda’s vibrant live music scene for a decade in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The Greyhound became the second home of beloved musician Fred Negro and helped him take his career to the next level, but after transitioning to a gay bar in 2007, it was demolished in 2017 to make way for high-rise apartments.


Located in the CBD, Shebeen was unlike any other venue in Melbourne: it was driven by charity, with 100 percent of the venue’s profits going to people in developing countries. It was then tragic to hear that Shebeen would close in 2016 due to noise complaints from their irritable neighbors, the Melbourne East Police Station.

The Empress

Today you know The Empress as a popular pub on Nicholson Street, but the venue has lived more than one life: it was once a boisterous live music venue, owned by Sandra Eunson. The Empress rose up in the 1980s and fought the incessant nagging of gentrification, which would continue until 2013. The venue once spent up to $40,000 on renovations to ensure it remained soundproof and curb persistent noise complaints.

The Art House

The Arthouse was legendary. From 1991 to 2011, the location enjoyed monumental status, which was determined by diversity and multiplicity. When we spoke to the venue’s owner, Mel Bodiam, around the time The Arthouse closed, she praised the venue’s inclusivity.

“I think the most important thing is that everyone has their own stories, and The Arthouse really belonged to everyone, no matter what scene or genre of music you liked,” Bodiam said.

The Arty could have hosted a metal night one night, a punk show the next, and a rockabilly gig on night three. That was the atmosphere at this popular location.

East Brunswick Club

The site where the East Brunswick Hotel stands today was the site of a predecessor that stood tall in Melbourne’s music scene in the early 2000s. The East Brunswick Club, as it was known, welcomed bands like The Temper Trap, The Drones and Jet to its space, but closed its doors in 2012 when venue owners Pete and Pam Benjamin retired.

Central Club Hotel

Richmond’s Central Club Hotel has captured the imagination of downtown live music lovers for years. This venue was the perfect place to catch a cheap gig in a small, intimate band room, but Central Club still attracted some big names including INXS, Men At Work and BB King.

Baby snakes

Baby Snakes, a party hotspot in Melbourne’s west, with DJs, cool artists and residencies. It was known for its natural wine and cocktail list and as a meeting place for cool Footscray kids. The location closed in December 2023 and was replaced by the beloved Mistfits.

Rob Roy Hotel

The Workers Club was once the Rob Roy Hotel before it became what it is today. This beloved Fitzroy venue became a hotspot for cheap gigs, welcoming the likes of Lou Barlow (ex-Dinosaur Jr.), respected Australian rockers Love of Diagrams and American singer-songwriter Richard Buckner under the guise of Rob Roy.

Duke of Windsor

What is now Lucky Coq used to be the south side’s beloved live music spot, Duke of Windsor. The venue was a crucial platform for rock’n’rollers Jet and held a special place in the hearts of music lovers across the city.

Social freedom

The Liberty Social was another popular live music hotspot downtown in the early 2000s. Before the venue closed in 2015, it hosted bands of both local and international fame, while also getting the party started with a host of DJs. Additionally, The Liberty Social was a dive bar that provided a platform for many late-night drinking sessions.

Special mentions (40 years+)

Crystal ballroom

St Kilda’s Crystal Ballroom, on Fitzroy Street, as part of the old Seaview Hotel, epitomized Melbourne’s punk scene in the late 70s and 80s. It was known for breaking new ground for Nick Cave’s The Birthday Party, as well as hosting Dead Can Dance and Crime and the City Solution. The national and international acts that played there speak about the significance of the location; Iggy Pop, INXS, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen and many more to mention. If you’re in the mood for some nostalgia, watch the classic film Dogs in space – it plays a major background role.

The ancient Greek theater

What started as The National Theater became known as Old Greek, and from the 1960s it became a hub of Melbourne’s burgeoning Greek community. However, things really took off in the 80s and started hosting legendary bands like TISM, the Saints, the Pogues, Cramps and the Cosmic Psychos.

Fancy some light reading again? Check out our piece on the 23 things we all did on a night out in Melbourne.

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