Whilst our city might be in the midst of a struggling live entertainment and music scene, we can’t forget that we’ve also got some pretty cool venues around town that are sticking their chins out and are continuing to support live music in a time that’s pretty difficult for venue owners and musicians alike. Sure, some areas of Sydney may be quieter than what they once were five years ago, but what’s imperative now is that as a community we continue to support our live entertainment venues to promote a fun, cultural city whilst also supporting the artists and musicians who make up our vibrant scene. Here are our top picks on the unique live music venues around Sydney that are definitely worth the visit.
Now an iconic part of Sydney’s rock and roll scene and quite the establishment for late night drinks, early morning pizza and an arcade of pinball machines, Frankie’s Pizza By The Slice is home to a daily lineup of live entertainment. The venue has shared its stage alongside some pretty huge names… oh, you know, just Green Day, Kiss, Queens of the Stone Age… no biggie. Apart from pumping out their obviously delicious pizza (which if you haven’t tried, you definitely must), the team at Frankie’s go above and beyond when supplying tasty craft beers, or my personal favourite, freshly juiced apple paired with vodka. The joint is open every single day from 4pm through 3am, always a promising place to visit when you’re stuck on where to head around the CBD area. And with every single day offering live music, be it in the form of a band, DJ or karaoke, you’re sure to find a mixed crowd packed downstairs, ranging from the after-work suits to the hardcore rockers, to tourists and locals alike. Frankie’s Pizza has created a culture which is hard to ignore, it’s one which celebrates live music and entertainment, and acknowledges the vital need for a pumping venue in the heart of Sydney which is open for all to enjoy at all hours of the day (or night).
The Soda Factory
Tucked away behind a friendly hotdog vendor facade, if you want to visit The Soda Factory, you literally need to open an old school soda machine door to enter the venue. It’s kind of like stepping through a time hole and transporting yourself into a dimly lit bar in the 50s packed with Americana decor and lively people. Open six days a week til the early hours of the morning, The Soda Factory has become a favourite for Sydneysiders and pub crawlers since 2013. Live music is a priority at this place, with DJs and bands taking to the stage for five nights. Ranging from jazz bands to cover bands and everything in between, industry names like English rockers Foals and hip-hop legend Grandmaster Flash have all swung by to play some tunes to the dedicated and enthusiastic Sydney audience. Apart from offering a diner themed menu, with of course, hot dogs, burgers and everything possible fried, The Soda Factory offers a huge range of exciting cocktails, beers, spirits and wines. Not just limited to live music, the venue also hosts a Monday Movie night, showcasing newbies and some classics for free, or if you’re feeling extra special, you can make a booking for the ultimate date night which entails front row seats, unlimited popcorn, tasty eats, cocktails and scoop of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. If that doesn’t have you sold, I don’t know what else it will take to convince you to visit the ever-bustling and pumped up venue that is The Soda Factory.
Nestled in the pumping heart of inner-west suburb Marrickville, Lazybones Lounge offers a seven day a week selection of fine music, good drinks and great food. Detailed with a stylish interior, complete with velvet draping, vintage couches and a hint of cultural ceiling art, this venue has fast become a staple visit for locals and music lovers. Most week nights will see a jazz band take to the stage for free, with bigger shows filling the weekend slots for a small cover charge which goes straight back into supporting our live music scene. A surprisingly refreshing visit will have you find the place doesn’t have a single TV or pokie machine, the guys here built a venue genuinely for the purpose of serving music to the people and providing an environment where socialising amongst one another is key, all kids welcome, too. Owner Craig has put some of his own twists on the menu, offering stews and curries inspired from his native home of South Africa. Other staple items on the list will see you chow down on a hotdog with your choosing of gourmet sausage, vegan bites, pizzas and cheeseboards. So if you’re up to get down to the quick beats of local talent, sip on some craft beer and intermingle with the dynamic crowd of Marrickvillians, Lazybones Lounge is the place just for you.
Sydney’s Red Rattler is a community-led venue and performance space which sees everything from live music to burlesque shows enter its doors. Run by unpaid artists and activists, the Red Rattler is a creative playground for performers, musicians, artists, designers, multi-media makers, experimentalists, film-makers, theorists, activists, collective organisers, and local punters. Fitted with a stage, licensed bar and two non-residential artist studios, the space is always buzzing with an eclectic crowd with a passion for the arts. As a big supporter of the LGBTQI+ community, you can expect to see experimental performances from Australia’s best up and coming queer artists in an inclusive space which celebrates diversity. Themed with plush red velvet curtains, mismatched second-hand couches and paired with an intimate, friendly atmosphere, any night at the Red Rattler is guaranteed to be one of fun. Although not 100% community owned, the space is on track to buy out the last two original venue owners by 2019, making the Red Rattler one of the only community owned, and collectively run spaces in Sydney, ensuring and promising a space for our communities and building common wealth and culture well into the future.
A cocktail bar, restaurant, live music venue and performance space all mushed into one, Cafe Lounge is a bohemian cave tucked away from the busy streets of Surry Hills. It’s a second home for the many visitors who flock to the place to celebrate life with friends around good food, drink, performance and music. Featuring live bands each Sunday, DJ sets each Friday and Saturday, and a vast array of comedy and performance shows each week night, Cafe Lounge honours a diverse range of performers and showcases our best, as well as upcoming talent to the people of Sydney. Paired with sociable and outgoing staff who know when to recommend a drink or two, the venue is also decked head to toe in quirky ornaments and design. From mini figurines to flags, fairy lights and random op-shop finds, you’ll be sure to find a table (or retro lounge) which suits your creative style. Menu-wise, the venue has put a strong focus on thinly crusted gourmet pizzas which can be washed down with a craft beer or speciality cocktail. Whether it’s a Monday night or early Friday morning, Cafe Lounge promises a place which supports our live talent in an environment that’s as unorthodox as its entertainment.