Culture / Music

8 must-visit venues propping up Brisbane’s live music scene

brisbane live music venues

The Fortitude Valley is a special place, any Brisbane local will agree. It's rough around the edges, always up for a good time, and, crucially, a breeding ground for Australian musicians. While a punter looking for live music in Sydney might need to do a little digging, in Brisbane all one has to do is step into any venue on Brunswick Street to strike gold.

Home to festivals like BIGSOUND and where bands like Powderfinger and Regurgitator cut their teeth. In the mood for music? Below, find the best live music venues in Brisbane that you can always rely on to put on a show.


The Tivoli


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Arguably the crown jewel of The Valley's live music venues. The Tiv has lived many lives, rolling seamlessly from bakery to library storage facility to cabaret-inspired restaurant and theatre to the institution it is today. It's slightly outside the cluster of music joints near Chinatown, but it's our first choice for catching your favourite band – and probably theirs, too. These hallowed halls have welcomed the likes of PJ Harvey and Nick Cave, Bob Dylan and Pavement – even Taylor Swift has played here, which is hard to believe in today's climate given the venue holds a crowd of 1500 in its main hall. One more thing, make sure you check out the pink art deco bathrooms, which have maintained their design from The Tivoli's restaurant days.


The Triffid


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Recognisable by its curved ceiling, The Triffid was once a WWII US aircraft hangar before ex Powderfinger member, John Collins got his hands on it. Now, since opening its doors in 2014, the Teneriffe venue has become the bread and butter for those looking to catch a gig or locals keen to sink a beer. In the decade or so since its opening, everyone from King Princess, Warpaint, Eartheater, Courtney Barnett and Camp Cope have graced its stage.

The Zoo


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1992, a great year – not that I would know because I wasn't yet born. How could it not be though, given it was the year Joc Curran and C Smith opened The Zoo? In those early days, punters would have to eat a mandatory meal if they wanted a drink, and you'd be so close to the band you could smell their perfume. The Zoo has maintained its core mission of nurturing young and emerging talent since Australian legends like Powderfinger, Spiderbait, and Regurgitator performed in the 90s, and has hosted intimate gigs with Nick Cave, The Pixies, and Ben Harper. While the original operators no longer own The Zoo, it's still a female-run venue, which we think is pretty cool.


Black Bear Lodge


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Often overlooked for other heavyweights on the Brunswick Street strip, Black Bear Lodge is known to create an immediate intimacy between its guests given its cosy size. But this upstairs haunt can get loud and chaotic with the right person behind the mic, as it did when Kavi played the venue during BIGSOUND throwing out business cards and bootleg merch. So climb those stairs, there's only fun times ahead.


Fortitude Music Hall

As you can see Brisbane is laden with small-scale music venues, but for a while there it was missing a middleground – or at least, something under the capacity of Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Enter: Fortitude Music Hall. Sitting pride of place in Brunswick Street Mall, the Art Deco-adorned venue fits 3000 people and boasts five bars, mezzanine areas and a smaller space on top of the main auditorium. Phoebe Bridgers, Mac DeMarco, Liam Gallagher, Genesis Owusu and Cub Sport have all played here.


The Brightside

If music was a religion, this would be its church. Gone are the days of electronic-first acts at The Brightside, as regulars will know the venue switched gears in 2020, when it pledged its allegiance to rock in all its forms – indie, metal, punk, hardcore and alternative. Bunker down inside for your favourite acts or sit outside in the beer garden and listen lazily over a pint.


Valley Loft


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While most of the venues in The Valley shut at the beginning of the week, Valley Loft is open seven days with space for up to 400 punters. Put it down to the neon lights, dark outer booths, or whatever band is playing at the time, but things have a way of getting frenetic here. If each of Brisbane's venues were paired with one of those gauche Pinterest slogans, Valley Loft's would be "dancing like noone is watching".


The Princess Theatre

The Princess Theatre warrants a trip for its looks alone. This heritage-listed building with its intricate facade and brick-clad interiors is 135 years old, having first welcomed audiences in 1888. It opened as movie theatre, and over the years has shapeshifted from rag merchant, secondhand dealer, paper wholesaler, engineering firm, church, before finally being converted into a music venue in 2021.


Other venues of note: Superfly Studios, Blute's, Lefty's Music Hall, The Prince Consort, The Wickham, and Stranded Bar.

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Images: @theprincessbrisbane @thezoo.bne @thebrightsidebris