7 of the best live music venues in Brisbane
What does a former member of one Australia’s biggest rock acts do once the band calls it a day? Moves backstage to open his own live music venue in his hometown of course! Enter stage front-and-centre John ‘JC’ Collins – former bassist for Powderfinger – with his music venue The Triffid.
The former WWII aircraft hangar, located in the inner-city entertainment and dining precinct of Newstead, was slated for demolition until JC and his business partners saw something special in the dilapidated wartime relic. They restored the old building and converted it into a visionary live music space that hosts some of music’s hottest acts.
Seeing a gig at The Triffid is different to other live music experiences. Standing under the curved roof is like having a vaulted rainbow of lights above you, and you can’t help but wonder what those WWII airforce personnel would have made of the giant aircraft garage’s rebirth as a 21st century rock venue.
Everything about the modifications has been carefully considered to provide the best possible experience for both the audience and (thanks to JC’s former career on stage) the band – from the acoustics to the line of sight for an 800-capacity audience, and a stage generous enough to house big acts.
In keeping with Brisbane’s year-round mild climate, outside the industrial feel continues with a beer garden featuring bars and food counters set up in old shipping containers, an indoor café serving breakfast, lunch and coffee, and a graffitied brick wall that pays homage to some of the great Brisbane bands – from the Go-Betweens through to Fur, Custard, Regurgitator and of course, Powderfinger.
If you’re looking for something to do on a Sunday arvo, The Triffid’s Sunday Sessions (usually free) showcase mostly local live acts.
You can check out why JC is excited about Brisbane’s music scene and why he still calls the city home here:
You can really put yourself in the picture at The Triffid with this virtual reality video experience:
Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall, Petrie Terrace
Voted Australia’s best bar by Australian Gourmet Traveller in 2014, Lefty’s Old Time Music Hall is a lavish honky-tonk saloon bar located in the majestic old Baroona Labor Hall in Caxton Street.
Famous for its whiskey and apple juice concoctions, country music and American carny fare menu, there’s nothing quite like Lefty’s in Brisbane. Hidden within Lefty’s is a maritime-themed Mermaid Bar – find the door that leads you to this secret hangout.
Brooklyn Standard, Brisbane CBD
Venture underground to the Brooklyn Standard, a speakeasy-style live music venue and bar tucked away on Eagle Lane. The Brooklyn Standard showcases a variety of live music acts spanning the genres of funk, soul, blues and rockabilly six nights a week.
Sonny’s House of Blues, Brisbane CBD
Modelled on a classic LA dive bar, Sonny’s House of Blues offers live music in a mix of ‘80s rock and authentic reggae. Befitting its theme, Sonny’s serves up classic cocktails such as the Blue Lagoon, Long Island Iced Tea and frozen margaritas, which are great paired with the Mexican-inspired menu.
Heya Bar, Fortitude Valley
Inspired by the street markets of South-East Asia, Heya Bar is the Valley’s newest late-night establishment. An entertainment precinct within a venue, Heya Bar is grungy, cool and full of character with live music, pool tables, pinball machines, street kitchens, alleys and four hidden bars.
Brisbane Jazz Club, Kangaroo Point
This long-time favourite on the Brisbane music scene is located right on the river with stunning views of the city skyline from both inside the club and outside on the deck.
The Brisbane Jazz Club is a not-for-profit run by a fanatically dedicated volunteers, committed to bringing a variety of established, emerging, local and international entertainers to Brisbane.
City Sounds, Brisbane City
City Sounds is Australia’s largest free live music program, presenting local and touring artists in the Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square, South Bank and other locations around Brisbane each week.
The genres are eclectic, depending on the venue, day and night – from alternative to folk, jazz, electro, and everything in between, City Sounds venues make the most of the awesome weather and are the perfect place to kick back, relax and enjoy free music. Check out the City Sounds program here.