8 Dec 2021 By AWAY IN STYLE

A Music Lovers’ Guide to Sydney

There’s nothing like the thrill, buzz and energy of a live music gig, and Sydney has plenty of performance spaces that have played host to some of the world’s biggest acts as well as local up-and-comers. From intimate venues to big stages, from the city centre to the city fringe, here are five spots to get a fix of live entertainment.

Enmore Theatre, Enmore

The longest-running live music venue in New South Wales, the Enmore Theatre has been drawing crowds for over a century. Located in Sydney’s Inner West, it’s a venue with a capacity of just 1,600. The venue’s storied history and standing within the industry means legends across the generations – Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Oasis – have all performed on this stage. The strip of pubs, bars and restaurants comes alive when a gig at The Enmore is on – some pre-gig Enmore Road favourites to check out include Earl’s Juke JointCairo Takeaway and the Enmore Hotel.

Young Hearts Run Free – Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack (Vol 1), a Vivid Music 2018 event at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney.

The Lansdowne Hotel, Chippendale

The Lansdowne Hotel, in inner-city Chippendale, was the epicentre of Sydney’s rock, punk and indie music scene in the 1970s and 1980s. But after years of sticky-floored gigs with up-and-coming bands, the pub was set to be turned into a private performing arts school in 2015. In 2017, Jake Smyth and Kenny Graham (who operate Mary’s and The Unicorn Hotel) stepped in to restore the venue to its former glory without losing any of its grungy charm. You can now catch live music most nights in a state-of-the-art performance space on the second floor.

Exterior view of the Landsdowne Hotel, Chippendale.

Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst

Inspired by Andy Warhol’s famed Factory in New York, the Oxford Art Factory, in Darlinghurst on the fringe of the city centre, has been bringing music and art to Sydney for more than a decade. There are two small spaces that have hosted some of the biggest names in music – Lady Gaga played her first ever Australian show here in 2008 with the space barely a year old. This tiny venue allows performers to interact with the audience and as it’s on busy Oxford Street, there are plenty of spots for a drink beforehand including Bitter PhewBig Poppa’s and Shady Pines Saloon.

Patrons enjoying live music at the Oxford Art Factory, Darlinghurst.

Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park 

Originally built in the 1920s as extra space for the Sydney Royal Easter Show and an exhibition hall for the wonders of new technology, Hordern Pavilion became Sydney’s home of international rock concerts in the 1970s. The iconic venue next to sporting stadiums in inner-city Moore Park has hosted all the big names, including Eric Clapton, The Eagles, Queen, Billy Joel and AC/DC. In the 1990s, it introduced bands like Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Public Enemy and Green Day to audiences. It’s still the space for a stadium show in an intimate venue, where you can get up close and personal with your favourite acts.

The Metro Theatre, city centre 

Every true Sydney rock fan would have spent at least one sweaty night pressed against the barriers of the mosh pit at The Metro on Sydney’s central George Street. Since the 1990s, it’s been the place for high-energy gigs from the likes of The Prodigy and Foo Fighters, as well as respected indie acts including Jeff Buckley, Lorde and Aphex Twin. Smaller shows are also held in The Lair, a secondary space that holds just a few hundred people on the dance floor. A lot has changed with the installation of the light rail; the restaurants of Darling Quarter are only 10 minutes away, ideal for a meal before your concert.


A Music Lovers' Guide to Sydney