The power of live music to make folks feel good is on full display at a host of Sydney night clubs. If listening to bands and vocalists show off their skills is how you like to spend an evening, you'll find that Sydney does things right. Multiple options let you tap into the venues that 10Best readers favor, like Lansdowne Hotel, or you can get a taste of the city's offerings by visiting places like Orient Hotel, which is known for its Rock music. While many venues on the local music scene are clustered in the Central Business District area, know that terrific places to hear live music can be found throughout Sydney.
The Lansdowne is an iconic venue known for showcasing live music from all around Australia. It's frequented primarily by university students and people from the local arts and gay communities. Upstairs, there's a bistro serving reasonably priced pub food (meals from $6) including steaks, fish and chips and prawns. Throughout the week, you'll find events to suit all, with live music on Thursdays-Sundays. Catch one of the buses from George Street that goes up Parramatta Rd (there's one every 5 minutes). (2-9211-2325)
A super-trendy music venue hangout housed underground in the dark recesses of an alleged 1800s sewer pit. It's dark and red down there, with two bars, antique-style furniture and a VIP room with a black and white chequered floor featured in photo-shoots for the likes of Pink, and Australian band Powderfinger. The Aussie band Wolfmother had a couple of their very first gigs at Candy's in early 2004. Some staff believe that the ghost of Juanita Neilson, an heiress who was murdered in the area and whose body was never found, haunts the club... TRAIN to Kings Cross station. (2-9380-5600)
Coogee Bay Hotel
Situated right on the beach, this huge place has several components, including a live music venue and a nightclub called Selina's. Local celebrities and university students are constant patrons, but the most prominent clientele are backpackers passing through. With a host of hostels nearby, the Coogee Bay Hotel is a well-known, convenient destination. Live bands play most nights (mainstream rock is the music of choice), but you can also catch a game on TV, try your hand at pool, or just sit outside and drink. Everyone's eager to have a good time, and with so many options, it's not hard. To get there, hop the 377 or 315 bus to Arden Street. (2-9665-0000)
Comprised of four bars and a restaurant, this complex can accommodate most any need. Whether you want a bite to eat, a well-mixed drink, or to hear a local band, you'll feel welcomed and at ease. The historic sandstone building has beautiful architecture, high ceilings, and a spacious outdoor area marked by mature pines. A popular after work meeting place on weeknights; live acoustic music on Fridays; Thursdays attract a younger crowd with DJs. Weekends are closed unless there's a function. Even though the hotel can hold lots of people, you'll never feel stifled or uncomfortable. The hotel is located right across from the North Sydney Train Station. (2-9964-9477)
Recognized as the oldest pub in The Rocks area, the Orient has Old World charm and a convivial ambience. Three levels, including a nightclub, cater to all needs. Live bands and DJ's play regularly - check the website for details. The place is popular with tourists and singles and is always crowded after dark with flirtatious patrons looking to meet new people. Relaxed and easygoing, it's a hangout where you can wile the night away with music, friends, and drinks galore. Take the train, bus or ferry to Circular Quay. (2-9251-1255)
Saved from demolition, this circa-1893 bar was relocated from the Tattersalls building down the street in 1973 to become part of the Hilton Hotel. It features Italian, Belgian, and African marble, along with $1.6 million worth of art, Italian Renaissance décor, and the four original fire places. A young city crowd is entertained here, with local corporates mixing with music lovers. Live bands play Thursday-Saturdays with the music ranging from rock to retro to jazz and funk. Wednesdays is comedy night, with a main stand-up act & several supporting acts. One of the most loved watering holes in Sydney, worth a visit for the incredible detailing alone. To get there, take one of the buses along George Street, or take a train to Town Hall. (2-9266-2000)
For more than 25 years, this club has provided Sydney with the best artists music has to offer. Recognized as the country's number one jazz venue, it delivers a range of styles, including acoustic, folk, acid jazz, soul, funk, R&B, and blues. All ages come for the music, and you'll often see businessmen who hang out for happy hour and then to hear the night's band. The stage is surrounded by a restaurant area but beyond that it's standing room only. A large bar dominates the rest of the room. Bands play almost every night, so there's no excuse for not seeing Prince, Tim Rogers, Lloyd Cole, James Morrison, Renee Geyer, Vince Jones, Guy Sebastion, and others. Take the train, bus or ferry to Circular Quay; then it's a 3-minute walk to the club. (2-9251-2797)
Inspired by the vibrant haunts of New Orleans, The Vanguard is a friendly live jazz, blues, rock music and cabaret venue with a pre-show bar and opulent 20s-era surrounds. It's a favourite for Australian artists releasing their first CDs. A fully-licenced sit-down venue, tickets are with or without dinner. Appropriately situated in colourful, bohemian Newtown, the clientele leans towards mid-20s and up. The venue classifies as a restaurant so there's no smoking and minors (under 18) must accompany adults and be eating at a table. TRAIN to Newtown Station. (2-9557-7992, 2-9020-6959 tickets)
Oxford Art Factory
This multi-functional venue has re-shaped entertainment in Sydney. Inspired by Andy Warhol's Factory in New York during the 60's, the venue creates a cultural focal point for international and local artists, providing them with a world-class platform from which to showcase their talents. The Oxford Art Factory creates a comfortable local vibe perfect for locals to play at and for locals to enjoy a night out with live music.
The Oxford Art Factory aims to work as a three-tiered enterprise, comprised of 'The Gallery', 'The Live Art Space' and 'The Cube.' Every component of the Oxford Art Factory draws upon the experience of industry professionals to ensure that the atmosphere is top-notch. (9332 3711)
Gather here for a slice of genuine kitsch and shabby-retro grandeur, cool DJ music, funky crowds and cheap beers. What more could you ask for in a pub? Licensee Doris Goddard was a bona-fide Hollywood movie star back in the day, acting with the legends of the silver screen like Katherine Hepburn and singing in clubs around the globe. Now in her 70s, you may catch her singing one of her own songs or reciting some of her own poetry on one of the many nights showcasing local talent in a suitably ad-hoc fashion. WALK from Central Station, or Museum Station (10 Minutes). (2-9281-2765)