Small but mighty: 5 of Sydney’s best small music venues
We all know that Sydney isn’t short of space when it comes to live music venues. Indeed, it contains many of the nation’s largest sporting arenas. Likewise, the city is home to some truly iconic and beautiful musical spaces. Enmore Theater, City Recital Hall and Sydney’s Independent Theatre comprise a spectacular ensemble. Who could forget the Harbour City’s stunning, and world-renowned Opera House?
However, Sydney has, rather unfairly, developed a reputation as a city lacking in musical individuality. The reality might surprise some. Sydney’s independent music scene is bustling and growing. Driving this growth is a collection of small music venues, each of whom offer unique opportunities for artists and listeners to express and enjoy local music.
The history of the Hudson Ballroom is a fascinating one. It has flourished in various forms during its history. Formerly known as GoodGod small club and then as Plan B.
Nestled on Liverpool Street in Sydney’s CBD, Hudson Ballroom offers punters late nights, easy drinks and live music.
Under all three of its identities, the venue has always prided itself on staying at the forefront of musical fashion. It has a long record of hosting upcoming acts that have since gone on to Worldwide acclaim: Alt J, SBTRKT and Jamie XX have all played, while Jagwar Ma chose the location for his first ever live show.
The loyalty of those who frequent Hudson Ballroom, is perhaps, it’s biggest accolade. While the venue has certainly been on an eventful journey, it has become too much of a Sydney favourite for anyone involved to let it die.
Newsagency feels more like a student lounge than a typical music venue. You’ll find no conventional rows of perfectly spaced seats here. Instead, up to 100 people can be found perching on old sofas, school chairs and milk crates.
The absence of a bar is deliberate. Alison Avron, owner of the venue and herself a singer-songwriter was keen to impress on visitors that music should be centerstage
Instead of the normal boozy background chatter, when the performer starts the noise stops. An attentive audience commits their full attention to whoever is on stage. Among the crowd, a core of friends and family of the performer are joined by committed live music connoisseurs and a smattering of adventurous passers-by.
It’s clear that its atmosphere is what makes Newsagency really stand out, and it’s a fantastic place to discover up and coming or even debutant artists. At Newsagency, you are not just watching a performance but are very much a part of one.
LazyBones Lounge –
Lazy Bones Lounge is probably the most eclectic and interesting venue in Sydney. This striking inner-west haunt comprises a downstairs whiskey bar and upstairs music venue.
Its interior, an abundance of velvet and chandeliers is truly something to behold. Wherever your eyes wander, they’ll set upon a piece from the collection of antiques and mannequins that litter the setting. To glimpse the most unusual decoration, you’ll have to look up. The ceiling is covered with an enormous, explicit mural.
Live music is the lifeblood of Lazy Bones, and you’ll find performances every night of the week. This weird and wonderful nightspot is quickly becoming somewhat of an iconic nightspot in Marrickville. It’s easy to see why.
When someone first recommended Frankie’s Pizza, I envisaged another boring chain-restaurant flogging poor-quality pizzas and overpriced fizzy drinks.
Quite the contrary, the venue has a phenomenal amount to offer.
Located on Hunter Street in the very heart of the CBD, Frankie’s Pizza is hidden away from the suits and bustle of Sydney’s surrounding office blocks.
Let’s start with drinks. Between 4.00pm – 6.00pm, Frankie’s hosts its happy hour. For 120 merry minutes, Drinks, including spirits are a dirt-cheap $3. That’s three gin and tonics for $9! Similarly, it serves its surprisingly tasty pizza by the slice.
Frankie’s has recently amplified it’s focus on live music. Every Monday, Thursday and Sunday, the bar comes alive with live music, predominately a mix of rock, blues and punk. Even in the absence of live music, Frankie’s still jumps with atmosphere and fun. DJ’s karaoke and other special events keep visitors entertained until 3.00am every night of the week (even Sunday).
The Basement Sydney –
Strictly speaking, the Basement might not qualify as a ‘small’ venue. If it’s full, you’ll be sharing your musical experience with 599 other people.
Nonetheless, we just couldn’t leave the oldest Licensed music venue in Sydney off our list. The history and charm of this underground venue are its defining characteristics. The Basement began life as a local favourite among Jazz and Blues fans. Today, a massive variation of acts grace the stage 6 nights a week.
Behind the dimly lit timber bar, signed music posters offer a physical history of past performers. Noisy, busy and informal, it’s retro, American style tables and chairs are removed so that venue-goers can dance the night away.