It took me a while before I got around to writing about the Brisbane music scene for Australia and New Zealand magazine, but I got there in the end. In the seven years I’ve lived in this city, I have noticeably seen improvements in the bars in and around the city and in the bands that have come here to play.
This one appeared in their October edition last year and athough I gave it the working title “Brisbane’s Music Scene”, they called it…
Sydney, of course, is Australia’s most populous city with around 4.6 million and, as you can imagine, it has a buzzing nightlife to match. Melbourne isn’t far behind in second place; it also has more than 4 million residents and a renowned cultural vibe. Where Sydney might be Australia’s financial hub, Melbourne is certainly the centre for this country’s creative arts.
Then there’s Brisbane, third biggest city in all of Australia and for many years regarded as nothing more than a big country town with just about half the population of the other two. The first time I flew from Sydney to Brisbane, crossing an Australian time zone, I was treated to an announcement just before landing saying “Please remember to put your watches back by one hour and 15 years.”
It’s an old joke, very funny, suggesting that Sydney was far and away a more modern city and that there was so very little going on in Brisbane, that it wasn’t much livelier than the Outback. Maybe at some point in the past that was true, but what’s Brisbane like now?
What’s the entertainment like in and around the city?
How is the nightlife?
Let’s start with my favourite hobbies; listening to music and drinking beer.
Without a doubt, even in the relatively short period of time I’ve lived in Brisbane, the nightlife has improved substantially, especially the music scene. We have more bars to go to as well, thanks to recent changes in the licensing laws; it’s no longer necessary to have a commercial kitchen preparing food in order to secure an alcohol license.
As a result, craft beer bars and small music venues have sprouted up like mushrooms. Brisbane now has a buzzing West End, the lively Fortitude Valley and the busy Caxton Street in Paddington to name just three popular nightlife locations. Then there is the newly established Melbourne style laneway culture which has grown throughout the city as part of Brisbane City Council’s Vibrant Laneways and Hidden Spaces project.
But wasn’t I going to mention live music?
Brisbane’s top music bars
Yes, my favourite venue for live bands is easily the Beetle Bar in Roma Street…
For bigger bands we have The Zoo in the Valley and also The Hi-Fi in the West End where I was ecstatic to see Manchester band The Fall live during only their third Australian tour in their (almost) 40 years at the cutting edge of indie rock.
Then there’s Brisbane Powerhouse…
…another great venue, sitting on the bank of the Brisbane River in the beautiful location of New Farm Park. They have free music on Sunday afternoons featuring the best of Brisbane’s indie pop and rock bands and kids are welcome too.
So Brisbane, not so much the Outback after all. And when you consider that I live in an outer suburb, yet I can be in the city by bus within 40 minutes, you can see just how much this place has got going for it.