Western Australia’s capital city of Perth has come a long way from the forgettable one-horse town that it once was and has, over the years, transformed itself into a veritable hotbed of fine foods, arts, and culture. One area that has particularly excelled is the live music scene; for years international bands opted out of Perth when touring Australia, as it was too far and too expensive to travel to. This created a gap in the market that allowed local bands to develop and flourish alongside a loyal and devoted fan base.
Skip forward to 2017 and international and domestic flight costs are at an all time low, making it easier than ever to hop over to the once-neglected state and explore its many gems; from the South’s lush, Margaret River wine region, to the world heritage-protected Ningaloo Reef in Exmouth, all the way up to the far north’s waterfall-laden Kimberley region. In Perth, travelers will be met with a thriving food, art, and music scene that has a distinctly local feel and a palpable pride for its much-loved hometown.
Here are some of the best live music venues to catch an intimate local gig or a histrionic international concert in the world’s most-isolated capital city.
Catch a Live Act in a Former Women’s Mental Asylum Fremantle Arts Center oozes history, natural beauty, and charm. It’s a multi purpose arts organization that play host to craft markets, exhibitions, artist residencies and a variety of different creative courses, as well as live gigs and concerts. If you’ve come for the music then chances are it’ll be on the open-air South Lawn (3,400 capacity) next to the beautiful 19th century colonial gothic building whose original purpose was to house the criminally insane. Atmosphere? Oh, it’s got it for sure.
Address: 1 Finnerty St, Fremantle WA 6160, Australia
For Theatrical Ambiance, Head to the Art Deco-Inspired Astor Theater Built in the mid-1910s as a space for vaudevillian entertainment and lantern slide shows, The Astor Theater eventually morphed into the characterful multi-stage music venue that it is today. The main stage accommodates crowds of over 1,000, while the recent addition of the smaller, quarter-sized stage is used for smaller touring acts and local shows.
Address: 1 Chapel St & Dandenong Rd, Melbourne VIC 3182, Australia
Rock Out in North Fremantle at a Local Favorite Mojos in North Fremantle used to be a bit of an industrial no man’s land located between the uber-wealthy Cottesloe elites and the chilled-out hippie vibes of Fremantle Port. Nowadays, it’s a buzzing cosmopolitan strip complete with an Italian delicatessen, cafes, a wine bar, a burger joint, no less than three antique stores, the revitalized Swan Hotel and the beloved music venue, Mojos. Now Mojos has actually been around since the early ’70s (then called The Stoned Crow) and has been owned and managed by Phil Stevens (best known for managing John Butler, The Waifs, and San Cisco) since its inception. More recently, local music legend Andrew Ryan has jumped on board and curated his Cool Perth Nights program that ensures a reliable source of quality touring talents and much-loved local gigs.
Cut Your Teeth on Perth’s Music Scene with the City’s Youth in an Infamous Club You know a place is classy when it requires a thumbprint upon entry. If you grew up in Perth, chances are that the first place you tested out your coming-of-age ID was in either Capitol (to shake it off to Taylor Swift’s latest hits) or Amplifier Capitol (aren’t The Smiths just the best, though?). This conjoining megalith of a music venue has been playing host to big-name tours going on two decades now, and it’s almost solely responsible for the thriving local kebab industry.
Address: 383 Murray St, Perth WA 6000, Australia
Check Out World-Renowned Acoustics in an Admittedly Ugly Building If you get to see a gig in Perth’s newest stadium, Perth Arena, you’ll probably ask yourself, “What on earth were they thinking?” However, if you appreciate live performances, you’d understand that visual aesthetics isn’t the be all and end all, and realize that beauty can be experienced through all senses. If you need more convincing, then know that this thought-provoking building was also ranked number 4 in the “World’s Top 100 Arenas” by industry music mag, Pollstar.
Address: 700 Wellington St, Perth WA 6000, Australia
Enjoy Fresh Air, Vineyards and the Hottest Tickets In Town The monstrous (in size only) 4,500 capacity natural Belvoir Amphitheater has been voted as Australia’s best outdoor venue more times than one can count. If a big act comes to little ol’ Perth, you can almost guarantee that they’ve played The Belvoir. To name a few acts: Tame Impala (obvs), The National, Portishead, Massive Attack, MGMT, Pendulum, Sigur Rós, The Arctic Monkeys, Ben Harper, Mumford & Sons and the John Butler Trio. Wowzers!
Address: 1177 Great Northern Hwy, Upper Swan WA 6069, Australia
If You’re a Jazz Fan or Really Into the ’60s Sitcom Get Smart, You’ll Want to Spend a Night Here The Jazz Cellar is a venue whose enigmatic presence on the Perth music scene has been sparking imaginations since its inception. It’s open only one night a week (Fridays from 5:30 p.m.), it has a surprising BYOB policy and there’s an entrance so cheesily clandestine (you enter through a telephone booth) that it propelled the venue into almost immediate legendary-status. Bands come on at 7:30 p.m. and finish at 10:30 p.m., the tickets go on sale two weeks in advance and there aren’t that many available, so you gotta keep your wits about you if you wanna party with these jazz cats.
Address: 139 Buxton St, Mount Hawthorn WA 6016, Australia
If you enjoyed reading about Perth’s best live music venues and you’ve studiously marked them down in your BUCKiTDREAM diary, then you might also like A Rock ‘N’ Roll Guide to Los Angeles’ Most Iconic Music Venues, The 8 Best Live Music Bars in London and The Five Best Music Venues in Dublin. Groove on, ‘DREAMERs!