The Ten Best Bars with Free Live Music

Party paupers, we've got you covered.
Marissa Ciampi
Published on October 12, 2015

The Ten Best Bars with Free Live Music

Party paupers, we've got you covered.

We can't get enough live music. That is, we can't get enough live music until the Blurs and Mark Ronsons of this world blow through town, take all our money and leave us penniless and devoid of boogie. Then we literally cannot get enough live music.

That's where these ten bars, venues and creative nooks come in. Don't have the wallet for a seven-day rotation of cover charges? These spots boast free (and great) live music, so you can catch a new act every day of the week if you so choose, all without breaking the bank.

  • 10

    The Soda Factory burst out of the gates with a commitment to live music in 2013, and it hasn’t slowed down since. Prior to Soda, owner Graham Cordery spent more than two years curating lineups at Ivy and has a wealth of electronic music knowledge. As well as sets Thursday through Sunday from acts channeling the era of milk bars and pin curls, the venue’s famous friends like Grandmaster Flash and DJ Jazzy Jeff are known to stop by on a semi-regular basis — and the price tag still never goes above free.

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  • 9
    Frankie's - CLOSED

    Frankie’s present live music Wednesday through to Sunday, with choices like powerhouse rock, “crazy ass rockabilly”, blues and hardcore rock ‘n’ roll. The bands are always fun, with the large dance floor put to good use. Getting hungry? Jump to the front for some of Sydney’s best pizza, or head to the hidden whiskey bar out back for some quiet sips in between dance-offs. Frankie’s also does live karaoke night every Tuesday, and while we might not class what you hear as “great music”, you’re sure to find some free fun at least.

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  • 8

    It would be remiss to talk about live music in Sydney without mentioning the Oxford Art Factory. This Darlinghurst venue hosts some of the most popular gigs in town each week — whether Aussie or international, small fries or big names. But if it’s free you’re looking for, OAF has that too, with their gallery gigs, which are either cheap or gratis. These run throughout the week, and have more of a coffee shop/slam poetry feel, with artist exhibitions running concurrently.

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  • 7

    Alison Avron’s ode to the Australian independent arts scene, the Newsagency is not a bar as such, but rather a 40-person BYO art space that is home to some stellar free gigs.  Specialising in acoustic and up-and-coming music, Alison also puts on a weekly songwriter’s night across the road at The Vic from 8pm. With free entry and $12 dinners, it’s your chance to see some of the best young talent Sydney has to offer while scarfing down a chicken parmi.

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  • 6
    Freda's - CLOSED

    This unassuming Chippendale bar is a dancer’s paradise. Of the many free nights, our pick is TGI Freda’s – on every Friday and “aimed at setting off fire in your loins and heat in your feet”. An indisputable funhouse, they rep both local and international acts, and it’s one of the few spots with prime-time free entry over the weekend.

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  • 5
    Newtown Social Club — CLOSED

    Their recent revamp has done great things for King Street’s now year-old music haunt. Monday’s Swerve Society punk night, with weekly free gigs from 8pm, goes down smoothly with the jug and dinner specials from 6pm. The nights include a three-band rotation of local acts changing weekly. With a dedicated band room and $15 Young Henrys jugs, this pub has become the live music venue it was promised to be.

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  • 4
    Goodgod Small Club -  CLOSED

    An iconic Sydney venue, Goodgod has a party atmosphere through and through. You’ll always find music blasting here, from dance and electronica to indie, soul and everything in between. Many of their “Danceteria” gigs are free or cheap before 10.30/11pm. If you’re rocking up just before lockout and can’t make it into this sweaty club, there are always DJs spinning in the front bar for free as well.

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  • 3
    Acoustic Ritual by Venue 505

    A timeless jazz club on Cleveland Street, 505 gets some of the best acts in Sydney. Since the owners believe everyone should have access to the great art of jazz, they have two free entry nights weekly – Monday’s Jazz Jam & Games Night combines two favourite pastimes — local talent and giant Jenga. Tuesday’s Old School Funk & Groove Night features the all-star house jam band with special guests in attendance.

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  • 2
    The Lord Raglan Hotel

    This brewpub has turned Aussie-American diner, craft beer bar, arcade and now live music venue. Lord Raglan has a free act on every Friday from 7pm, including local favourites like That Redhead. The music is more often than not loud and rowdy, and you can expect the crowd to match the band’s enthusiasm. The pinball machines, game tables and long list of local and international craft beers are just a few of the other draws here.

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  • 1
    The Little Guy

    This beloved Glebe bar is as committed to live music as it is to craft beer. The loveable bartenders are also champions of making the best things in life also the most affordable – delectable popcorn, half priced-whiskeys, and free music. You can catch free acts here three or four times a week, with Tuesday’s open mic night, Thursday’s blues and roots, and ‘Little Sundays’ local indie music. You may even be lucky enough to catch their ‘double whammy’ with a gig on Whiskey Wednesdays.

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