Adelaide may be a calm and tranquil city on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find an exciting, dynamic music scene that will have you dancing until the early hours of the morning.
Hosting some of the biggest international music acts and festivals in the world, Adelaide is Australia’s first (and only!) UNESCO City of Music, granted in recognition of its quality, diversity and commitment to music and creativity. As an international student living in Adelaide, not only is attending live performances a great experience, it’s a wonderful way to support the city’s local music and arts scene and an opportunity to meet like-minded people in the crowd.
If you’re looking for something fun to do in Adelaide this weekend, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to the city’s best music venues and festivals.
The best live music venues in Adelaide
Hindley St Music Hall
Driven by local live-music experts Five Four Entertainment, Hindley St Music Hall (HSMH) is the newest kid on the block and has already made a strong mark on Adelaide’s music scene. After a mega refurbishment, the venue opened its doors in September 2022 in the buzzing west end of the CBD. Thoughtfully designed to be accessible and inclusive to all, HSMH is set to host some of the biggest names in Australian music and beyond – so you’re in for a good night. Check out their upcoming gigs.
Playing host to a range of genres, Jive is always a popular spot for music lovers, particularly on weekends. For an unbeatable view of the stage, make sure to get a spot on the balcony and soak up the super-charged energy of the music and crowd below. If you didn’t already have enough reason to hit up this venue, you’ll also find some of the cheapest cocktails in the city. Head to Jive’s website for more information on upcoming concerts and parties.
Thebarton Theatre – known to locals as the ‘Thebby’ – is one of the most loved venues in Australia. With its charming character, world-renowned lighting and SA State Heritage significance, the venue has an atmosphere like no other. The 2,000-person room is used by young bands breaking into the entertainment industry as well as established bands that prefer the intimacy and raw energy that Thebarton Theatre provides. For an unforgettable night, check out any upcoming gig.
Lion Arts Factory
Lion Arts Factory is a beautiful multi-story, heritage-listed live music venue renowned for hosting world-class artists. Patrons can enjoy multiple bars, a rustic beer garden and performances spanning all genres. If you’re looking for a space to dance with your friends, head to one of the Lion Arts Factory’s iconic parties. From Disney-themed nights to artists on repeat to celebrations of indie rock, there’s something for everyone. Check out upcoming gigs and parties.
The Governor Hindmarsh
Fondly known as the Gov by locals, the Governor Hindmarsh has established itself as Adelaide’s leading live music venue and is highly regarded by musicians and music lovers alike. Between the international musicians frequently featured in the main room, this charming, laidback venue also regularly hosts free gigs midweek and is a great place to pop in for a beer. Head to their website for tickets to gigs.
Grace Emily Hotel
Inducted into the South Australian Music Hall of Fame in 2017, the Grace Emily Hotel is one of the oldest pubs in South Australia. One of the best live music bars in Adelaide, grab a local beer, pull up a chair and make yourself at home while enjoying a show in this intimate, eclectically-decorated setting. While plenty of well-known artists have performed on the small backroom stage, the Grace Emily is particularly famous for giving locals a go at its Monday night open mic, and is known for hosting live jazz in Adelaide.
Crown & Anchor Hotel
Crown & Anchor Hotel – affectionately nicknamed “The Cranker” – is another historic pub reclaimed by the music lovers of Adelaide. Here, you’ll find a range of patrons, but the main clientele are uni students who flock for cheap beers on tap and heavy live music. During the week, you’ll find DJs on the decks in the front bar, and on the weekends, live bands take the stage in the back bar. Check out The Cranker’s stacked upcoming lineup on their website.
A haven for punk, hardcore and metal enthusiasts, Enigma is a must for loud music. Gigs here can get sweaty but that’s all part of its charm. The venue is also home to an impressive collection of scrap metal art – some are available to purchase. If you’re in the mood for some serious head-banging, check out Enigma’s upcoming gigs here!
Not only is The University of Adelaide one of the world’s best universities, but it also plays host to amazing talent at the on-campus pub, UniBar. Showcasing local food and craft beers, UniBar is the best place on campus to relax with friends and soak up live music. It’s also open to the public, so everyone is welcome – you don’t have to be a student at the university. With seating that spills out into the Cloisters courtyard, UniBar is perfect for a dose of local talent. Check UniBar’s Facebook for upcoming gigs.
Music festivals in Adelaide
They don’t call South Australia the ‘Festival State’ for nothing. With so much to do in Adelaide throughout the year and events ranging from writer’s festivals to anime conventions, it can be hard to narrow down your options. But, for music enthusiasts, we’ve put together a calendar of some of Adelaide’s best music festivals to get you started.
A one-day event held in the heart of Adelaide, showcasing the best international and local acts from the interstate Falls Festival (held in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia).
For all electronic and hip-hop enthusiasts.
One of the world’s biggest arts festivals, Adelaide Fringe offers everything from circus and comedy to theatre and cabaret. Live music is an important part of the Fringe, and as an international student, you may be able to access discounted student tickets to some performances.
With humble beginnings in Melbourne almost 20 years ago, Laneway is a predominantly indie music event.
The two-week Adelaide Festival draws in some of the world’s most famous international acts.
WOMADelaide – World of Music Arts & Dance – is a celebration of world music.
The world’s biggest cabaret festival!
An offshoot of Byron Bay’s Splendour in the Grass, Spin Off brings an exciting selection of Splendour’s biggest headliners to Adelaide.
Bringing together world-class guitarists for two weeks of workshops, masterclasses, panels and performances.
A concentrated version of Australia’s biggest dance music festival, Listen Out.
A festival amongst the vineyards of McLaren Vale.
Take a road trip south for three days of traditional and contemporary folk, acoustic, Celtic, blues, Americana, roots, bluegrass and more.
One of the newest festivals in Adelaide, Harvest Rock is where music meets food. Spend the weekend in the mosh for iconic global acts, enjoying some of the country’s most decadent food and wine afterwards.
For all house, techno and disco fans.
Grab a picnic blanket and enjoy sipping wine to the soundtrack of some of Australia’s most well-known musicians.
Australia’s leading contemporary arts festival engaging with Asia, bringing in a number of exciting international acts.
A party at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre featuring quintessential hip-hop and R&B performers.
Australia’s biggest summer festival – a must-go for electronic music fans.
Adelaide’s famous for its wine, so it makes sense that there are so many festival options taking place in our iconic wine regions. Wine Machine is headlined by some of Australia’s biggest acts.
Bring in the new year with local DJs.
Adelaide gig guide
For a comprehensive look at what gigs are on tonight in Adelaide, AdelaideGigs.com is a great resource. South Australia’s What’s On In Adelaide calendar is a good option for large-scale events happening. Alternatively, follow the venues that you are interested in on social media – they will offer the best overview of upcoming shows at their space.
The Note Magazine is a fresh new publication covering all things music, gigs and “what’s good in Adelaide”. Check out their Instagram below to stay up to date on the city’s music scene.
View this post on Instagram