The Age Music Victoria Music Awards have yet again returned for the 2016 edition, with the awards being handed out as part of Melbourne Music Week on November 16th. This means that we’re going to see who takes home awards such as best song, best band, best artist, and best album for the year of 2016.

A notable inclusion this year, is that of the award for the best small venue, that is, the best venue with a capacity of under 500. Thanks to this, we’re no longer going to see your big name, large venues dominate the awards, instead, we can see some of the smaller, more intimate venues take home a trophy.

Recognising this, Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan said that “We took the rare step of adding a new category to recognise that small venues face different hurdles to larger ones and should be recognised for overcoming them.”

To celebrate the inclusion of this new category, we decided to take a look at some of the more intimate, often overlooked venues in Melbourne, proving you don’t need huge crowds to ensure an amazing venue.

The full list of 2016 The Age Music Victoria Music Awards nominees is now available via the official Age Music Victoria Awards website. By registering your vote you automatically go into the draw to win a special Awards prize pack!

The Curtin

Located just outside the CBD, The John Curtin Hotel is a favoured haunt for RMIT and Melbourne University students alike, as its situated right between the two. We know what you’re thinking: that’s a publican’s dream. But it’s also a live music fan’s dream. Not only is there a sick bandroom, but the front bar also regularly hosts unique and boundary-pushing gigs from local acts.


The Gasometer Hotel

There’s just something about getting to watch live music with the roof open, with an incredible PA, that just hits us right in the feels. We know we’re not alone in this, because lots of bands and punters consider ‘The Gaso’, as it’s affectionately known to Melburnians, to be something of a second home. Plus, their month-long residencies are the stuff of legend.


The Old Bar

Alright, so Fitzroy certainly has its share of venues. Indeed, Melbourne certainly has its share of venues. And many of the venues in Fitzroy are worthy of a place on this list (which is why there’s a few on here), but we have a real soft spot for The Old Bar. The place is just so… charming. Everything from the name, to the interior, to its lineup, to its promise of “Live music, drinks, unicorns.”


Yah Yah’s

This Fitzroy hotspot has experienced something of a renaissance in recent months. It’s become a favoured haunt for uni students on weekend benders from around the city and their one-of-a-kind 2am sets have seen them hosting the likes of Ecca Vandal, The Bennies, Polish Club, Jaala, and more, becoming a rite of passage for local bands and punters alike.



It’s rare that you see a new music venue come along and immediately entrench itself in the local scene. It’s especially remarkable because Howler set itself the ambitious task of opening up in Melbourne, which already has a well-established live music economy. It’s been able to achieve this feat thanks to inspired booking choices and a quality venue that people quickly grew to love.


The Tote

Whilst every venue on this list is important, few venues are as important to the fabric of Melbourne’s music culture as The Tote. Not only has it been a beloved haunt for local, interstate, and international bands for decades, but it was instrumental in the formation of the Save Live Australian Music protests and the scrapping of Victoria’s prohibitive, anti-music legislation.



For years, Pony was a much-loved late-night haunt. The place that everyone would just kind of end up at at some point in the night. It was even immortalised in The Bedroom Philosopher’s ‘Northcote (So Hungover)’. It’s now been given a new lease on life with Boney. It’s still got the same vibes and good times, but the bands are better.


The Toff

The Toff In Town has a reputation for providing good times for its punters as much as it does for bringing them face-to-face with their favourite acts. The number one thing that will strike you about this CBD space is the intimate atmosphere. With a sparse setup that mostly consists of a killer sound system, the focus is squarely on the artists and the music.


Ding Dong Lounge

Located close to the heart of Chinatown, the post-rennovations Ding Dong Lounge is as much a celebration of the music you know and love as it is a look towards where the local music scene is going. Go in on any given weekend and you can experience one of the venue’s famous indie nights or a set from the latest triple j buzz act.


Cherry Bar

The home of Melbourne rock and roll. Get on your tight black jeans, your boots, your Motley Crue tee, and your studded leather jacket and head on down to ACDC Lane in the heart of the CBD. Of course, it’s not just about the rock and roll (though it mostly is). Cherry’s soul nights are famous for being a good time and a celebration of everything soulful.


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