Published in Mojo Junction June 2014
Booking gigs in any town is often a mission, a struggle, a fight to even get heard or considered, and occasionally, a simple joy. Knowing the right venues to approach for you, your music and what you do can sometimes only work out if you have some insider local knowledge on an area.
Byron Bay is known as a party town, full of tourists, young and old, often over run with schoolies, sometimes CUBs (cashed up bogans) all looking for a swim and massage in the day and a good time at night. But don’t doubt it, there is, of course, a pretty lovely bunch of locals and a network of musicians lucky enough to be able to call this place home. Below is an quick overview of some of the venues in and around Byron, in hopes that you may book your live music act appropriately… and not find yourself getting heckled to play a song you wouldn’t perform for your audience if your butt was on fire.
I’m going to list them alphabetically. Cause that’s how I roll, and I don’t want to favour anywhere for any reason.
The Beach Hotel (The ‘Top Pub’) http://beachhotel.com.au/
Live music every night of the week by Australian and International bands, as well as the Open Mic night on Tuesday nights. The stage is big and the sound guy is lovely. This is a gig for bands that like to get the audience up and dancing.
The Brewery (aka: the Arts Factory, aka the Buddha Bar) Inside Stage and Beer Garden Stage http://www.byronbaybrewery.com.au/
The Inside Stage is usually for bands, or a line up of bands that know they can pull a crowd, so they close it off and hit up a door charge. So be sure to get your promo running and get a juicy line up to gather some adoring fans. The outside stage sits underneath a fantastic tree, with layers of balconies sprawling before you. Both stages appreciate an up vibe and a dancing crowd.
Byron’s Blues Bar – Upstairs on Bay Lane
This is a small venue, hidden away upstairs behind the Beach Hotel, above the Asian Restaurant. It’s decked out in some funky stuff and has a little stage set up for some Blues.
The Byron Community Centre http://www.byroncentre.com.au/
A very classy venue for some very classy gigs or big names; tiered seating, stunning lighting, acoustics, piano and ambience. Tickets are usually pretty exy, the venue declares itself as the one to play, and rightfully so, it’s beautiful.
The Byron Bay Golf Course (“The Deck”) http://www.byronbaygolfclub.com.au/
Laid back, classy, jazzy affairs with a rolling green background and salt spray in the air.
The Byron Entertainment Centre (The Home of Byron’s Circus Arts) http://www.byronentertainmentcentre.com.au/
Ok, so I’ve never played here, but I went to an Opera there once and it was totally fantastic. It’s a massive space that also features on the Byron Artist Trail, and sits happily in the Byron Arts and Industry Estate, which is worth a sticky beak no matter what you’re in to. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Byron-Arts-Industry-Estate/161375483962867
The Double Bassment Recording Studio and Art Gallery http://www.doublebassment.com/
With a secluded underground feeling, and a baby grand nestled in the corner, this place has a special place in my heart. Hire it out for your rehearsals or recording session or see what’s available for what you’re putting on.
Frankie Brown – Restaurant http://www.frankiebrown.com.au/
Live music five nights a week: this relaxed restaurant located beside the Main Beach, is owned by Pete Murray, and knows where its heart is: great live music and great food.
The Ginger Pig Bar and Restaurant http://gingerpigrestaurant.com.au/
Acoustic & unplugged live music some nights, and Dj’s on others, this restaurant has a long vista along Marvell Street, so you can entice passers by with your tunes.
The Great Northern – The Backroom & The Front Bar http://www.thenorthern.com.au/
The Backroom features a quite high, medium sized stage with a massive sound system, a haloed green room that’s seen a few bands in its day and a dance floor that screams “Dance”. The Front Bar has a small stage that I believe you must play a stomp box on… I think that’s in the contract somewhere.
Also in the Industry Estate, this little venue is a dance studio, art space, co op, and a place of voice, body and dance workshops and Cabaret. My eyes usually check out Kulchajam when scanning the gig guide first, just saying.
La Playa Tapas Bar https://www.facebook.com/LaPlayaTapasBarByron1
Live bands, piano bar, and The Blue Kat Club of Jazz and Blues on Wednesdays.
The Rails http://www.therailsbyronbay.com/
The Rails is just one of those places, your night out should start here, no matter how you look at it. Live music every night of the week (booked in chunks, way in advance, to the best of my knowledge). The Rails is just a well-known legend in these here parts. You can cut your teeth here or you can get the whole place dancing moves you’ve never seen before. Hot summer nights, or fiery winter jams. You should play at the Rails once in your life. They give you a chance, no matter who you are, if they like the sound of you.
The Treehouse – Belongil http://www.treehouseonbelongil.com/
Like a phoenix, rising from the ashes, The Treehouse on Belongil is back. You’ll find yourself sitting in a garden eating pizza and drinking cocktails in an eclectic range of furniture. The stage has a particularly homey feel to it, if your home is a small red velvet pillow with delightful lamps in it. Acts here are usually, but not always: lyrical, layered, often whimsical and most usually, endearing. Its usually the kind of music you find yourself leaning forward to listen closer to, and luckily, it’s the kind of venue were you can hear it. I like the Treehouse. Can you tell?
Woody’s Surf Shack Bar and Nightclub http://www.woodysbyronbay.com/
Up late live Dj’s, dance floor, and billiards.
The YAC – The Byron Youth Service http://bys.org.au/whats-on/
This isn’t a venue per say, but it does have a very large undercover outdoor stage and a large grassy amphitheatre, so I think it deserves a mention. If you play something the youth of Byron would love, then this is where you need to know about. They can put on a good festival too.
If you are coming here to put on a gig, be sure to contact and listen in to Byron Radio station, Bay FM on 99.9. http://bayfm.org/ (My hot tip is Cruizey Beats on Monday afternoon’s).
There are a lot of venues, nightclubs and festivals packed in to this relatively small town, not to mention all the little community halls; and even more still in our surrounding towns. Meaning, there is undoubtedly just the perfect venue for what you do. Now, put on your fancy shoes and get your face out there. Good Luck!