13 Live Music Venues In Manchester You Can Get A Gig At
These are the best music venues in Manchester for independent artists to play at, and budding promoters to put on nights.
From post-punk to 90s Brit-pop, the emergence of the Madchester scene and the legendary Hacienda, Manchester has always stood out as a city with some serious music culture.
A long-time hub for guitar music, the emergence of indie giants such as The Fall, Oasis, The Smiths and Joy Divsion can be traced back to Manchester. Meanwhile, dance music followers may single out the Factory Records era – the rise of 808 State and A Guy Called Gerald.
In recent years, Manchester still stakes a claim as the alternative music capital of the North, boasting some of today's most prominent DJs and producers – Floating Points, Afrodeustche, Interplanetary Criminal and Nia Archives to name a few. MCs such as Bugzy Malone, IMDDB and DRC represent the city’s vocal talents. Not to forget, many of the best new British bands also call Manchester home – Witch Fever, Working Men’s Club and W.H Lung are some of the brightest.
Crucially, the city boasts a variety of unique venues where unsigned artists, rising stars and collectives can play, start parties and gain inspiration. Have a gander through the busy Northern Quarter or escape to the city's suburbs – live music bars, concert venues, free live shows and restaurants with live music are thriving across the city.
With tour season very much in full swing, we've created a list of the best Manchester music venues, whether you wish to play in them, run your own night or catch high-profile artists next time you're in town.
25 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ
This solid Northern Quarter choice is one of Manchester’s most legendary music venues. The biggest names in indie music, such as The Buzzcocks, Joy Division, The Fall, Arctic Monkeys and an unsigned Elbow have graced the stage.
Not just a live music venue, Band On The Wall prides itself on being a center for learning, hosting various workshops, courses with Manchester college, open decks nights and its famous Jam On The Wall Thursdays when anyone can perform with their house band.
Jam On The Wall Thursdays are a great opportunity to meet and collaborate with great local musicians, and booking manager Stephen is clear that everyone is welcome:
“Thursday nights are our weekly jam nights – We have Callum Conell from Secret Night Gang, Jocely Knight, Joe Luckin, Juicy Bits and students from RNCM performing on a regular basis.
We've also had bands like Moby Dickless running a jam which have been super fun and successful!
All the artists are incredible players but even better human beings and make everyone that wants to join the jam a part of the collective. Come down any Thursday and get involved.”
Expect to hear anything and everything at Band On The Wall. From parties put on by Manchester DJ collectives showcasing the sounds of Detroit house and techno, rocksteady reggae and jazz ensembles. All is welcome.
The Band On The Wall bar capacity is 180 people for club nights and 140 people for live music events. The whole venue capacity is 600 people.
Booking manager Stephen is clear that Band On The Wall are always happy to hear from aspiring promoters and performers:
"We're open to up-and-coming promoters, experienced promoters and bands running events at the venue."
Look out for their independent artist nights on Wednesdays and their Thursday jam sessions.
2. EASTERN BLOC
Eastern Bloc, 5A Stevenson Square, Manchester M1 1DN
Record shop and cafe by day, heavyweight electronic music venue by night. The Eastern Bloc dancefloor packs a punch for its size, pushing away the daytime tables and benches to present an expert curation of local talent and fine selectors from further afield.
Nestled in its Northern Quarter home, this transformative venue has to be one of the best dance spots in Manchester. Head to the busy Stevenson square venue on Fridays, Saturdays, and some Thursdays, and expect to find good quality techno, electro, house, jungle, breaks and beyond.
As for the lineup, events manager and head house and techno vinyl buyer Ben explains how Eastern Bloc foster a community feel and nurture up-and-coming local talent:
“We try to focus on local collectives and people who use the record shop regularly. If they are a single DJ/live act we can try and get them on a line up curated by Eastern Bloc. We have a regular night called 'New Territories' where we showcase new local talent.”
Expect a range of electronic sounds.
The capacity at Eastern Bloc in Manchester is 75 people.
Running a party? You can hit up email@example.com with a proposal for a night you want to put on. You can also pitch mixes from artists you plan to showcase. However, DJs are expected to know how to mix vinyl records:
"There has always been a focus on the format used at the nights.” - Ben, Events Manager
38 Charles St, Manchester M1 7DB
Another haven for eclecticism, YES is over towards the Oxford Road area of the city on Charles Street, a stone's throw away from Manchester Met and Manchester Uni, making it a frequented venue for food and live music.
The old auction house turned 4-floor music venue is famed for its tasty pizza slices, outside terrace and The Pink Room – a live music and basement club for dancing and DJs (a last minute venue for Bristol techno metal supremos Scalping after their cancelled Working Men’s Club at Manchester Academy).
Largely through independent promoters Now Wave, the venue host some of the most exciting indie bands and electronic acts of today. There are lots of free parties and jam-packed lineups. This year, they've already welcomed the likes of Lynks, Dar Disku, Jadu Heart, Mandy Indiana, Warmduscher and more.
The best of everyting indie and electronic.
The capacity at YES Manchester is 120 people.
44 Blossom Street, Ancoats, Manchester M46BF
Found in the Northern Quarter’s trendy neighbourhood area of Ancoats, Hip Hop Chip Shop has to be one of Manchester’s most quirky restaurants with live music.
As the name suggests, this dine-in fish and chip shop focuses on hip hop beats, a little funk and soul, open mic nights and charity and community events. On top of this, the menu is some top notch scran with hip-hop themed fish and chip style mains such as Feastie Boys, Halloumi Myself and I and Veganstarr.
Expect hip hop, turntablism, soul and MCs at Hip Hop Chip Shop on any given night.
The capacity at Hip Hop Chip Shop is 60 people standing, 35 people seated.
26 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN
A vital part of Manchester's musical history, present-day and future, the famous Night and Day Cafe has been at the heart of Manchester’s live music scene for over thirty years, described by Elbow frontman Guy Garvey as ‘the jewel in Manchester’s crown’ (The whole of Elbow’s first album 'Asleep In The Back' was written at the bar and they were first spotted by industry heads at Night and Day).
On the popular Oldham Street stretch, the venue host bands most nights and club events Friday and Saturday. Having hosted names such as Elbow, Courteeners, Johnny Marr, Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Manic Street Preachers and Paolo Nutini, the venue is no stranger to great music. This year's listings are set to feature acts such as A Certain Ratio, JW Francis, The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio and more.
Night and Day Cafe is the destination for the best indie rock.
The capacity at Night and Day Cafe Manchester is 250 people.
The best nights for independent artists at Night and Day Cafe are Loose Joints (local DJs on the decks on Saturday) or N&D Local Showcase (a showcase of their favorite local artists). For band bookings or venue hire, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
6. CASTLE HOTEL
66 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
The Castle Hotel is a traditional British pub run by Robinsons Brewery. Another iconic Northern Quarter venue, this one has a proper alternative, in the know feel.
Founded in 1776, The Castle Hotel is one of Manchester’s oldest and most historic pubs. This is where Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis was infamously interviewed for the Northern Lights zine.
A nurturing space for grassroots music, many now successful artists and bands have this on their bucket list of places to play, with rising bands such as English Teacher, cowboyy, They Hate Change and Langkamer all gracing this venue's listing.
The Castle Hotel welcome a wide array of sounds from across the spectrum, venue manager Adelaide Bogros explains they work with external promoters to achieve diverse bookings:
“We focus on live bands and work with external promoters to put events on. We don't book in-house, so there is no predominant genre of music as such that we would prioritse.”
The capacity at Castle Hotel Manchester is 800 people.
Check The Castle Hotel’s socials and listings online where you can see which promoters they work with. Live bands are encouraged to get in touch.
Dickinson St, Salford M3 7LW
Easily one of Manchester’s most exciting dancefloors The White Hotel exists a little stretch away from the city center, in a remote industrial carpark area in Salford.
Entering the White Hotel is a surreal experience, the disused industrial space perfect for its pumping soundsystem (they don't need to worry about upsetting the neighbors) and enveloping smog, a proper leftfield and underground rave aesthetic.
The club run an in-house series ‘The White Hotel Presents’, inviting esteemed selectors such as Underground Resistance, Batu, Helena Hauff, Anz and more to command the experimental sound palace. The venue also work with independent promoters (The Grey Lantern, Now Wave) and reach afield of the electronic genre to host alternative acts in post-punk/shoegaze realms such as A Place To Bury Strangers, Xiu Xiu, BDRMM and more.
Expect the best of electronic music.
The capacity at The White Hotel Manchester is 250 people.
You can contact The White Hotel promoters at email@example.com.
19 Collier St, Salford M3 7DW
A hidden gem located in the Salford area, this ‘pub-club’ is packed with personality, a beautiful terracotta brick building, great eagle imagery and a cosy inside.
On the one side, The Eagle Inn is very much a traditional no-nonsense boozer. On the flip, attached to the building (in what used to be a terraced house) is a slick multi-level music venue, with a sofa room mezzanine overlooking the stage. This works great for intimate live events and sweaty dance floor sessions alike.
The venue also doubles up as a rehearsal room for bands, there is a selection of equipment including mics, a drum kit, mixing desks, guitar amps, PA and more. You can book a gig or casual party with them online, if you can find a free date.
Their eclectic listings feature both hot new indie outfits and some of the UK's most trusted labels and DJs.
The capacity at The Eagle Inn Manchester is 80 people.
135 Grosvenor St, Manchester M1 7HE
Another long standing Manchester gig venue (originally built in 1978), The Deaf Institute is as famed for its club nights as live music, open to promoters to fill their venue with new talent or welcome DJs to showcase new club nights in the den.
Found in the midst of Manchester Met uni campus, just off Oxford Road, this Grade II-listed building spreads over three floors with a ballroom music hall housing a giant mirrorball.
The venue is also renowned for its The Smiths themed Indian street-food vegan menu This Charming Naan. There’s an attractive agenda for 2023 with rappers Jeshi, Master Peace and Mavi set to play and indie favorites Wunderhorse, Bartees Strange, Caitlin Rose and Personal Trainer also taking the stage.
Discover the UK's best new indie bands at Manchester's Deaf Institute.
The capacity at Deaf Institute is 260 people for live events, and 60 people for club nights.
Deaf Institute hosts one of the best events in town for independent artists, Whip Round is a weekly series of live events showcasing the best new alternative and post-punk bands around. For live bookings, email Ciaran Cullan on firstname.lastname@example.org, or for club bookings, email Leah on email@example.com.
Unit 2, 33 Blossom St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 6AJ
A real Ancoats gem, Nam operates as an Vietmanese kitchen, audiophile bar and music venue.
The sound system is assembled by the team from London listening bar Brilliant Corners, the perfect output for Manchester DJs looking to explore underground sounds on vinyl.
Music lovers can book to eat or drink cocktails in the basement, where most nights there will be DJs playing a diverse mix of music until close.
The basement sessions have seen Manchester legend and residents Krysko and Rufdug and DJs/collectives such as Aletha, Donna Leake, Mr Bongo, Anti Social Jazz Club, Hidden Spheres, Dar Disku, Eglo Records and NTS have taken the controls.
Enjoy vinyl only sets of electronic, Jazz and rare cuts.
Nam's basement capacity is 70 people, the whole venue holds 150 people.
Join Nam's open decks night (45 minutes allocated in advance), or check out their weekly Lotus events – nights dedicated to womxn DJs from Manchester, supporting female home grown talent through music and panel discussions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
54-56 Whitworth St, Manchester M1 5WW
Under the railway arches in the city center, Gorilla is another Oxford road location where it's all going on, most recently in the spotlight for their 1975 event, where the band chose Gorilla as the intimate space for a homecoming charity gig.
The upcoming listings are equally impressive, with performances from Paul Draper, Olivia Dean, Yellow Days. Biig Piig, Jockstrap and more on the cards.
Expect great live music, from across all genres.
The capacity at Gorilla Manchester is 800 people.
As well as gigs, Gorilla also hosts open mic nights, album launches and its own club nights: Gorilla Sounds. To get involved, email email@example.com.
31 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JZ
A hotel built in 1783, The Rose and Monkey has long been full of music since the 1800s, the passing by vagabonds and Victorian troubadours the first to ever do it. Its fascinating music venue life continues as it developed to create a pub for live music that also served as a space for bands to hangout or stay overnight when they were on tour. All vinyl nights, free entry ska parties and all dayer events in connection with Band On The Wall and folk clubs, the venue welcomes bands just starting out with many of its regular residents faces that also work behind the bar.
All genres welcome
127-128 Stretford Mall, Chester Rd, Manchester M32 9BH Photo: @headstretford
You don't have to rely just on the city center for good music venues. If you're living or spending time in Manchester, it is definitely worth venturing to suburbs such as West Didsbury, Chorlton or Stretford where you can find some great independently owned bars and businesses.
HEAD in Stretford has a proper old school feel, like someone's bustling listening room or shabby but chic dive bar of old. With longstanding Manchester DJs making regular appearances, it’s a very local affair but the decks are open to all.
This is a venue for DJs. Expect to hear funk, northern soul and house music.
If you want to DJ at HEAD, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.