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Fri 12 Apr

In The Area - Thornbury

From intimate stores to historic venues, Thornbury is a go to for all things live music. Check out a few of our selections.

By Always Live

Nestled between its siblings, Northcote and Preston, Thornbury anchors the trio of suburbs affectionately dubbed 'the Bonsoy Belt' of Melbourne. This area, cherished by Greek and Italian immigrants since World War II, has undergone rapid transformation this past decade. Spirited new venues now dot the landscape of High Street, creating distinct, vibrant music communities.

And yet, Thornbury's musical roots run deeper than the recent waves of gentrification. Its venues hosted some of Melbourne's earliest rock'n'roll gigs, with a musical history dating back to the 1950s. Long before St Kilda claimed the spotlight, Preston and Thornbury were the catalysts that ignited Melbourne's music scene. Preston City Hall, just a stone's throw away, stood as the epicentre of the city's burgeoning musical culture.

Fast forward to the early 2000s, Thornbury had become more synonymous with dusty shops than Melbourne’s home of music. However, as gentrification swept through neighbouring areas, Thornbury's allure began to grow. A defining moment arrived around 2010 with the opening of the now-iconic Umberto Espresso Bar, marking the acceleration of Thornbury's transformation. Thankfully, this evolution hasn't diluted Thornbury’s distinctive character. Historic social clubs like Democritus House and House of Hercules continue to thrive, while the wide, weatherboard-lined side streets maintain their suburban charm. The bars and cafes that have emerged in the last decade seem to uphold Thornbury's down-to-earth atmosphere.

Today, Thornbury serves as a beacon for those seeking vibrant music culture, whether it's spending an afternoon browsing record stores or catching a live gig. It’s these venues that have helped High St topple Smith as ‘world’s coolest street’ (as contentious as the title might be).

We’ve compiled a list of our Thornbury favourites, all serviced by the famed 86 tram line—a route immortalised by Courtney Barnett’s ‘I Can't Hear You, We're Breaking Up. These venues are just a taste of what this dynamic suburb has to offer, making it the perfect destination for an afternoon or evening of exploration.

Dive into the essence of Thornbury at Thornbury Records—a haven for vinyl enthusiasts. This is where you can truly hear Thornbury, with a diverse mix of releases from artists featured on our VIA VIC playlist. Step inside and immerse yourself in the authentic vibe of this local gem.

A cozy retreat for book lovers, Perimeter Books offers more than just literature—it's a sanctuary of intimate charm. While it caters to bibliophiles, don't miss its section dedicated to music and sound. Pick up a book and cozy up at one of the nearby bars for a perfect Thornbury experience.

Satisfying northside thirsts for over a decade, Carwyn Cellars is synonymous with quality in Melbourne's beer scene. Renowned as one of Melbourne’s best beer venues, it's a hotspot for musicians and music enthusiasts alike. Grab a drink before heading to a show and soak in the vibrant atmosphere.

Catch the pulse of Melbourne's music scene at Shotkickers—an intimate venue where you're likely to discover the next big thing. With live music seven nights a week, it embodies the essence of Thornbury's vibrant culture. Don't miss the chance to experience the magic of Melbourne's small music venues.

Step into the past at Thornbury Theatre—a venue steeped in old-world charm and musical history. From its grand ballroom to its storied past as a music venue, every corner exudes a sense of nostalgia. Catch a show and immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Thornbury's cultural heritage.

An iconic Thornbury landmark, The Croxton Bandroom is a testament to Melbourne's rich musical heritage. With a history dating back to 1844, it has played host to artists across every genre imaginable. Versatile and iconic, it remains a cornerstone of Melbourne's live music scene.

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