If you live in Brighton and love live music, you'll already know about the city's energetic club and bar scene. It's right up there with Liverpool and Manchester for producing local talent, and Brighton remains at the cutting-edge of everything from indie to electronic music. Famous Brighton bands include The Kooks, Bat for Lashes, British Sea Power and The Maccabees - it's also the home of superstar DJ, Fatboy Slim. Read on to discover where is the best places to see established artists and spot up-and-coming local stars of the future.
Mid-sized late night bar and club
Hidden away under the Victorian railway arches near the station, this late night venue has a welcome grungy feel and has become one of Brighton's best loved music venues since opening in 2011. You can see a diverse range of live bands, from critically-acclaimed artists to the latest next-big-Brighton-thing, as well as get involved with the weekly club nights. The stage is large, and it has great acoustics for a small venue - you can also hear the music from the separate bar. Their resident blues band - Smokestack - play every Sunday evening, making it a relaxing end to the weekend. Entry to gigs are reasonably priced, but the bar is always free to visit (and general entrance is free post-11pm).
New acts on the cusp of bigger things, local groups and club nights, particularly hip hop.
Seafront mid-sized club
One of the best live music venues on the south coast, the 600-capacity venue feels a bit like a conservatory with great views. It's also more than likely to get a bit hot in this former Victorian tea room. There's a screen showing the bands in the bar, and although they don't serve food, for big nights they might have a fast food concession. They do have a cloakroom (and no dress code). Young gig goers (14+) can sometimes get in to see the early evening shows accompanied by an adult but anything after 11pm is 18 and over.
GIG FACTS: Bloc Party, Jarvis Cocker, Dave Grohl, Scissor Sisters and the White Stripes have all played here
Probably the most likely place to catch a hyped band before they get too big, this rough and ready club is conveniently right by the National Express stop and close to the Pier. If you want to get a birds-eye view of the bands in this old converted cinema, head up to the large balcony, which also has a large bar. But do get up there early - this is the most popular spot in the 375 capacity club. They don't do food, but do have a decent beer range. This is probably one of the coolest gig venues (certainly in terms of the acts they book) to see live music in Brighton.
Helpfully located close to Brighton's train station, this pub is covered in a vivid mural of the owner's favourite music heroes. While it does a great range in food and drink, the pub's raison d'être is to promote music in all its forms. A huge variety of live music is played in their upstairs room, with a small charge to see some bands (you can book advance or pay on the door). A relaxed and popular place to hang out at, even if there isn't a band playing.
FAMOUS FACES: Among the music stars appearing on the graffiti-style mural are John Lennon, Freddy Mercury and Bob Marley. They join the original featured image of groundbreaking DJ John Peel.
Mainly rock but also featuring folk, and indie FacebookGetting there: 48 Trafalgar Street, Brighton, BN1 4ED Opening hours: Mon-Thurs: 12pm to 12am, Fri-Sat: 12pm to 12.30am, Sun: 12pm to 12am
Winning the most unusual name for a live music venue in Brighton, this pub has plenty of personality and loves to support local, as well as international, artists. They have a dedicated downstairs space to showcase bands, which has really good acoustics for a small venue. They also have an array of club nights, and their reasonably-priced handmade pizzas get rave reviews.
Alternative and indie bands
Large theatre and concert hall
Brighton's very grand, atmospheric and plush main theatre is built in the former Pavilion Stables (not that you'd be able to tell). The main Art-Deco concert halldoes a good mix of cultural live music and can seat 1700 people. Big-named acts and top-class orchestras have played here over the years, including David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix. The Dome's smaller, sister venue, the Corn Exchange, is a good spot to catch an established, mid-sized act. There's also a third venue in the complex - the Studio Theatre; which does feel a little like a school assembly hall, albeit one with a lively bar downstairs.
DOME FACT: The venue was turned into a giant marble in 2004. Artist Graeme Gilmour shrink-wrapped the Concert Hall using 12km of cling film.
Top-quality classical stuff and renowned rock and pop acts
The Hope & Ruin (previously The Hope) was refurbished and transformed in 2015. Hope Live, the upstairs gig venue, now has a capacity of 100 and will feature big named acts, local bands as well as club nights and acoustic evenings. The pub's new image is inspired by the Eastern European bar scene, and has a new menu and range of craft beers.
FAMOUS FACES: In the pub's previous incarnation, The Hope, Adele, The Strokes and George Ezra are among artists who have appeared in the upstairs room.
Big names on the rise as well as supporting local bands
Comedy and cabaret club
Intimate and atmospheric, you'll occasionally get much bigger acts than you'd expect playing here. They do mainly acoustic-ish and seated shows, which are cosy, relaxed and chilled. It's also home to the legendary Krater Comedy Club, and it is this blend of music, comedy and cabaret that means you’ll arrive here to see one thing and stay for several more.
Alternative and varied acts - with influences ranging from Blues to Ska and Folk to Hip Hop
Large entertainment, exhibition and conference venue
While it doesn't have the prettiest façade (very late 70s, concrete building), this is a great place to see large arena-sized acts - particularly comedians. The capacity is 4,500 but it doesn't feel as big as most arenas, which means you get a great view. If you want to grab a bite to eat here, there is a restaurant with sea views, or you can pick up a seasonal treat at the Feed Cafe. Drinks wise, if the concert is seating the bar is only open before the show starts and at the interval. For standing gigs you can grab a drink all the way through.
This venue used to be the Hanbury Ballroom, where the White Stripes played their first ever UK gig, and is just outside the city centre in Kemptown. Top-class cabaret singers, along with comedy and burlesque acts entertain you in the intimate surroundings of a retro-supper club. Take the time to look up while you watch the entertainment, it has a stunning ceiling feature.
This funky bar in the Lanes has a combination of burlesque and steampunk in its decor, with a nod to the 1930s gin palaces. They play a variety of live music from Sunday through to Thursday, including house bands the Flash Mob Jazz Quintet (Mondays) and gypsy jazz sextet The Swing Ninjas (Wednesdays). For a different flavour try Mesmerist Music Thursdays, where they have one-off shows from a variety of bands. Entrance is free and live music generally gets under way from 9pm.
Vintage and revival inspired acts - and the house bands
Website and Facebook Getting there: 1-3 Prince Albert Street, Brighton, BN1 1HEOpening hours: Sun-Thur: 12pm to 1am, Fri-Sat: 12pm to 2am
Well we have 44 reasons to visit Brighton to get you started. If you've worked up an appetite from all that gig-going, why not go for a recovery Brighton breakfast or brunch. You’ll also probably need a hotel in Brighton to stay in. So we've put together 15 of the best Brighton hotels to inspire you to stay the night.
We'd love to hear your best spots for seeing a band. Let us know your preferred places by leaving a comment below.