Now then, we’ve rounded up 20 of the Leeds best music venues for free gigs.
Going out for a night of live music is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but it’s not always easy to afford the big shows. That doesn’t mean you have to miss out though, because there are loads of free gigs in Leeds. From the city’s best-loved musical institutions to the many bars and pubs that put on entertainment, if you know where to go, your next live gig that won’t cost you a penny.
Brudenell Social Club
Brudenell Social Club is one of the most important music venues in Leeds. It welcomes the best and brightest from around the world to its hallowed stage – and some of their gigs are free. They have a handful of shows each month from up and coming artists, usually local musicians looking to make their break, and you can get in for nothing. Look out for the bi-monthly, pay-as-you-feel Brudenell Piano Sessions showcase too.
Brudenell Social Club, 33 Queens Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1NY.
The Duck & Drake
The Duck & Drake is a friendly local boozer that doubles as one of the city’s most popular live music venues. You can catch free bands every Thursday, Friday and Saturday without fail. They put on a healthy mix of tribute acts paying homage to classic rock stars of days gone by, alongside a smattering of artists performing their own works. Be warned, they charge if they’ve pulled in a bigger name, but it’s not very often.
The Duck and Drake, 43 Kirkgate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7DR.
The majority of the gigs at Sela Bar are free, which is staggering when you see the artists they welcome into their subterranean hideaway. Sela is well known for its love of leftfield genres and their live gigs often reflect that – The Mabgate Sela Sessions promise local jazz artists every Wednesday and Mojah Reggae take over on the last Thursday of the month. But that’s just the start as they often welcome touring acts for free shows on other nights too.
Sela Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
Start your week with a night of free live music at Oporto. Every Monday, they host The Gaslight Club, a Greenwich Village-style shindig where the city’s best up and coming talent play their latest tunes. Slow Club, Blue Roses and Sam Airey have all graced their stage in the past. They sometimes have free shows on the rest of the week too, so remember to check their listings on a regular basis.
Oporto, 33 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.
Hyde Park Book Club
Hyde Park Book Club is a cafe-cum-bar that hosts regular free gigs from both local and national artists. Every Thursday, they hold a free showcase of top new jazz musicians like Sontuno, The Jack Garside Quintet and Cornbread, but that’s not all. They also host a monthly Open Turntables night, where you can bring your own records and be the DJ.
Hyde Park Book Club, 27-29 Headingley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1BL.
The Domino Club
The Domino Club is one of the coolest gig venues in Leeds. Head down the stairs in the back of Lords Barbering and into this New York-style speakeasy. From Sunday to Thursday night, you can enjoy an eclectic line-up of jazz, funk and soul bands for absolutely nothing. It changes from week-to-week, but in the past, they’ve lined-up The Domino Trio, Jacob Savage and The Ben Playford Trio.
The Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
Chunk is a cutting edge music and art collective that offers an all-inclusive space to the next generation of talent. It doubles up as a live music venue, and they regularly host gigs by their own artists, alongside touring groups. Most of their gigs operate a pay-as-you-feel policy, so if you’re short on cash, you can just make a donation next time you visit.
Chunk, 275 Meanwood Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 2JD.
If you love punk and metal music get down to whiskey dive bar Santiago for their free gigs. The Leeds favourite has been putting on good times for nearly 20 years with the best rock’n’roll bands they can find. Local live groups often take to the stage in their downstairs bar on Friday and Saturday nights, and you don’t have to pay to get into the majority of of their gigs.
Santiago, 1-3 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.
If you want a night of live music during the week, head to LS6 Cafe. It’s home to one of the longest running weekly jazz nights in Leeds – and it’s absolutely free. The Jazz Night @ LS6 takes place every Wednesday. It kicks off with local artists playing their own tunes, before everyone joins forces for one big jam session. They also host the monthly LS6 Reggae Night as well as regular free nights with up and coming Leeds DJs.
LS6 Cafe, 16 Headingley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AS.
The HiFi Club
The HiFi Club is well known for its late night parties, but it’s also one of the best venues for free gigs in Leeds. End your week at The Sunday Joint, the legendary showcase which has brought the finest soul, Latin, funk, hip-hop and salsa artists to the city since 1994. DJs play between bands and the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae, Submotion Orchestra and Gentleman’s Dub Club have all taken to the stage over the years.
The HiFi Club, 2 Central Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DE.
HEART puts on free gigs on a regular basis. Check into their Acoustic Night on the third Saturday of every month, or pop along to one of their monthly collaborations with Leeds College of Music. They do Classical Night and Jazz Springboard to showcase the next generation of top musical talent currently plying their trade in the city.
HEART, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HN.
Headrow House is a cool-as-heck bar with a whole floor dedicated to live events. They host a regular line-up of touring acts, the majority of which you’ll have to pay for, but keep an eye out for the odd free gig from local acts every month. They also work with local indie Crash Records to put on one-off shows from big names to celebrate the release of their new albums.
Headrow House, Bramley’s Yard, 19 The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PU.
If you love jazz music, you need to head to Remedy. It’s a Parisian-style cafe bar that has jazz standards coming out of the speakers every day, but if you like your music live, they have a secret in store for you. They welcome live jazz musicians like Alice Higgins and Terri Shaltiel to play in Poison Cocktail Lounge downstairs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Remedy, 16 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.
It’s very rare that you’ll have to pay to get into one of Distrikt’s underground events. They’re committed to bringing some of the finest electronic music talent to Leeds and do so on a regular basis. Whether it’s DJs or live bands, they’ve welcomed renowned names like Joey Negro, Nightmares on Wax and Marshall Jefferson to their intimate city centre hideaway.
Distrikt, 7 Duncan Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6DQ.
Seven Arts is one of the best places to watch free gigs in Leeds. They have two weekly jazz nights, one on Thursday night and another on Sunday afternoons, both promise a who’s who of the British jazz music scene. But it’s not just jazz, they also put on gigs from local bands, acoustic singer-songwriters and classical musicians.
Seven Arts, 31a Harrogate Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3PD.
The Chemic Tavern
The Chemic Tavern is a charming local pub just minutes from the city centre and it has a packed line-up of free gigs nearly every day of the week. Head in on Wednesdays for their Open Irish and Ukulele Sessions or visit on Thursdays for their Open Mic Night. If you pop in any other night, you can expect an eclectic line-up of artists, who’ll play anything from sea shanties to jazz.
The Chemic Tavern, 9 Johnston Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2NG.
There’s often live music blaring out of Northern Guitars. All of their gigs are free, so head in on Saturdays for their laid-back Afternoon Americana with B.W. Pike and Friends, or start your week with their Northern Guitars Open Mic every Monday. In between all that, they welcome a host of top touring bands and local musicians nearly every day of the week.
Northern Guitars, 41 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.
Head downstairs to Verve’s Mariachi Bar for free gigs four nights a week. Rum N’ Rock takes over on Thursdays with local bands, In Utero brings the best up and coming rock acts from across the UK on Fridays and Double Denim Live promises local indie groups on Saturdays. If you prefer a more relaxed show, end the week with a line-up of local acoustic acts at Live at Verve on Sundays.
Verve, 16 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.
The Inkwell is another jazz-loving haunt that puts on two of the best free gig nights in Leeds. Jazz Leeds take over on the first Saturday of every month for Inkwell Divas that sees local singers belt out classic American standards in the gallery space. They also host a fortnightly Sunday Jazz Cafe club that welcomes a host of the best jazz musicians from around the UK.
The Inkwell, 31 Potternewton Lane, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3LW.
Wharf Chambers is a co-operative, which means it’s run by its members for its members – and to become one you have to pay a one-off £2 fee. But once you’ve done that, you’ll get access to loads of free gigs at one of the best music venues in Leeds. You can see anything from up and coming local bands to touring acts, so make sure you check their events calendar to see what’s up next.
Wharf Chambers, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 7EQ.Cover image credit: Andy Hughes.