Leeds-List: The Best & Most Insightful Guide to Leeds

The Best Places to Catch Free Gigs in Leeds

· Joseph Sheerin · Music

This is where you’ll find the best free gigs in Leeds.

The Domino Club

Love music? Love free stuff? We have the perfect combination for you, as these Leeds venues put on gigs for absolutely nowt.

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 live entertainment nearly every night of the week, if you know where to go, your next gig won’t cost you a penny.

Brudenell Social Club

Brudenell Social Club

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Jess Rowbottom

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 – yet it still has time to put on free gigs. They have a handful of shows each month from up-and-coming artists, usually local, emerging musicians looking to make their break, and you can get in for nothing. Look out for the 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

The Duck & Drake is a classic of the friendly local boozer genre and it doubles as one of the city’s most popular live music venues. You can catch free bands every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, less regularly on other nights. 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 tunes. 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.

Sela Bar

Sela Bar

A lot of the live shows at Sela Bar are free (or pay-as-you-feel), which is staggering when you look at the artists they welcome into their subterranean city centre hideaway. Sela is known for its love of leftfield genres and their live gigs often reflect that – from their regular Jazz Jam sessions to nights from The Sela Funk Band. But that’s just the start as they often welcome local and touring acts for free shows on other nights too.

Sela Bar, 20 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.

Oporto

Oporto live music

Start your week with a night of free live music at Oporto. On the final Monday night of the month, The Gaslight Club host The Hootenanny, a right old shindig where the city’s best up-and-coming talent play tunes with the legendary Joe Montague and his Hootenanny House Band. They sometimes have free live shows through 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

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 Oppgard, The Jack Garside Quintet and Cornbread, but that’s not all you can enjoy – you can even get involved yourself. You see, they also host a monthly Open Turntables night, where you can bring your own records and be the DJ you always dreamed of being.

Hyde Park Book Club, 27-29 Headingley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 1BL.

The Domino Club

The Domino Club

Credit: McFade Photography

The Domino Club is one of the coolest venues in Leeds. Head down the stairs in the back of a Grand Arcade barbers and into this New York-style speakeasy for free gigs. You can enjoy an eclectic line-up of jazz, funk and soul bands for absolutely nothing all week long. It changes from night-to-night, but in the past, they’ve lined-up The Domino Trio, Jacob Savage and The Ben Playford Trio. They have ticketed shows on too, so check their programme before you visit.

The Domino Club, 7 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

Santiago

Music at Santiago

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 one of their event spaces on Friday and Saturday nights, with weeknight shows a rarer occurrence. It’s not always the case, but you don’t have to pay to get into a lot of their gigs.

Santiago, 1-3 Grand Arcade, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PG.

Leeds Conservatoire

Adam Stanovic, Sounds Like THIS Festival, Leeds College of Music

Leeds Conservatoire is one of the leading music higher education institutions in the UK and they host many free gigs throughout the week. Whether it’s in their Recital Room or The Venue, you can see the next generation of musical talent showing off the tunes they’ve been working on as students, but it’s not just local artists. From classical to pop, they welcome renowned touring musicians for the odd free show too.

Leeds Conservatoire, 3 Quarry Hill, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 7PD.

LS6 Cafe

Jazz at LS6 Cafe

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 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 fortnightly Reggae Night, Open Mic Night and Blues Night as well as regular free events with Leeds DJs.

LS6 Cafe, 16 Headingley Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AS.

The HiFi Club

Mixtape Project Hifi

Credit: Mixtape Hifi

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. You can 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.

Headrow House

Lola Coca Headrow House LIF

Credit: Andy Hughes

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 vast majority of which you’ll have to pay for, but keep your eyes peeled for the odd free gig from local artists which tend to crop up on their social media channels from time to time. 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.

Distrikt

Distrikt

If you’re fan of the coolest electronic sounds from the underground, Distrikt is a must-visit. It’s very rare – almost unheard of, in fact – that you’ll have to pay to get into one of their events. They’re committed to bringing some of the finest electronic music talents to Leeds and do so on a regular basis. Whether it’s DJs or live sets, 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.

HEART

HEART, also known as the Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, puts on free gigs on a regular basis. Tuesday Night and Friday Night Live bring Leeds artists to the stage. You can also check into their Acoustic Night on the third Saturday of every month, or pop along to one of their monthly collaborations with Leeds Conservatoire. They put on Classical Platform and a Jazz @ HEART showcase to elevate the next generation of musical talent plying their trade in the city.

HEART, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HN.

Seven Arts

Seven Arts Jazz

Credit: Alden Chadwick licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

Seven Arts is one of the best places to watch free gigs in Leeds. They have two weekly jazz shows from the folks behind JazzLeeds and Leeds Jazz Festival, who host all their events here. Some are free and some aren’t, but any of the live music events promise a who’s who of the British jazz music scene. It’s not just jazz though, they also put on free gigs from local bands, acoustic singer-songwriters and classical musicians throughout the year.

Seven Arts, 31a Harrogate Road, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 3PD.

The Chemic Tavern

The Chemic Tavern

The Chemic Tavern is a charming local pub just minutes from Leeds city centre in Woodhouse and it runs a packed line-up of free gigs nearly every day of the week. Head in on Mondays for their Open Irish Session, on Tuesdays for the Community Choir, on Wednesdays for the Ukulele and Irish Group and on Thursdays for their Open Mic Night. Pop in any other night and 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.

Northern Guitars

Northern Guitars

There’s often live music blaring out of Northern Guitars, the bar on Call Lane that’s just a little different to its neighbours. All of their gigs are free, so head in on Saturdays for their laid-back acoustic performances, or start your week with their Northern Guitars Open Mic nights on Mondays. In between all that, they welcome a host of top touring bands and local musicians nearly every day of the week, so stick your head in, grab a pint and enjoy.

Northern Guitars, 41 Call Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 7BT.

Verve

Music at Verve Bar Leeds

© Copyright Leeds-List 2022 by Barnaby Aldrick.

Head downstairs to Verve’s Mariachi Bar for free gigs in Leeds city centre. This spot is well known for its love of rock & roll, so you can look forward to a host of rising indie bands, but they also have the occasional evenings dedicated to a slower pace with acoustic acts and singer-songwriters. It’s usually open on Saturday and Sunday evenings, but they do host infrequent live music and stand-up comedy shows through the week.

Verve, 16 Merrion Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6PQ.

The Grove Inn

The Grove Inn is one of the most storied music venues around and quite possibly the original home of free gigs in Leeds. This traditional pub on the edge of the city centre has hosted the city’s longest-running folk music night since 1962 – it’s still going strong and, most importantly, it’s still free. They have live music on nearly every night of the week, as local artists and international touring acts play everything from Americana to rock, blues and country.


The Grove Inn, Back Row, Holbeck, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS11 5PL.

Wharf Chambers

Wharf Chambers

Credit: Cavie78 licensed under Creative Commons for commercial use.

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 emerging local bands to big name touring acts, so make sure you check their ever-growing events calendar to see what’s coming up next.

Wharf Chambers, 23-25 Wharf Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS7 7EQ.

The Fox & Newt

An old-fashioned pub with its own micro-brewery on-site, there’s a lot to The Fox and Newt, but did you know it’s a live music venue too? Above the pub, it’s got one of the most intimate event spaces in Leeds, with regular gigs for around 80 punters, some of which are gratis, others you’ll have to part with a couple of quid for. There’s huge variety in what they programme, so there’s something for everyone, from budding local acts, to tribute acts and touring groups.

The Fox and Newt, 9 Burley Street, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS3 1LD.

Howard Assembly Room

Show at Howard Assembly Room

Credit: Justin Slee

After a long-awaited refurbishment, Howard Assembly Room is safely one of the best music venues in Leeds, and remarkably, some of its rich programme is free to enjoy. They’re one of the venues that the Brudenell Piano Sessions often visits from time-to-time, but that’s not all. Whether it’s community shows, part of wider festivals or just one of their shows, you can enjoy free or pay-as-you-feel live music in their breathtaking events spaces.

Howard Assembly Room, 46 New Briggate, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6NU.