Wellington Scoop

Music during and after lockdown

by Helen Schaufeld
If like me you’ve been struggling with the boredom of level 2, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have put together a list of the best Wellington venues with live music during and after lockdown.

I found a range of venues from a quirky microbrewery hosting jazz sessions to a large club hosting local techno DJs. What’s certain is that Wellington has many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. I was struck by the number of new bands waiting to debut, once level 2 restrictions are lifted.

1. The Rogue & Vagabond.
Attention jazz lovers, the quirky Rogue & Vagabond is hosting a jazz evening every Sunday from 5pm. The dog friendly bar – just off Cuba Street on Glover Park – provides a chill atmosphere. I was struck by the colourful artwork covering the walls and a great selection of craft beers. On my visit I found the staff to be incredibly friendly, showing just as much excitement about the gig line up as me. Upcoming Sunday acts will include Dave Wilson and his quintet exploring modal jazz and bebop on the 27th September 27 and the Sam Mackenzie Quartet paying homage to great jazz tradition on September 20. The Rogue & Vagabond is the perfect venue to relax with friends on a Sunday evening.

2. San Fran.
Interested in a venue that has a vibrant dance club feel? Look no further. Dubbed as one of the coolest places in Wellington, San Fran at 171 Cuba Street is open five nights a week and hosts great local and international bands and DJs. I particularly enjoyed the balcony overlooking Cuba Street, as it was a good spot to meet people and grab some air. When looking for somewhere to spend Saturday night, San Fran’s lively atmosphere is guaranteed to keep you entertained. Upcoming events range from a local band named Dartz on Saturday September 19 – who are bringing the punk party to Cuba Street – and the Ultimate Disc Jockey Championship on Saturday October 3. This evening will consist of nine top Techno and House DJs brought together to provide a night of musical madness. Depending on the return of Level One, Devilskin are booked for a rescheduled show on October 8, supporting their new album.

3. Meow.
If you are looking to hear a wide range of bands with different styles, hidden on a corner at 9 Edward Street is the ever popular Meow. Like San Fran, I appreciated its high-quality sound system. This compact venue, which has had limited seating during Level Two, is preparing to host some of the largest acts that are touring New Zealand. On October the 3rd, Manchester MC Aitch will be headlining at Meow. On October 14th it is featuring unorthodox Jazz band The Devils’ Gate Outfit. Meow remains unique in its retro aesthetic, and maintains its reputation as full of character and at the forefront of music trends.

4. Moon 1.
Newtown’s finest (and only) live music venue is a must for those looking for music legends in relaxed surroundings. A short five minute drive from the city centre, Moon 1 (on Riddiford Street) provides a spacious and laidback setting for experimental music. You can enjoy debut DJs while choosing from an incredible beer selection. Every Friday, Good Taste Selector DJs play from 5pm, with a $5 band from 9pm. Saturdays mean the Creep Records DJs will be on stage by 6pm. Towards the end of this month, the venue is starting to host back to back album release gigs. On September the 25th, Auckland based Nigerian rapper and producer Mazbou Q-Friday brings his 2020 Icon Status tour. Continuing this trend, on Friday 2nd October Diggy Dupe headlines his album release show titled ‘That’s Me, That’s Team’. He was a finalist for Best Hip Hop Act at the 2019 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards (alongside Avondale Bowling Club’s Tom Scott and Church & AP), for his 2018 EP Island Time. Though Moon 1 may be an alternative indie bar, it provides music that can appreciated by all.

5. Third Eye.
Third Eye, mostly known amongst beer connoisseurs, is also becoming known for its Sunday jazz sessions. The in-house microbrewery is in a 1906 building at 30 Arthur Street, just off the top of Cuba Street. You’ll notice its cool architecture and industrial décor. This is a great spot to take my music loving friends. Every week, WJC features a different house band, performing different jazz artists’ compositions and music – and musicians are invited to bring tunes by that artist to share and play. The Sunday jazz session takes place downstairs from 2-4pm and is one of Wellington’s hidden gems in terms of live music.

Helen Schaufeld has been living in Wellington for eight months after moving here from England.


  1. Dave B (Wellington), 14. September 2020, 10:40

    Don’t forget the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and our very-own Orchestra Wellington. They perform live music too.

  2. Groggy, 14. September 2020, 11:05

    You missed one of the oldest and best venues in town, with far and away the best sound mix. Valhalla! While it is renowned for catering to the heavier end of the rock spectrum, it delivers an eclectic mix of bands and DJs seven days a week. With any luck we may be able to get up and dance again from midday 🙂

  3. Kay, 14. September 2020, 20:26

    Second the salute to Valhalla Bar. I’m older and have tinnitus and really appreciate a venue and crowd that respects music. Some of the venues above have crowds who’d rather hold loud conversations than listen to the music. A real buzz kill.

  4. Andrew, 14. September 2020, 20:42

    The Third Eye is closing in November so get down there while you can.