Particularly at night, Exeter’s town centre is a bustling hub of students and locals alike, all wanting to participate in a shared culture of food, drink and entertainment. Lots of restaurants and bars in particular seem to be catching on, introducing regular live music events to celebrate the abundance of local musical talent. Here’s your guide to some must-visit live music spots.
Artigiano Espresso and Wine Bar
A prime place for coffee and a cake during the day. Buzzing with life in the evening. Artigiano Espresso and Wine Bar, or ‘Arti’s’, is notorious not only for their two-for-£12 cocktails but also their vibrant live music scene. At the heart of the Exeter High Street, evenings at Arti’s draw people in with their array of wines, artisan beer and live music to accompany the experience. Whether it’s for a classy start to a night out or a romantic place for date-night drinks and entertainment, there’s nothing like a bit of music to get you in the mood.
The Artis line-up includes Jazz Monday and Live Music Thursday with performances from local acts, get the weekend started with Funky Friday DJ Lounge and discover hidden talent on Open Mic Night on Wednesday, Arti’s is sure to have an evening of music you can get on board with.
- Jazz Monday
- Open Mic Night Wednesday
- Live Music Thursday
- Funky Friday DJ Lounge
Circa 1924 really know how to pick their performers to complement the sophisticated vibe their venue exudes. With an enticing selection of house-infused gins and cocktails, a menu packed with locally sourced seasonal ingredients and an unmissable half-price Steak deal on a Wednesday, their inclination towards jazz, blues and soul music contributes to a cleverly crafted atmosphere of class and taste.
Not only do they have their own house band, The UpCrowd, Circa also have a range of solo and group acts every weekend, delivering a mix of original and cover music. They stress that despite hosting a range of different performers, they are all guaranteed to be “bloody great.”
- ‘Live Sessions @ Circa’ every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Coolings is a cocktail bar that’s also jumped on the live music wagon with a whole variety of themed music evenings. From live DJ nights and acoustic sets to open mic nights on every third Wednesday of the month, they’re embracing the Exeter music scene as a perfect accompaniment to their fun selection of fishbowls, aesthetically pleasing cocktails and creative shot flavours. Hidden away on Gandy Street, this cellar bar is one you must seek out. Keep your eye out on social media too as Coolings are frequently posting great discounts and offers. If their live music isn’t enough to lure you in, surely a £3 pint or £1 hot beverage will be enough to do it, and then the music once you get there will only be the cherry on top.
- Open Mic Night third Wednesday of every month
- Live music acts on Friday, followed by karaoke from 11pm
- Regular live DJs on Saturday
These guys pride themselves on their lovingly concocted cocktails and “epic Sunday Roast,” but they’re also another notable contributor to the live music emanating from Exeter’s independents on a Friday night. Not only do they nail the cosy, quirky vibe with their interior design and menu of classics with-a-modern-twist, their performers only add to the atmosphere. They’ve got a fantastic range of local acoustic acts who really build the Friday night mood, often with some well-selected covers that encourage audience participation. For those (probably a few drinks in!) wanting to claim the stage themselves, they also have open mic Thursdays providing prime opportunity to get people involved.
- Acoustic Gallery Exeter OPEN MIC on Thursday
- Friday Night Live Music
A Facebook reviewer commented that the “banging” milkshakes at Hubbox “bring all the boys to the yard.” However, despite being incredibly scrumptious, it’s not just the milkshakes. They’ve really been plugging their performers, with regulars such as Sadie Horler and Conscious Club that are clearly also bringing the boys to their yard. Having only re-opened this year after relocating, Hubbox is rocking its new location, new menu and rustic-loft-meets-American-diner aesthetic. Make sure you keep an eye on social media for the low down on delicious deals and specials, but also so you know the live music acts not to be missed!
A location rich in music culture, having hosted some legendary names in music such as Coldplay and Muse, the Cavern is a hotspot for live music performance. Located just off the cobbles of Gandy Street in its underground venue, Cavern has regular club nights as well as frequent performances by both well-known and up-and-coming alternative and indie bands. Club nights not to be missed include Magic Hatstand, a night of “the best in deep underground house” that happens roughly every other Friday and Cavern Indie Night on Saturdays that features Indie DJs and are sometimes opened with a live band.
- Magic Hatstand Fridays
- Cavern Indie Night Saturday
The Exeter Phoenix is another iconic venue not just for live music but also a wide range of theatre, art, film, educational events and club nights. Embraced by students, locals and visitors to the city alike, the venue offers a great location for musical performances by university societies, Exeter-born up-and-comers and touring artists. With a variety of different spaces, including some smaller, more intimate rooms, a fairylight-ensconced outdoor area, a main stage with the option for audiences to be standing or seated, the Phoenix is a versatile venue that is pumping life and opportunities into the Exeter live music scene. With its Café Bar offering an enticing range of food and drink from breakfast to evening drinks and its packed schedule of events, it’s definitely worth checking out.
- Regular Emerging Band Showcases
- Club Nights such as Ba Ba Boom Reggae Dance and Cirque du Soul
- Monthly Jazz Night with house jazz band followed by a jam session
Little Drop of Poison
Opened in 2018, Little Drop of Poison is a warm and welcoming pub on Fore Street. Praised for its large variety of drinks, including 32 taps of craft beer, real ales, lagers and ciders. If you are a beer enthusiast who also enjoys soaking up live music, then this is the place for you. The venue hosts weekly live music events from local bands and artists, from jazz to folk, and rock to soul, Little Drop of Poison guarantees a lively night out.
Widely acknowledged to be one of Exeter’s best ale and cider pubs, Old Firehouse is very popular with students and locals alike and offers a buzzy atmosphere alongside its famous giant pizzas. What’s even better, set in its candlelit, rustic interior, most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights you will find live music on the first of the pub’s three floors!
Be sure to try and make it to some of these venues to discover Exeter’s music scene as this is only a small selection of what Exeter has to offer. Visit our what’s on guide here for more!