From the street, The Castle Hotel may look like your average boozer but venture past the bar into the back room and you’ll discover one of the most intimate venues in Manchester. The double-height ceiling perfectly frames the small stage that has played host to the likes of Mercury-Prize winners Alt-J and many other bands that have gone on to play much larger venues. You’re just as likely to stumble across a local folk night with everyone sat on the floor and fairy-lights strung above the stage as you are to discover a tightly packed crowd jumping around to guitar music.
The Castle Hotel, 66 Oldham St, Manchester, +44 61 237 9485
Located right across the street from the Castle, Gullivers has a larger room for live music located on its first floor. The downstairs bar and snug are always packed with music-lovers on the night of a gig, and several independent festivals include the traditional pub as one of their venues. Touring bands, local musicians and experimental artists all perform here regularly, with a gig occurring most nights of the week.
Gullivers, 109 Oldham St, Manchester, +44 161 819 2970
Another Northern Quarter venue, Soup Kitchen sits on the corner of Stevenson Square, tempting in passers-by to its upstairs bar and canteen. However, its downstairs in the somewhat dingy basement that lively, packed out gigs are common place. This is the place to discover the latest hyped band with the promoters having a keen eye for spotting the next big thing. It’s cold, grimy and the concrete floor will make your feet ache – but you’ll forget all of that when you’re dancing around and enjoying the music.
Soup Kitchen, 31-33 Spear St, Manchester, +44 161 236 5100