People inside Manning Bar, circa 70s.

A history of live music at Manning Bar

The artists that have played here might surprise you 

From INXS to Tame Impala, Manning Bar has attracted scores of homegrown talent in its 50-year history. Here’s a look at Manning’s rich musical history and what’s to come for the iconic university bar.

Manning Bar has attracted scores of great Australian musical talent in its almost 50-year history, including Paul Kelly (1979), INXS (1980), Gotye (2007), Tame Impala (2009), and Violent Soho (2014). Big international names, including The Black Keys (2008), Foo Fighters (2011), and Machine Gun Kelly (2013), have also graced Manning's stage. 

Opened in 1974, Manning Bar has remained a key entry point for local music artists, most notably helping launch new bands through their Battle of the Bands competition. The competition, a staple in the University calendar, has helped kickstart the music careers of well-known Australian artists Cloud Control (Winners 2006) and The Jezabels (Finalists 2007).  

Today, Manning continues to fulfil students love of live music, hosting international and local acts from a diverse range of genres including hip hop (Stormzy and Freddie Gibbs), punk (Dead Kennedys and NOFX) and indie pop (San Cisco and The Rubens), as well as the inaugural Heaps Gay Mardi Gra After Party which takes over all levels of Manning House. 

Manning also remains a key venue for bringing some of Australia’s best talent together, most recently announcing they’ll host the USU’s brand-new music festival Someday Soon. The festival will bring together a host of incredible Australian artists, including Methyl Ethel, Ruby Fields and Holy Holy.  

Members of Icehouse (formally Flowers) band

Icehouse. Photograph: Public Domain

Where it all began 

The first known concert at Manning Bar was played by Icehouse (formally Flowers) on Friday 4 August 1978. The little-known rock band from Sydney, formed in 1977, then went on to hit the Australian Top 10 in 1980 for their debut single “Can’t Help Myself”, tour the UK, Canada and U.S. in 1981, and release eight albums between 1980 and 1995. Australian artists Paul Kelly (formally Paul Kelly and The Dots) and INXS followed soon after, playing at Manning Bar in 1979 and 1980 respectively. 

Beastie Boys (under the stage name Quasar), an American rap rock group formed in 1981, was the first known international act to play at Manning Bar on 26 January 1997. Their set-list featured original songs, including ‘Time for Livin’ and ‘Heart Attack Man’, as well as covers from The Ramones and Billy Joel. Millencolin, a Swedish punk rock band formed in 1992, followed the same year on 18 October. 

In 2009, Tame Impala and The Cat Empire would play at Manning Bar, hosting intimate shows before skyrocketing to success some years later. Tame Impala’s show at Manning, part of their ‘Sundown Syndrome Launch Tour’, was supported by Jonathan Boulet and former Battle of the Bands winners The Laurels.  

Concert at Manning Bar

Concert at Manning Bar

What’s next for Manning?  

Most recently, Manning House has announced it will host the USU’s brand-new music festival, Someday Soon, on Saturday 15 October 2022.

The festival will feature multi-level bars, food trucks, and three stages stacked with over 20 local artists, including The Lazy EyesGlass Beams and Hermitutde (DJ set).

Second release tickets for Someday Soon are available now, starting at $56.10 for students and $51.00 for USU members. 

Follow Manning Bar on Instagram to keep up to date with the latest news, show alerts, and ticket drops, and listen to our Manning throwback playlist on Spotify.

13 September 2022

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