The O2 Academy is Oxford’s biggest live venue: acts perform there most nights during term time. The varied line-up of indie bands and the occasional big name make up for the long queues and overpriced drinks.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, then Cellar is for you. Underground in more ways than one, it hosts everything from drum & bass nights to jazz bands and reggae artists, and at night it becomes Oxford’s best hipster haunt. It can feel a bit cramped on busy nights, but the bar is well-priced and it’s a mere five minute walk from most of the city centre colleges.
Legend has it that Radiohead gave their very first gig at the Jericho Tavern. It’s not difficult to see why: it’s an intimate venue which draws an enthusiastic crowd of students and locals alike. There’s upmarket food and real ales, and it’s a favourite with local bands.
Also based in the trendy district of Jericho in north Oxford is Freud’s, a bit of a chameleon. CafeÌ and restaurant by day, cocktail bar and live jazz venue by night, it’s the perfect place to relax with a drink after a long week of lectures and tutorials. Set in a cavernous converted church, the architecture is stunning too.
If classical music is your thing then the Sheldonian Theatre is a must. It hosts concerts by professional orchestras as well as student ensembles such as OUO (Oxford University Orchestra). Nearby, the Holywell Music Room is the oldest concert hall in the UK, where there are regular chamber music concerts and solo recitals.
Many a student band has given their debut at The Art Bar (formerly The Bullingdon). As well as supporting student and local bands, the venue is part of the indie touring circuit. At about twenty minutes out of town, it’s not particularly central, but definitely worth the walk for the bands on offer.