Music & Nightlife

Discover the best of Singapore's nightlife, including bars, pubs, clubs, DJ gigs and live music

Things to Do

The definitive guide to New Year's Eve parties

Our round-up on where to usher in 2015, everything from rooftop bars to clubs and beaches

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Bars and pubs

Best speakeasies

Push past these unmarked doors for the hottest drinks in town

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Music

Interview: Gareth Fernandez

The boy's got soul

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Five rum-focused bars

Move over gin, it’s rum’s turn to shine

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Interview: Jeremy Chua of 28HKS

A chat with the 24-year-old head bartender

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Live music events

Music

Celebrate December

Make your way to the bay for two weeks of free gigs. String quartet VOX bring their classical covers of modern tunes (including a few jingle bells) to the waterfront on 20 December, and Gareth Fernandez and The Momma Shop belt out their soulful tracks on the same stage a week after. Or just take a stroll around the Esplanade to check out the other fringe activities – such as craft workshops – that are also part of the festivities.

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Jay Chou: OPUS 2

The king of Mandopop finally makes it here for his OPUS 2 concert after its postponement. A continuation of his last performance here – only bigger and better – the outdoor gig features spectacular lights, dynamic dancers and his trademark R&B tunes. Just hold on to your original tickets for this concert.

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Music

Gareth Fernandez and The Momma Shop

Young soul sensation Gareth Fernandez and his dapper quartet, The Momma Shop, will strut their sultry brand of R&B in three sets at this outdoor gig. Expect a mix of covers and originals, and a few surprise cameos.

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St Jerome's Laneway Festival Singapore 2015

The St Jerome's Laneway Festival returns for its fifth year in January 2015 featuring a star-studded line-up, taking most of its bulk from the Australian one, with eccentric songstress St Vincent, Swedish kooky songwriter Lykke Li and indie's well-kept treasure Little Dragon among the top picks. Plus, there's American sweetheart BANKS, British post-punk five piece Eagulls, psychedelic rock band POND, American synthpop outfit Future Islands, rising Australian dead-pan artist Courtney Barnett,  Canadian indie rocker Mac DeMarco (and Agnes, his mum), Mercury-nominated FKA Twigs,  bass-heavy rock duo Royal Blood, Scottish noisemaker Rustie and funk-soul music makers Jungle to look out for. And don't forget Australian folk act Angus and Julia Stone, as well as up-and-coming electronic producer Chet Faker, making the discrening difference between the line-ups, playing at Gardens by the Bay exclusively for the Singapore leg. And flying the flag high for South-East Asia are local acts angle-voiced .gif and folk band Hanging Up The Moon, as well as experimental electronica duo Pastel Lite and space-influenced Enterprise from Malaysia. Can't wait!

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Club nights and DJ gigs

Music

Celebrate December

Make your way to the bay for two weeks of free gigs. String quartet VOX bring their classical covers of modern tunes (including a few jingle bells) to the waterfront on 20 December, and Gareth Fernandez and The Momma Shop belt out their soulful tracks on the same stage a week after. Or just take a stroll around the Esplanade to check out the other fringe activities – such as craft workshops – that are also part of the festivities.

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Nightlife

1-Altitude & Altimate Christmas

This swanky all-white rooftop soiree rings in Christmas with sophisticated grooves and festive cocktails like the white chocolate martini and the 1-Altitude snowball.

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Things to Do

New Year’s Eve Rooftop Countdown Party at Catalunya

Let your eyes glide over the calm waters of the bay at Catalunya’s rooftop countdown party – expect front row seats to the vibrant showcase of fireworks as you nosh on Spanish bites.

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Nightlife

Kyo Masquerade New Year’s Eve

Enter into a night filled with mystery and masks at this underground party, which features James Ford and Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco spinning a DJ set. Godwin Pereira supports. 

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Nightlife

The Fantasy Countdown

Step into a night of enchantment and mystery at Zouk’s fantasy countdown, where you’ll find yourself floating off on new dreams as soon as the clock strikes 12. Leading the charge into the new year is Dutch DJ Quintino, who will be unleashing a psychedelic explosion of beats alongside resident Hong. 

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Nightlife

Glitterati New Year’s Countdown Extravaganza 2015

It’s nothing but glitz and glamour at KDT this New Year’s Eve, so get dressed in your sparkly best and ready those glasses of bubbly to toast to a great year ahead. With the glittering fireworks in the backdrop, you’ll be dancing to catchy Top 40s tunes spun by resident DJs Ya5th, Suren and Styluxtakut. 

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Best new bars and clubs

Bars and pubs

D.Bespoke

Continuing Singapore’s ardour for made-in-Japan brands and talent, bartender Daiki Kanetaka pens a love letter to tipple sippers here with his handsome new Ginza-style bar that delivers a rarified cocktail experience to swoon over. D.Bespoke – the ‘D’ is a reference to Kanetaka’s first name, but it comes across as pseudo-French – is almost like a reprise of the exclusive Glen and Glen Classic bars in Beijing for which Kanetaka’s exalted (he’s opening another one in Jakarta soon). Singapore is his new home; he says he’s here to stay, and will only visit his Beijing bars a few days each month to keep tabs on things. Enter the 28-seater shophouse speakeasy from a lifestyle retail front selling some of the bar’s glassware, leather products and, oddly, a fixie. Inside, Kanetaka replicates the wood-clad long bars of his other establishments, with 14 bar-side bearish leather armchairs and seats for another 14 on plump chesterfield loungers. The mid- and top-shelf liquors are tastefully spaced out and never stacked two deep on a bar shelf that spans the wall, and at the far end perches a stretched leg of Jamon Iberico de Bellota ($40), shaved in glossy strips to order. This is by no means an everyday bar. With 16 years’ experience in the strict Japanese bar system, Kanetaka counts Japanese legend Hidetsugu Ueno a mentor. He’s devoted two years – including a four month stay in Jerez – to get his sherry sommelier-like venenciador certification, and has spent time at the Ardbeg and G

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Bars and pubs

Southbridge

Not everyone can quite suppress that involuntary ‘wow’ that emerges from their mouths when they get up here – this is the Singapore River from and all-new angle. Placed on the South Bridge Road end of the Boat Quay stretch, this outdoor bar that has surfaced on a shophouse rooftop overwhelms the eyes with an unobstructed panorama of the Parliament buildings, skyscraper columns, Marina Bay Sands, and even the top half of the Flyer. Finding it, though, will be your first challenge. Disregard its Boat Quay address and look for the illuminated lobby in the alleyway along South Bridge Road to take the glass-cased lift up to the fifth-floor perch. The partially sheltered outdoor bar seats 36 and has standing room for double that number around its built-up kitchen and bar – though if you’re tallish and have a penchant to throw shapes after a few drinks, give the alarmingly short surrounding walls a wide berth. Where Southbridge earns points for its vantage point, it loses for the food. For a kitchen run by il Lido group honcho Beppe De Vito, we certainly didn’t expect an almost tasteless lobster knuckle roll ($28) among the seafood snack options. The oyster angle is played out six ways hot ($30/six) and cold ($20/six at happy hour, $24/six after 8pm), with dressings like ponzu in the umami version, mint cucumber and vermouth in the habana, and smoked bacon and cheese in the smoky casino. The bivalves are from New Zealand, and will occasionally include a selection of rarer F

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Bars and pubs

Hopscotch

Fans of drinks with a local touch (think chilli crab cocktails) at Mars Bar at the Duxton Hotel will find plenty to love at Red Dot Traffic Building’s new pop-up watering hole, Hopscotch. Open until next October, the unassuming space (where Artery bar used to be) pays homage to nostalgic Singaporean flavours with its retro-sounding name. The cocktails, crafted by Joel De Win and former Bar Stories barkeep Kino Soh, feature ingredients familiar to the local palate. One standout is the rich Golden 933 ($21), which uses cereal butter fat-washed rum and curry leaves to come across as a sippable version of cereal butter prawns. Another winner, the Kopi Stout ($22) fashions kopitiam breakfast favourites – robust local coffee and savoury Bovril – into a super-smooth rum-stout concoction with a lingering saline kick. Hopscotch has also updated classics such as the Singapore Sling No. 6 ($22) – its version includes housemade pomegranate syrup instead of the usual additive-filled grenadine. For non-drinkers, there’s also a good selection of alcohol-free sips such as Key Lime Pie ($9), a mix of vanilla, calamansi and homemade lemon curd. It’s a nice detail to ensure designated drivers don’t feel left out. Our one gripe is that there’s no menu of bar bites. But most drinks come with a thoughtful accompanying local snack. The Golden 933 is paired with prawn crackers, the Kopi Stout comes with nostalgic white rabbit candies or gem biscuits, and the Fortune Kaya Flip ($21) – rum, pandan

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Restaurants

Potato Head Folk

Yes, it's another high-end cocktail bar in Chinatown, but don't start yawning yet. From surreal eye candy to a rollicking soundtrack breezing between classic rock and Motown funk, Keong Saik newcomer Potato Head Folk nails the flippant, friendly vibe they boast at their Seminyak, Bali location – easily one of South-East Asia’s trendiest bars. Oh yeah, the drinks are pretty special, too. As we’ve seen in other ballyhooed cocktail lounges in town, slick branding or a big name doesn’t guarantee that things will be done right, but Potato Head Folk manages it with fun and flamboyance, even while juggling split personalities: burger joint Three Buns occupies the first two floors, artsy cocktail club Studio 1939 is nestled on the third, and a twinkle-lit tiki bar operates on the building’s lovely open-air rooftop. Studio 1939 is located halfway up a winding checkered staircase decked out with vintage knick-knacks and slightly sinister motifs of sailor boys and fairytale figures, a fantastical concept inspired by the Boy’s Own series from Australian artist and the Folks’ design consultant David Bromley. Classy and cool without a hint of pretentiousness, this third-floor bar is the highlight of this lovingly-restored shophouse. Plush chesterfields, vintage rattan furnishings, and wooden flooring lend easy, effortless style to the dimly lit, high-ceilinged room, and the semi-circular marble bar gives a sense of both space and intimacy. There are 20 hand-crafted cocktails and a range of

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Bars and pubs

Operation Dagger

Despite its tiny basement space, this underground cocktail bar packs an impressive punch. Staffed by Oxwell & Co’s Luke Whearty and Aki Nishikura, plus Yijun Juan (formerly of Ding Dong), it looks like a cross between an Aesop and Scandinavian furniture store, thanks to a wall full of brown bottles and an impressive 6,000- bulb light cloud installation (which the team hung up orb by orb). To find it, seek out the glass door with a curious rectangle and upside-down crown scrawled on its lintel – for those in the know, it’s a symbol used in hobo code (loosely meaning ‘hassle us and we’ll give you something to go away’), a motif that plays throughout the venue – then bravely descend down the dingy staircase. Inside, you'll find that the trio are happier to feed you curious concoctions to coerce you to stay and challenge your drink preferences. There’s an emphasis on experimentation, much of which is done in the ‘cage’ at one end of the bar. Look out for limited runs of ‘dangerous water’ (another hobo term) creations such as house-made meads, infused spirits and a weekly bottled cocktail ($18) – during our visit, it was a special fizzy cocktail fermented with champagne yeast, which yielded a sweet apple pie-like flavour. The menu currently offers only five cocktails (though they’re hoping to expand this to at least ten or 15) ranging from $20-$25. Each drink lists its ingredients, but not the spirits in play – ‘we want to get people to think outside the box, and not have t

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Nightlife

CANVAS

It was truly the end of an era when our beloved, decade-old Home Club announced its closure earlier this year – many hearts were broken and countless waxed nostalgic about the good times and great music at the iconic riverside venue. But as one door closes, another opens, with Home Club owner Roy Ng announcing its evolution into a new multi-purpose concept space: CANVAS. Originating as a collaboration between Ng and Mahen Nathan (a partner at BED Concepts, which is launching CANVAS in Bangkok as well), the pair got to talking about a year ago when they realised they shared similar philosophies and ideals when it came to art, entertainment and nightlife – CANVAS was birthed as a result of boosting and balancing the individual strengths of Home Club and BED Concepts. ‘The crowd in Singapore is becoming more discerning; they’re always looking for new experiences,’ Nathan explains. ‘By providing a creative melting pot where art, music and lifestyle converge, we can cater to their needs, as this has never been done in Singapore before.’ Stepping away from Home Club’s dark and edgy vibe, CANVAS is like the grown-up version that boasts a mellowed sophistication, with a more refined eclecticism than its predecessor. Expect the space to be a beautifully quirky one – a platform for artists to showcase their music and art, a spot for creative minds and party-goers to mix, and a setting where it all blends together smoothly. As Nathan puts it succinctly, ‘art is the main feature and mu

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