Hong Kong’s music scene has grown steadily stronger in recent years, not just in terms of the talent, but also the promoters and platforms dedicated to bringing these acts to those who will listen. While high rent and stringent regulations still make it difficult for the local indie circuit to be as big as, say, New York or London, there is an increasing number of live music venues that are giving a voice to the city’s finest performers. Whether it’s a classy cocktail bar like Foxglove that touts world-class jazz, a casual live house like Lost Stars that champions up-and-coming indie acts, or even boisterous bars like The Wanch and Ned Kelly’s that do classic rock and cheap beers, here are some of the best spots in town to catch a great live music show.
RECOMMENDED: From the biggest stars to the coolest indie acts, check out our list of the best concerts and gigs that are happening in Hong Kong.
Best places for live music in Hong Kong
1563 is a huge, luscious space in Wan Chai that offers regular music performances spanning all genres. The live house offers a relaxed dining experience and nightly gigs featuring our indie scene's best.
Aux, whose name refers to both the symbolic ‘aux cable’ and its address on Austin Road, combines a meats-based menu with original cocktails and some of the scene’s more underground DJs and bands. The venue is by the same team as hip Prince Edward watering hole Bound By Hillywood, so there’s a clear and deserved food-first focus going on here. Having said that, the space has already hosted a wide range of acts already, including the Red Stripes, Canto-city pop and funk DJ, Mansai, as well as Ni Ne Mo lead vocalist Tedman Lee.
Formerly Orange Peel – a cracking venue in its own right – this re-imagining hopes to establish BB as the premier jazz venue in town. Although we had mixed feeling about the place when it first opened, it’s since lifted its members-only policy and become one of Hong Kong’s most reliable venues to enjoy a good night of music. The heavily art deco-inspired venue hosts a jazzy happy hour with a resident band playing every night, as well as local and international jazz acts.
A hub for independent art performances, stand-up comedy shows and unique art exhibitions, the Fringe Club is known for its open platform, allowing anyone with creative materials to put on a show. The bar at the rooftop garden also makes the perfect getaway from all the hustle and bustle to enjoy some nibbles and a drink or two. The venue hosts jazz events all the time so head to the website to keep abreast of what’s coming up.
There are numerous venues in town vying to capture the speakeasy cool that personifies the Jazz Age and the sense of a night out being a real ‘event’, but few pull it off as well as Foxglove. This spot hosts live events that run a gamut of genres, including Latino and world music, but it’s the jazz nights that are always top quality.
Hang around at this bar for long enough and you’ll probably pick up a bit of French, the venue proving popular with Hong Kong's Gallic contingent. You’ll also more than likely witness some amazingly intimate live jazz, with musicians performing up close to audiences on Gecko's live music nights.
It’s incredibly difficult to run a music-only venue and live houses these days often double as restaurants or bars, although they typically offer up great beats but lacklustre eats. Lost Stars, however, manages to impress as both a music venue and a restaurant, which is why it’s become such a popular hangout. Since opening, it’s already showcased a barrage of local acts, from singer-songwriter Mukzi to local boyband favourites Nowhere Boys.
The first venue of its kind in Hong Kong, the Music Room at Indonesian restaurant, Potato Head, is a not-so-hidden enclosure designed especially for audiophiles. Browse through the carefully curated selection of vinyl records or drop by during one of the DJ showcases featuring both Hong Kong and international talent.
A place with one of the best house bands in all Hong Kong, Ned Kelly’s has attained legendary status for it’s fun, no frills, unfussy atmosphere. With a live show that takes in a load of jazz and blues classics – presented with the kind of old-school flair that you don’t often see any more (you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a grown man play a tea pot as an instrument) – this is one of the best nights out you can have in Hong Kong.
Renowned as one of Hong Kong’s best live music venues, Peel Fresco has a constant stream of talented jazz musicians taking to the stage all the time. It also hosts many open jam sessions, which often turn into some of the most dynamic jazz nights around. The venue is open from 6pm into the wee hours of the morning and there are performances every day, except for two Mondays a month. Get in early and watch the action unfold.
A truly underground venue, this tiny venue (Sai Coeng means “small place” in Cantonese) champions indie music and other art and subculture events. Despite its hidden location, revealed only to those who have registered as members, Sai Coeng has already hosted popular acts such as So It Goes and The Prototyke Lab. If you’re serious about music, be sure to sign up for membership.
Elegant and high-end, this glamorous Central spot offers regular live jazz shows alongside latin, funk and other musical acts. The space has the feel of a members-only club without actually being one, so the general punter can mosey on in. It’s still quite posh though, so be sure to have your Sunday best on.
Named after Jean Cocteau’s novel Les Enfants Terribles, Terrible Baby is a bar-cum-listening-room concept that’s part of the rebranded Eaton HK hotel in Yau Ma Tei. The space also boasts the Music Room – a live music venue that supports local artists and hosts audio-visual projects.
Arguably Hong Kong’s most venerable live music institution – at least for the underground scene – Hidden Agenda was reborn in December 2016 as This Town Needs after it was forced to close and relocate for the third time. Now based in Yau Tong, TTN features not only the best in local and international rock, but also a decent selection of food and beverages throughout the day.
Self-proclaimed as Hong Kong’s longest running live music venue, this popular local bar and music club has been playing host to bands of all shapes and sizes, from across genres and origins, without fail every night since 1987. Rock out to classic tunes while enjoying cheap beers.
One of the city’s best (or worst) kept musical secrets. A barber’s shop by day, every Saturday, owner and live music fanatic Benky Chan opens the doors to this tiny space and turns it into a jazz bar with some of the city’s best musicians playing nose-to-nose with the small group of plucky music lovers that manage to (sometimes quite literally) squeeze in. Get there early if you want to see what all the fuss is about.