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The Wanch
Photograph: Courtesy Oliver Spiesshofer

Best places for live music in Hong Kong

These music venues bring Hong Kong’s sonic scene to the next level

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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After a few long months, live music is back! With the newest regulations on social distancing, music fans are now able to return to their favourite bars and enjoy live performances, drink in hand. Hong Kong’s music scene has grown steadily stronger over the years, and there’s never been a better time to support the local scene, helping them bounce back from a long, hard fought period of uncertainty. 

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 a 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: Looking for a killer playlist rather than a live show? Check out this list of bars and restaurants that play the best music in Hong Kong.

Best places for live music in Hong Kong

  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

The Aftermath is not just a bar but rather a community for artists to explore their craft. It showcases a curated live music programme of independent local bands with the occasional night of comedy and cabaret thrown in. Paired with draft beers – including a constant lineup of artisanal craft beers – The Aftermath is a perfect place for those looking for a chilled night out with friends.

  • Restaurants
  • Tsim Sha Tsui

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 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.

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  • Music
  • Central

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 feelings about the place when it first opened, it’s since lifted its members-only policy and established itself as 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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Tsim Sha Tsui

As the name suggests, Dada Bar and Lounge embodies the artistic anarchy and whimsical flair of the Dadaism art movement. With bizarrely hip décor that makes you feel like you have stepped into a world entirely removed from the dense, neon-lit vibe of Hong Kong, the bar hosts live music gigs every weekend. Although no music will be played here until a little later in the summer, when the gigs do come, they usually feature independent jazz bands, taking the theatrical atmosphere of the place to a whole new level.

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  • Music
  • Cocktail bars
  • Wan Chai

Dusk till dawn only starts to light up after midnight as the noise from other bars starts to wind down. By one in the morning it's packed and pulsating with a frenetic energy, thanks to its in-house live band. With all its members hailing from the Philippines, the band is rock-powerhouse, pumping out some of the best covers of hard rock classics for the better part of the night. The cocktails may seem a bit pricey, but that hardly deters the crowd which consists of locals, expats and tourists alike.

  • Attractions
  • Central

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 intermittent jazz events,  so head to the website to keep abreast of what’s coming up.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

There are numerous venues in town vying to capture the speakeasy cool that personified the Jazz Age and the sense of a night out being a real ‘event’, but few pull it off as well as effortlessly 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 they’re renowned for and are always top quality. 

  • Bars and pubs
  • Tai Kok Tsui

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.

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  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Sai Ying Pun

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.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Tsim Sha Tsui

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.

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  • Music
  • Soho

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 into the wee hours of the morning and we recommend getting in early and watching 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.

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  • Bars and pubs
  • Jordan

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.

Mad for music?

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