Music & Nightlife

Your guide to the best bars and clubs, live music, concerts and DJ gigs in KL

The best gigs and parties in KL this week
Music

The best gigs and parties in KL this week

Whether you’re an avid music fan or just need a live music fix, we have you covered. This week's picks includes a double release party with Elmu Hisab and Crack Guilty, an intimate gig at klpac and a dance party with Rainbow Rojak. 

Best live music venues in KL
Music

Best live music venues in KL

Indie rock, acoustic folk, jazz – think you can’t find them in KL? These top live music venues play all that and more.

Interview: Killeur Calculateur
Music

Interview: Killeur Calculateur

‘Too hardcore for indie kids, too indie for hardcore kids!’ exclaims Smek on the band’s crossover appeal. Unlike other punk bands in the city, Killeur Calculateur have carved out an audience many bands can only dream of, with just enough street cred to be taking the stage at Rumah Api one night, and hip enough to be playing at Good Vibes Festival on another. Formed in 2006, Killeur Calculateur consist of Smek and Rafique on guitars, Zamir playing the bass and Ali Johan (better known as Alijo) on drums. They’re known for their unique sound, a smorgasbord of influences from post-punk, emo and post-hardcore. We spoke to the band about their songwriting process, changes in the scene and more. How did you guys start?Smek: Back then we were just hanging out in Asia Café Subang and thought, ‘Hey, let’s form a band’. At the time, Alijo wasn’t in the band yet. We had different band member, Rafique was on drums and Zamir was playing the bass.  And later after we released our demo we played a few shows, then the other guy who played guitar left. So Alijo came in to play the drums and Rafique moved to guitar. There was a gap between your last album, ‘Book of Flags’ and your debut EP, ‘Valley of the Dead’. Why was that?S: We wanted to make a full-length album, and albums take a long time to make. We also like to take a lot of time to work on the songs. Besides, when we presented them to our producer Ham Abdullah from Seven Collar T-Shirt he reworked them again. So yes, the recording pr

Now open: Jack Rose
Bars and pubs

Now open: Jack Rose

The past year has seen a flurry of cocktail bars opening around KL, each of them trying to outdo the last in terms of bar design uniqueness or their drinks menu. The latest cocktail bar to open in the city, Jack Rose, is a worthy competitor.

Guide to Irish whiskey
Bars and pubs

Guide to Irish whiskey

There’s more to Irish whiskey than being spelt with an ‘e’.While Irish whiskey and Scotch share a similar history, each has evolved to develop its own characteristics. For starters, Irish distillers don’t use peat to malt the barley – ‘We tend to use our peat for more important things, like keeping our houses warm,’ said Kieran – resulting in an all-round pleasing whiskey. Scotch, particularly those from the Islay and Campbeltown, take pride in their peat-smoked aroma and flavour that hit you the second the drink is poured. Irish whiskeys are distilled differently from Scotch.Popular Irish whiskeys like Jameson use a combination of malted and unmalted barley, as opposed to the Scottish malt whiskies, which is made from 100 percent malted barley. ‘The reason for this is not about taste, but surprise, surprise, taxes,’ said Kieran. ‘When Ireland was a British colony, they put a tax on malted barley, so to pay less tax, we use a portion of unmalted barley.’ As an unintended result, most Irish whiskeys have a bright, spicy freshness contributed by the unmalted barley. Irish whiskeys are also triple-distilled – as opposed to Scotches, which are commonly twice-distilled – resulting in what the Irish say is a smoother dram. Geography has little influence over taste.Unlike Scotch, the whiskeys produced across the Irish provinces of Ulster, Munster and Leinster don’t carry a distinctive taste attached to a particular place. ‘In Ireland, each distillery will make three to four types

The best gigs in KL this week

Iqbal M x  The Venopian Solitude di ATAS
Music

Iqbal M x The Venopian Solitude di ATAS

The Venopian Solitude and Iqbal M will be sharing the stage for a special intimate gig. Led by Takahara Suiko, The Venopian Solitude are an indie band that experiments with various sounds and unorthodox songwriting techniques, while Iqbal M are an alternative rock band known for their humourous stage presence and rowdy shows.  

Intim Sessions
Music

Intim Sessions

Get up close and personal with some of Malaysia’s rising talents at Intim Sessions by klpac. This edition presents Amrita Soon, who's performed at various songwriter nights in Nashville, Tennessee performing alongside Ella Mae Bowen and Lance Carpenter. Beverly Matujal will also be gracing the stage with material from her EP 'Echoes', set to release in late August.

Rainbow Rojak presents
Nightlife

Rainbow Rojak presents

Rainbow Rojak - one of KL's longest-running and most popular queer nights - presents 'Indepondance'. DJs JK, Nine, Evilecktrik, Haus of RN provide the entertainment of the night. Expect a performance from Kumela Kumslut too.    

Crack Guilty and Elmu Hisab Release Party
Music

Crack Guilty and Elmu Hisab Release Party

It's a punk rock party with Menora Recordings on Sunday as they celebrate the release of Crack Guilty's Headfirst EP and Elmu Hisab's ADEMONSTRATION at The Bee. Crack Guilty's known for their combination of hardcore punk and '90s rock, while Elmu Hisab are more experimental, dabbling in various genres from industrial rock to noise rock.

See more gigs and music events in KL

New bars in KL

Jack Rose
Bars and pubs

Jack Rose

The past year has seen a flurry of cocktail bars opening around KL, each of them trying to outdo the last in terms of bar design uniqueness or their drinks menu. The latest cocktail bar to open in the city, Jack Rose, is a worthy competitor. Run by Callan Green and James Estes – who both have a combined 30 years of experience in the bar and service industry – Jack Rose is Bukit Damansara’s newest secret. While it isn’t exactly a speakeasy, it may as well be considering how hidden the place is. Located on the basement floor of Wisma M&H, Jack Rose is a safe space from the rushing MRT commuters and hordes of HELP students above. The interior is kept simple. There’s no need for any over-the-top designs or gimmicks here, just a wooden bar counter, wooden tables and checkerboard floors. Also, there might not be a DJ at the bar but the music you’ll hear is good enough. Jack Rose keeps it old school by playing records on a record player. They come from Callan’s personal collection and range from old school hip hop to disco tunes. Customers are welcome to bring their own records to play here too. Jack Rose (the cocktail) has had a long history. It was invented in the early 20th century and started becoming popular in the 1920s and 1930s – so much so that it was mentioned in Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 classic, ‘The Sun Also Rises’. The literary allusion in naming the bar wasn’t an accident; in fact, a skim through their menu and you’d notice that the cocktails here are named for liter

Pahit
Bars and pubs

Pahit

Taking over Barlai’s old spot at Sekeping Sin Chew Kee is Pahit, the latest specialist bar to open in KL. Run by CK – the brains behind popular Bangsar watering hole Coley – Pahit specialises in all things gin, from gin-based cocktails to the classic gin and tonics. The bar is hidden between two busy roads – Jalan Hang Jebat and Jalan Pudu – notorious for their never-ending traffic jams, a place one would never expect such a calm and quiet bar to exist. It’s located along a quiet row of old houses which date back to the 1920s; this location along with a small courtyard decked out with rattan chairs and short tables provide a quaintly charm; a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the city without having to travel too far. Perfect for after-work drinks. If you’re a fan of gin, you might have a tough time deciding which gin to choose. The menu boasts an impressive list of gins from all over the world. For beginners who might find gin slightly too bitter, we recommend one of the fruit-infused G&Ts; the lychee and ginger flower version in particular. The lychee gives the drink a refreshing sweetness, which is balanced wonderfully with the spice of the ginger flower. For cocktails, go for the house specialty, Gin Pahit #2 – the bar’s take of the classic cocktail Pink Gin. It’s a mix of London dry gin, orange bitters, lime and their own homemade falernum syrup, resulting in a bitter cocktail similar to the original, but with a hint of sweetness to make it more palatable for

MAZE
Bars and pubs

MAZE

MAZE is the latest addition to KL’s long list of specialist bars. What distinguishes MAZE from the rest is that they are probably the only gin bar on that list. Recently opened in Menara Lien Ho in Tropicana, they aren’t just a gin bar, but a coffee saloon too – they serve coffee in the day and switch to gin when night falls. The opulent decor is reminiscent of a Hollywood set of a mob boss’ mansion, which makes for an interesting setting to have coffee with friends. At night, the place transforms into a lounge by way of dim lights and loud music while the tall red drapes give a bit of a seedy French cabaret feel to the space. The highlight of MAZE is the selection of gin they have on offer. They boast a collection of over 150 imported craft gins – probably the largest in the country. If you’re new to gin, you should know that cucumber isn’t the only garnish to pair your gin and tonic with. Here, you can purchase the services of a ‘gin sum’ cart (similar to a dim sum cart) where you can test your gin and tonic with all sorts of fresh garnish like blackberry, watermelon and many more. Apart from that, the gin-based cocktails here are good. We particularly enjoyed ‘The Reviver’ – a refreshing and smooth fruity cocktail made up of Gordon’s gin, homemade elderflower syrup, lime juice and sugar syrup. If you have room for dessert (always make room for dessert), try the lychee watermelon cake. Inspired by the famous Sydney bakery Black Star Pastry, MAZE’s version of the cake is

JungleBird
Bars and pubs

JungleBird

You might notice the growing number of specialist bars around KL, from whiskey to wine. However, one that you won’t see many of is a rum bar. Recently opened in Bukit Damansara, Jungle Bird claims to be a ‘Rumah Rum’. Its design is unique in that it didn’t adopt the clichéd tiki bar blueprint often associated with rum. Instead, Jungle Bird, like its namesake cocktail, stays true to its Malaysian roots. The interior is decorated with bamboo stilts and rattan furniture, while the wallpaper carries a leafy motif, giving the place a familiar tropical and resort vibe. What you come here for is obvious – the Jungle Bird cocktail. Here’s a free history lesson (you’re welcome): In the 1970s, the Jungle Bird was invented at the Aviary Bar in the old Hilton KL (when it was located at Jalan Sultan Ismail). The version here offers a refreshing respite from our city’s heat. It also looks like an actual jungle bird, with pineapple leaves sticking out of the glass. If you’re not a fan of fancy cocktails, we recommend the Rum Old Fashioned – the cocktail makes use of house-made chocolate cardamom bitters, which imparts the cocktail with a slight spiciness. Jungle Bird doesn’t have a kitchen so it doesn’t serve food. But you’re more than welcome to bring your own if you want to have a meal with your cocktail.

Latest music interviews

Killeur Calculateur
Music

Killeur Calculateur

‘Too hardcore for indie kids, too indie for hardcore kids!’ exclaims Smek on the band’s crossover appeal. Unlike other punk bands in the city, Killeur Calculateur have carved out an audience many bands can only dream of, with just enough street cred to be taking the stage at Rumah Api one night, and hip enough to be playing at Good Vibes Festival on another. Formed in 2006, Killeur Calculateur consist of Smek and Rafique on guitars, Zamir playing the bass and Ali Johan (better known as Alijo) on drums. They’re known for their unique sound, a smorgasbord of influences from post-punk, emo and post-hardcore. We spoke to the band about their songwriting process, changes in the scene and more. How did you guys start?Smek: Back then we were just hanging out in Asia Café Subang and thought, ‘Hey, let’s form a band’. At the time, Alijo wasn’t in the band yet. We had different band member, Rafique was on drums and Zamir was playing the bass.  And later after we released our demo we played a few shows, then the other guy who played guitar left. So Alijo came in to play the drums and Rafique moved to guitar. There was a gap between your last album, ‘Book of Flags’ and your debut EP, ‘Valley of the Dead’. Why was that?S: We wanted to make a full-length album, and albums take a long time to make. We also like to take a lot of time to work on the songs. Besides, when we presented them to our producer Ham Abdullah from Seven Collar T-Shirt he reworked them again. So yes, the recording pr

Airliftz
Music

Airliftz

Airliftz is an internet sensation. The 19-year-old rapper has gained thousands of views on YouTube and has gotten similar numbers on Twitter with the freestyles he posts. In any case, Airliftz embodies everything about music these days – if you’re good on the internet, most likely you’ll make it IRL too. Ahead of his show at Good Vibes Festival, we spoke to the rapper about his foray into rap, his latest EP ‘BAGEL’ and more. You go by Airliftz now. But your rap name used to be Phaze right?Before Phaze, I was Lil Mooks because I was chubby and short, so they called me Lil Mooks. And I thought ‘Fuck that shit’, I have to change it to a more mature name like Phaze, because ‘phase’ means levels and it’s also a double entendre for ‘face’. So with the name, it’s kind of a statement about how I want to go on different levels with my face. Then I realised a lot of rappers were using that name, so I decided to go with Airliftz which is based on Aliff – my real name. How did you get into rap music?It all started back when I was a kid. I mean, I was rapping back then but I grew up listening to hip hop. I was really influenced by my brothers – I was busy listening to rap from their era like Too Phat, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and all that. Hip hop has been inside me ever since I was a kid. Do you remember the first rap song you listened to?[Starts rapping Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s ‘Change the World’] Bone Thugs’ ‘Change the World’. I remember my brother played it on the radio on cassette, an

 Najwa
Music

Najwa

Despite not having released anything since an album in 2011 and an EP in 2014, Najwa is still headlining major festivals. Instead of relying on quantity to keep her relevant in the industry, Najwa banks on the quality of her music. If you’ve been following Najwa closely over the years, you’ll notice that she’s evolved from a talented soul and R&B singer to an artist who is willing to push the limits of her craft. We catch up with Najwa prior to her performance at Good Vibes Festival to discuss her experiences in music school, her new EP and more. We read somewhere else that your dad plays the piano and your brother – Moslem Priest – is a DJ and producer. Did you grow up in a very musical environment?I would say it was pretty musical. We’d always have activities that would revolve around music. It wasn’t a strict musical upbringing, but my parents would always stress on the arts and culture. Whenever we travelled when we were younger, we’d either go to the museum or catch a musical. In that sense I was always exposed to music. That’s kind of how I got my passion for music. Does the music you make now reflect what you grew up with?In a way, yes. As an artist you definitely evolve but at the beginning when I first started writing music, the songs were pretty close to the songs that I had been listening to growing up. Later on I discovered other artists and other styles of writing, and then I went to music school and learnt different things; that was when I think my writing c

The Otherside Orchestra
Music

The Otherside Orchestra

The Otherside Orchestra first made a name for themselves for being one of the first few bands that jump-started the indiewave that hit our city in the mid-2000s. Alongside other bands like Hujan, Meet Uncle Hussain and Komplot, The Otherside Orchestra spawned a movement best known for its synthesizers, lo-fi guitars and skinny jeans. A lot has changed since The Otherside Orchestra released their debut album ‘ElectRomanceTacy’ in 2007 – the indie movement that dominated the music scene has shrunk significantly; their lead singer Izwin left the band to start a family; and a former reality TV star was elected President of the United States. But change isn’t always bad; last year they added Syima to the band as their new vocalist and in April, they released their second album after ten years, ‘Disco Chemist’. We talked to Syima and founding member and lead guitarist Wan about the indie scene back then, their new album and more. Photo: All Is Amazing How would you describe your music? Syima Electro, electronic danceable rock ’n’ roll. Wan For me, we’ve always been dance-able rock ’n’ roll. I don’t think there’s an actual genre for our music. We just want people to have fun. I don’t go to gigs to be depressed, I want people to dance and have fun. This is your first album in ten years. Are you still making the same music that you did in 2007? W We’ve added some contemporary elements to it, but we’re still doing what we do best. We’re still making disco and dance-able rock ’n’

Introducing...

HOAX Vision
Music

HOAX Vision

‘We're a cult!’ says Naufal Anwa, one of the co-founders of HOAX Vision. If you’ve ever been to any of their shows, you’d start thinking that was true too. At their last show in July 2016, ‘#HOAX 005’ at TREC’s Arte Bar, bouncers were forced to turn people away at the door because the place had reached capacity. Upstairs at Arte Bar, everyone was sweating profusely from the collective body heat of several hundred people packed onto a small dance floor. Despite all that, everyone was dancing and singing along whenever a HOAX artist took the mic. Many of them at the time didn’t have radio hits, only songs on the internet. But somehow, everyone knew the all the words to their songs. Maybe they are a cult. From the beginning HOAX Vision was founded by two friends, Farhan Fauzi and Naufal Anwa. While both young and rebellious, they aren’t exactly leading the rapstar lifestyle you’d expect. Farhan, 21, who raps under the moniker Bastard, is currently in Berlin, doing a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. Naufal, 22, is a regular name in the KL DJ circuit and is currently finishing his degree in Economics at the International Islamic University Malaysia. They forged a friendship through Twitter two years before starting HOAX. Apart from bonding over sneakers and streetwear, Farhan caught Naufal’s attention with his rants and observations about the Malaysian music scene. ‘I was really loud on Twitter and talked a lot of shit there. I had a lot of bitterness about how thi

Lurkgurl
Music

Lurkgurl

Singer-songwriter Lurkgurl likes skateboarding, Frankie Cosmos, and being alone – among other things

Jaggfuzzbeats
Music

Jaggfuzzbeats

Get to know Shah Alam rock duo Jaggfuzzbeats

alextbh
Music

alextbh

Meet young, honest Alex and his electronic-meets-R&B sadboi tunes

See more introductions to artists in KL

KL's best music and nightlife

The best karaoke joints in KL
Nightlife

The best karaoke joints in KL

KL is a karaoke paradise (geddit?), but how good is their sound system, the food, and most importantly, the variety of Queen songs we can sing endlessly to? We rank the city’s best in our list. If you need ideas on the best karaoke-friendly songs to sing, see our list of the 50 best karaoke songs. 

The best bars for gin in KL
Bars and pubs

The best bars for gin in KL

In case you didn't know, there's a rising gin obsession in town. Join the gin revival and head to the city's best bars for a gin and tonic, including fancy upgrades.

The best clubs for dancing in KL
Nightlife

The best clubs for dancing in KL

Looking for a fun night out dancing? Check out the best clubs, rooftop party decks and underground DJ dens to bust out those slick moves without shame. If you prefer to sing and dance in a private room (with only your friends as an audience), see our list of the best karaoke joints in town, and be sure to sing along to our 50 best karaoke songs. 

The best bars in KL
Bars and pubs

The best bars in KL

Get into the spirit of KL’s vibrant nightlife scene as we round up the best bars for every occasion, including where to drink in the city’s prettiest sights.

The best live music venues in KL
Music

The best live music venues in KL

Indie rock, acoustic folk, jazz – think you can’t find them in KL? These top ten live music venues play all that and more.

The best bars and clubs in KL
Nightlife

The best bars and clubs in KL

Rooftop bars, speakeasies and the best places to party. Here are the best bars and clubs in KL to blow off some steam.