Indie rock, acoustic folk, jazz – think you can’t find them in KL? These top live music venues play all that and more.
Perfect Square Space is dedicated to the underground scene. Despite having just opened end last year, this intimate, 170-people capacity venue has quickly made a name for itself as the go-to place to catch new and established underground bands from around the country. Apart from that, the space has also attracted touring regional and international acts; among them are American punk band RVIVR and Bottlesmoker from Indonesia. Perfect Square Space is hidden above a mamak, so if you ever get hungry after a gig, you can always go for a Maggi goreng downstairs.
Playspace LIVE is one of the many small independent venues that have opened up in KL in recent years. What sets it apart from other small music venues is their commitment to the sound quality and production value. Playspace LIVE is known for its great sound quality and excellent lighting. Also, Playspace LIVE is admirably very inclusive when it comes to selecting the artists to play there. They’ve been hosting musicians of all genres, from acapella to metal to even classical music.
Bobo KL is Jalan Bangkung’s resident piano bar. Have a modern European dinner at the restaurant downstairs, then make your way upstairs for some entertainment and there – your night sorted. Sean Ghazi is the artistic director in charge of the music programming here. Although the venue has a cool jazz club vibe, they insist on not being one but aims to focus more on easy listening music such as oldies and musicals. Some of the bar’s past performers include Elvira Arul, Tony Eusoff, Melissa Indot, Rozz and more.
When in Kelana Jaya, drop by this new gig space founded by producer and sound engineer Bijan FX. Although the place is in a quiet part of town, it comes alive from Thursday night through to the weekend. ATAS by Bijan FX has quite the busy schedule with regular nights such as their ‘Singer-songwriters Night’, the ‘StubApp Music Series’ and more. Some musicians who have graced the ATAS stage include Dirgahayu, Liyana Fizi, Toko Kilat, SevenCollar T-Shirt, The Venopian Solitude and more.
If you haven’t noticed already, The Bee is back – and not only with a new look, but with a whole new programming as well. The restaurant, bar and music venue is also brining back its signature Upfront series. Gracing the stage so far this year were Onra, The Temper Trap and Tennyson. Besides international acts, they’ve also introduced new music series for local acts, including the by-girls and for-girls Femme Bam, Saturday nights Sonic Boom, and a bi-monthly poetry open mic night.
Merdekarya is the people’s music venue. No, not just for its cheap drinks but also because anyone can play here. At Merdekarya, anyone can sign up for their open mic slots or open for their featured acts of the night. And if Merdekarya thinks you’re good enough, you’ll be offered your own show here. After three years since they first started, Merdekarya has upgraded by soundproofing the space, adding extra stage lights and improving their sound. The music on offer is usually acoustic, but some nights you might find yourself catching a rock band or a jazz crooner.
Located at a corner of a nondescript building across a three-storey car park, and above dim, narrow stairs, is Live Fact – a bare, intimate space for band jams, gigs and many more. It’s self-sustaining – DIY isn’t dead – and so far, in its short span, has hosted local and touring acts; think Arms and Sleepers, MY DISCO and Killeur Calculateur. They also hosted the Malaysian leg of the Asian Meeting Festival which saw a stellar lineup of 16 musicians from Japan and Southeast Asia. There’s a bar, a stage and a studio. The sound, in relation to its size, is not too shabby.
If you’re all about reliving the '60s in an Allen Ginsberg, Joan Baez and Bob Dylan kind of way, then make Gaslight Café your new hangout spot. While the original Gaslight Café back in New York was located in a basement on MacDougal Street, this one is all the way up in Plaza Damansara, above Neroteca and new rum bar JungleBird. Staying true to the original café’s roots, the performances here are strictly folk, country, jazz, blues, soul and poetry.
Set up more than 10 years ago by pianist Evelyn Hii, NBT has grown into a refuge for burgeoning local talents, whether an expert fingerstyle guitarist or a music student on term break. International talents float in and out, including jazz pianist Kirk Lightsey and Kolkata band Kendraka. Local acts like Yuna and Reza Salleh have used NBT as a launching pad for greater things, while jazz talents Rozz, Dasha Logan and Elvira Arul are regular crooners. Acoustics and sound control are pitch perfected from a control pad so that every sexy trumpet riff swirls around the room. NBT is a music venue first, restaurant second, so customer noise levels are generally low.
The Alexis brand may have passed through the ritzy corridors of Bangsar Shopping Centre and The Gardens over the years, but the storied Ampang outlet in Great Eastern Mall is still the place to be for an intimate evening of jazz. Since 2003, Fridays and Saturdays at Alexis Bistro Ampang have been dedicated solely to top-notch jazz performances from a host of local and international musicians, an impressive list that ranges from Barry Cooper and Tompi to Adibah Noor and Michael Veerapen. The classy and stylish setting is fleshed out with soothing sounds of blues, swing, funk and soul.