One of many small independent music venues in KL, Playspace is headed by a trio of individuals with musical backgrounds – creative director Melina Wiliam (who’s also the vocalist for local rock band Tempered Mental); technical director Anthony Noel Yap who has worked with MTV, Astro and more; and creative producer Cathy Chin who has over ten years of experience in the performing arts under her belt. What sets this small venue apart is their commitment to the sound quality and production value; pair that with the venue’s intimate space and minimal lighting, and you’ll get a more intimate experience all round.
Although Playspace is typically associated with indie and acoustic genres with highlight performers such as Kyoto Protocol and Oh Chentaku, you can sometimes find R&B, pop, folk and experimental music here too. Think Bassment Syndicate, Gabriel Lynch, Liyana Fizi, Froya and more. For the month ahead, you can look forward to performances by LawaLah Familia, Deer MX, Tempered Mental, Armon and more. There are no regular gig nights, so you have to check their Facebook page for updates.
The Bee has gone from hosting regular open mic nights to hosting international indie bands from all over the world, establishing itself as the go-to place if you want to catch the latest and hippest bands. Over the years, acts like Grimes, Mac DeMarco, The Vaccines and more have graced The Bee’s stage. Ever since it upgraded its venue at the end of last year, The Bee has expanded its music selection by hosting more diverse acts such as hip hop act Jay Prince, French multi-instrumentalist FKJ and producer Onra. Aside from that, The Bee still does what it can to support the local scene hosting various open mics and album launches. There are now also regular nights including the by-girls and for-girls Femme Bam, a bi-monthly poetry open mic night, and Double Bill where two local acts are showcased back to back.
This two-storey piano bar is the brain child of Ed Soo, co-owner of Bangkung Row Restaurants. Wanting to inject musical elements into his new dining venture, Ed brought in Malaysian actor and musician Sean Ghazi to be the artistic director, overseeing the music programming here. Several big names have graced the stage such as Ning Baizura, Jaclyn Victor, Adibah Noor and even Sean Ghazi himself; so the range of genres you’ll find here is extensive – from jazz and soul to classical music and old-school Malay hits. A guest performer comes in every Friday and Saturday so you can expect names like Evelyn Feroza, Melissa Indot, Elvira Arul and more to make an appearance.
Much like the musical offerings here, the menu at the 60-seater restaurant downstairs boasts a good mix of local and European dishes as well as a decent selection of wines. When you dine here, know that you’ll be doing so among a discerning crowd that enjoys good food and good music.
Merdekarya is the people’s music venue. Not just for its cheap drinks, but also because anyone can play here; founders Melani Delilkan and Brian Gomez pictured the space as a live music venue dedicated to original Malaysian music, and they’ve hosted hundreds of musicians and bands since they started four years ago. Supporting homegrown music is the focus here, and there’s usually a regular rotation of local talent playing on stage; they do call Merdekarya ‘the all-year round Malaysian music festival’ after all. The bands who’ve taken the stage are too numerous to list as different bands play every night, but here’s an idea of the diverse acts to expect: Azmyl Yunor, Jes Ebrahim & Monsoon Market, Fabian Mark Peter, Maha Jeffery, The Endleaves and others. Well, except for Friday nights when Sons of the Soil (fronted by Brian) play.
Drinks-wise, there’s draught beer and Guinness on tap, cocktails and liquor as well as non-alcoholic beverages and mocktails. Pair those with pub grub like mutton and chicken varuval, sambal chili con carne dips and hummus, and chill with the crowd looking for something other than covers of mainstream music.
Looking for something more mainstream?
These pubs might not be the hippest places to be, but they offer a reliable and unpretentious night out with live music we could all sing along to.