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Madrid bars with free (or close enough) live music

Music lovers, take note of these bars where you can catch good live music while you have a drink or two without blowing your budget

© Sara Navarro
Sala Siroco

In Madrid you can see a concert any day of the week. Sure, most of the time you have to pay, and sometimes quite a lot. Depending on the artist and the venue, a local gig could set you back between 15 and 20 euros, and you're looking at prices up to and sometimes more than 100 euros for big names at places like the WiZink Center. That said, it is possible to to have a good night out seeing live music without paying a cent, or paying less than a tenner. Whether you're a fan of jazz, blues, pop, indie, rock or beyond, make a note of these top spots to let your soul soar with bands onstage doing their thing.

La Coquette

This basement bar, going for some 20 years now, was Madrid's first dedicated exclusively to blues. The musical programme here includes both international names and local artists like Fede Aguado. The live performances are of high quality, and jam sessions are also scheduled, which you can enjoy a beer or a mojito.

Concert price: usually free, with a drink minimum per person.

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Austrias

Café la Palma

This is a long-standing favourite among the Malasaña crowd. Choose from an area with tables, a chill-out zone where everyone lazes on cushions on the floor, or the main room, where from Thursday to Saturday they put on a programme of concerts that includes everything from performances by pop and rumba groups to blues concerts for children. There are often good DJ sessions at weekends.

Concert price: open-mic sessions and some gigs are free, otherwise around €6.

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Malasaña

La Boca del Lobo

La Boca del Lobo combines live bands with a heady mix of house, breakbeats and R&B. Emerge from the sweaty downstairs dancefloor to the cramped bar area by the entrance or retire upstairs to find a seat (almost impossible after midnight at weekends) and watch the DJ spin a beguiling cocktail of music.

Concert price: from €5.

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Barrio de las Letras
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Café Populart

Since 1988, this café in the Barrio de las Letras has been an essential part of Madrid's jazz scene. Founded and run by Javier Pérez, the jazz café puts on concerts almost daily that feature national and international artists. The stage has hosted the likes of Pedro Iturralde, Loy Bennet and Malik Yaqub, young musicians and veterans like Perico Sambeat, Jorge Pardo, Javier Colina and Marck Miralta, among others. Their jam sessions are definitely worth a look-in.

Concert price: from €3.

 

 

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Barrio de las Letras

Búho Real

The lights go down very low in the Búho Real, and the spots come up on a tiny stage. The size limitations here dictate the acts – expect local jazz or acoustic groups, most of them just two- or three-piece bands. The name means the 'Royal Owl', which goes some way towards explaining the large collection of minature owls on display. The fact that it’s such a small venue also gives it a cosy feel; unlike in the large concert halls, the singers perform very close to the public, giving a feeling of proximity to the music. The bills feature plenty of singer-songwriters, and it's a good place to discover new talent.

Concert price: most are free, otherwise from €6.

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Chueca

El Sótano

El Sótano is a singular space where you'll find bands that are local favourites on the current scene, playing music that runs the gamut of indie, pop, alternative rock, shoegaze, garage, punk and electronica. And it's a great place to hang out while the best DJs liven up the night until the wee hours with good vibes and good music.

Concert price: from €5.

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Siroco

Recommended

A wonderfully creative team runs Siroco, which you can see clearly from their varied programme of concerts and the visual effects of the club itself. It's a place for live music, and also heats up after the concerts, which usually last until about 2am. A crowd made up mainly of aspiring B-boys and students mix it up with soul, funk and groove that the resident DJs play.

Concert price: from €5.

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Conde Duque

El Junco

Specialised in jazz, Junco frequently stages concerts by Spanish performers and groups. Although it has just one floor and isn’t particularly big, the venue is divided into three areas: the bar, the stage, and an area to relax and have a quiet drink. Blues and mellow rock are also well received here. When the concerts finish it’s the ideal place to chat and drink gin and tonics or get up and dance.

Concert price: from €6, with a beer included.

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Alonso Martínez

Costello Club

Legendary Madrid nightclub Costello is the spot where you always end up hanging around for drinks after watching your favourite band. They always bring in quality acts, and it's not uncommon to come across musicians among the audience as well. Stay tuned to their social media pages so you don't miss a thing. It can get wall-to-wall at weekends, but overall it's quite the comfortable venue. Bonus: they serve tasty cocktails.

Concert price: some free, otherwise from €5.

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Sol
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Wurlitzer Ballroom

One of the best clubs in Madrid for rockers, the Wurlitzer is not just a rock bar where you can enjoy the best sessions of all areas of the genre – power pop, punk, country, alt-folk, no-wave, etc. – it's also a concert venue where you can see great alternative live music. They're open every day of the week from 10pm, so it's the perfect place to meet up whether it's a Saturday or a Tuesday, and hear some top rock.

Concert price: from €5.

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Sol

Gruta 77

A mix of local groups and touring bands from the States, Australia and Japan pass through this 300-seater. Punk, rock, ska and 'mestizaje' tastes are catered for, and these along with underground rock are what you'll usually hear when bands take the stage. An excellent sound system makes it worth the trip out to the 'burbs, and there are regular rock competitions. Among the audience you’ll find plenty of people wearing studded leather jackets, jeans and cowboy boots.

Concert price: from €5.

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San Isidro

Honky Tonk

Honky Tonk programmes local and national blues and rock bands. Ignore the intimidating-looking doormen and get there early as the large pillars that hold up the building tend to restrict the views of those not at the front. Tribute bands paying homage to acts from the '70s, '80s and '90s are a favourite here.

Concert price: most are free.

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