Music

The best guide to live music in Mexico City, including concert listings and what’s on at top music venues

Arena Ciudad de México
Music

Arena Ciudad de México

This place was designed to squeeze out the most of every live presentation, and as such its visibility and acoustics have been well planned so that every concert, play, lucha libre fight or basketball game is an unforgettable experience. La Arena Ciudad de México has a capacity of 22,300 people and is equipped with everything necessary so that its attendees – and artists – feel comfortable. It has two heliports and 124 luxury suites- for those who come from outside the city. It’s the second biggest venue in the city after Foro Sol.  The first show was our dear Sol de México, Luis Miguel – when he hadn’t yet become known as the king of cancellations – in February 2012. Since then, it’s hosted shows from the likes of James, Garbage and Pet Shop Boys as well as NBA games, WWE, TripleManía XX and Disney On Ice. The best way to get there is by car, being that it has a free parking area for more than 5,000 cars. The Metro is close if you want to arrive in public transport, and far if you come by foot.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Foro Sol
Music

Foro Sol

Driving here is a nightmare, parking is a disaster, you have to walk a mile on the racetrack to get to the stage, if it rains, you’re screwed, and there’s a 99% chance that if you bought tickets in the grandstands, the visibility is garbage. Yet, some of the biggest names in music have given us some of the most memorable shows of all time here. It’s simply the most important private entertainment venue in the city and its capacity is surpassed only by Estadio Azteca and the Zocalo (whose logistics make it a catastrophic place to host a concert). If you are going to buy a ticket to the Foro Sol, make sure it is not in the stands, the best price and quality area is usually "General B", where the crowd is and, therefore, the best vibes. If you weren’t able to get tickets there, sell one of your kidneys on the black market and spring for tickets in the "General A" zone. If it sold out (or nobody bought your kidney), we anticipate that your experience in the stands will be a bit… frustrating.

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
Palacio de los Deportes
Music

Palacio de los Deportes

This venue is perhaps one of the most emblematic of Mexico City. Not a fortnight passes without "the copper dome" hosting a world-class event. It was built for the 1968 Olympics by architects Felix Candela, Antonio Peyri and Enrique Castañeda Tamborelli. They were inspired by the construction a structure by the same name that was created by Pier Luigi Nervi for the Olympic Games in Rome, celebrated eight years earlier. At first, as the name suggests, it was used for sporting events, especially basketball. But, with the passing of the years has served as a space for fairs, conventions, boxing, wrestling and even Bullfights. Ironically, the main activity of the colloquially known as "Palacio de los Rebotes" (Palace of the Echoes) are the concerts. In recent years several modifications have been made to the interior of its roof to improve the acoustics and, fortunately, it’s getting better. There are so many artists that have performed in this venue that it would be impossible to name them all, but among the most well-known are Paul McCartney, Roger Waters, U2, KISS, and Mexican sweethearts Café Tacvba.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Teatro Metropólitan
Music

Teatro Metropólitan

We’re certain that all Mexico City residents have visited Teatro Metropólitan at least once in our lives. Built in 1943 by architect Pedro Gorozpe Echeverría – with the help of cine Its exterior is slice of art deco (they say that it’s inspired by Radio City Music Hall) and it’s interiors are neoclassical. It was inaugurated by ex-president Manuel Ávila Camacho with the projection of Los Miserables (1935) Richard Boleslawski. After nearly 40 years of showings, it was one of the venues that closed due to the cultural rut that the city suffered in the early 1990s. It was rescued and restored in 1996 by OCESA, the business that converted it into a space dedicated to theater, conferences, movie projections, dance presentations and above all, a place for concerts. Its red rugs and two Greek sculptures – at the sides of the stage – have borne witness to exciting shows: the first visit to Mexico by Placebo and The Pixies, the 35th university of Bauhaus with Peter Murphy, and spectacular show by David Byrne and his American Utopia tour.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Pepsi Center WTC
Music

Pepsi Center WTC

There had already been several attempts to use the World Trade Center as a forum for concerts. Like, in the 80s, when the high-rise Hotel de México was still a black hole of construction that was stopped indefinitely, The Police and Radio Futura were welcomed with riots that alarmed the press. Then, in the 2000s, organizers dared to invite Interpol for the first time in Mexico, but due to the number of people who attended - and when they started to jump in unison, it caused so much vibration that Paul Banks got nervous and had to change the second date to a much less shaky venue. Then, in May 2012 the Pepsi Center opened with the first acts: Alejandro Fernández and Bob Dylan, shortly after. It is a multimodal forum with 12 boxes and 19 luxury suites managed by Ocesa, with a capacity of up to 7,000 people.

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars

The best music venues in Mexico City

Auditorio Nacional
Music

Auditorio Nacional

If you grew up in Mexico City, surely you have more than one fond memory associated with this place: a concert that blew your mind, a magic show that left you spinning, a televised opera that made you feel cultured ... This spectacle host has seen acts of all kinds from politics, music, theater, dance, writers, poets, dozens of traveling merchants and endless rows of fans. Not only are events in its impressive capacity, they also host them on the outdoor mezzanine, where you can find anything from photography exhibitions to book fairs. Designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Gonzálo Ramírez del Sordo in 1952 and remodeled and enlarged by Abraham Zabulovsky and Teodoro González de León in 1989, the Auditorio Nacional is probably, along with the Palacio de los Deportes, the most emblematic Mexico City music forum.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Lunario
Music

Lunario

This small-but-mighty spot has seen the dreams of many music lovers come true. Lunario normally receives cult bands that can’t’ fill a bigger venue but still have a loyal following - for example, Kashmir’s first visit to Mexico City went through here. What ended up happening wasn’t expected by either fans or the band: three fully sold-out date and fans lined up outside from early morning to take in an intimate concert in a space that could not be better suited. We also welcomed Beirut along with the vocals of Zach Condon here. Although, we don’t know who was more surprised, them or us. There was also the Indie-O Fests surrounded by people who really love music, not those who go only because it's trendy. The same with The Radio Dept and José González. Before El Plaza and the Blackberry, the Lunario was THE spot to see your favorite bands: an incredible intimacy between the band and the crow, as well as excellent acoustics and visibility. We kindly beg the show promoter gods not to forget this space because music lovers have made some incredible memories here.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Foro Sol
Music

Foro Sol

Driving here is a nightmare, parking is a disaster, you have to walk a mile on the racetrack to get to the stage, if it rains, you’re screwed, and there’s a 99% chance that if you bought tickets in the grandstands, the visibility is garbage. Yet, some of the biggest names in music have given us some of the most memorable shows of all time here. It’s simply the most important private entertainment venue in the city and its capacity is surpassed only by Estadio Azteca and the Zocalo (whose logistics make it a catastrophic place to host a concert). If you are going to buy a ticket to the Foro Sol, make sure it is not in the stands, the best price and quality area is usually "General B", where the crowd is and, therefore, the best vibes. If you weren’t able to get tickets there, sell one of your kidneys on the black market and spring for tickets in the "General A" zone. If it sold out (or nobody bought your kidney), we anticipate that your experience in the stands will be a bit… frustrating.

Time Out says
2 out of 5 stars
El Plaza Condesa
Music

El Plaza Condesa

After being a cinema and a casino in the 1970s, El Plaza Condesa is now a concert hall. With a 1,900-person capacity, this spot is characterized by its excellent visibility and acoustics, which makes it one of the best places to catch a show. It is a two-story forum, the one on top is sometimes conditioned as a VIP section with seating and a services staff. There’s also valet parking, an atrium, smoking area, official merchandising store and two bars where alcoholic beverages and snacks are sold. The excellent location, in one of the busiest areas of the city, makes visiting El Plaza an experience where you can go to cafes, restaurants and bars before or after the show. Since its opening in 2011, its hosted festivals, private events and concerts by artists such as Morrissey, Stone Temple Pilots and Editors, as well as diverse offerings like Pink Martini, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Eliades Ochoa. Tip: Find the jaguar.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars

The best live music bars

Zinco Jazz Club
Bars

Zinco Jazz Club

A host, elegantly dressed in black, will be the first person you see upon entering this relaxed space that’s decked out in red and black. He will direct you to the underground vault which only a few years ago was the Banco de México, and since then has emulated Zinc, the legendary New York Jazz Club. Silent at moments, the quietness is interrupted with the complete harmony and polyrhythmic sounds of one of the many genres of jazz. The syncopated music attracts, in this city, a very diverse public: university students, bohemians, connoisseurs, intellectuals, adults of literally all ages, hipsters, yuppies, undefined folks, and eccentrics.  All seated at the tables which are set directly in front of the stage.  While you await the musicians, who tend to take the stage around 10pm, ask Adán, the barman, for his recommended mezcalini de tamarindo, or perhaps a cosmo or a whiskey on the rocks, a nod to the jazz clubs of old. In order to satisfy the palate even more, accompany your cocktail with the pulpo a la griega. Lone wolfs also are welcome: the place is comfy, with its ample bar being your refuge and the great green clock that hangs in front of it, your company. Taste, listen and let yourself be taken away by the improvisation of the music. So at least you can check off “go to a jazz club” from our bucket list.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Rockmore Club de Música
Nightlife

Rockmore Club de Música

Remember the Key Maker scene in Matrix Reloaded (2003) where the room is full of doors and the area is sort of surreal and spatial? Well, Cigar Bar on the third floor of this multi-level joint on Molière 48 is kind of like that. The lower level is the Barro Negro Oaxacan restaurant. Up the stairs to the third floor is also a bizarre narrow space with a red phone booth and a wooden gate with a rectangular peephole. Through that door is Cigar Bar, so long as you know the password, while the door that appears to be armored is the entrance of Rockmore Club de Música; a real treat in and of itself. This place is secretive, dark, and very private – a perfect place to drink some cocktails and listen to your favorite music. If you want to get in, you’ll need to be on the list so, call ahead or send a message on Facebook. You’ll have to arrive with plenty of gumption since the way in is a little intimidating the first time: you’ll have to knock, and a doorman will lean out to ask for your name to confirm that you’re on the list before you can go inside. The dimly-lit space is surrounded by black curtains, the walls, ceiling and floor are all covered with sound-isolating materials. You will arrive to a dimly lit room, surrounded by black curtains and covered with sound insulating rubber on walls, ceiling and floor. Once you orient yourself, check out the three elements that stand out: a drum set, a huge lamp that changes from white to blue to red intermittently, of course, the

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars
Parker & Lenox
Bars

Parker & Lenox

Life wouldn’t have been the same without speakeasies. It was within these underground Prohibition bars that some of the biggest social changes of the past century occurred. The air was inundated with jazz and the music initiated one of the first steps toward racial integration; women began to drink in public among men, and the majority left behind their corsets and long hair in order to adopt the “boyish” flapper style; the creation of cocktails was pushed forward at an epic speed, with the goal of hiding the strong flavor of house gins with juices and honey. The First World War finally had ended and the post-conflict generation wanted nothing more than to enjoy themselves in the economic boom that they were granted. A new generation was born.  Luckily, Mexico City’s millennials can return to these 1920s bars without having to wait for a midnight ride in Paris. The speakeasies – or at least the bar they inspired, are still emerging so that we can submerge ourselves in jazz and hedonism. One such recently opened bars is Parker. To get there, you have first enter through an American cuisine restaurant called Lenox, in the Juárez. Then, you have to cross the restaurant until you find some small doors; open then and walk through a dark hallway. You’ll find yourself in an ample and elegantly designed room, one which would appeal to a contemporary Gatsby, with a long bar, velvet chairs, wooden tables and a red-curtained stage.  The best thing is that beyond the concept, there’s

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars
Can Can Bar
Bars

Can Can Bar

From the creators of Mono and Campobaja, and what was once Rhodesia, comes Can Can Bar, a little bar in the Roma neighborhood that is sure to become one of the trendiest in the city. It has the perfect location and everything we are looking for in a bar: retro decorations, classic drinks with " a twist" and ideal after work snacks. Did I mention the flirty drinks? José Luis León, head bartender of Licorería Limantour, is responsible for the delectable drink menu. There are seven cocktails in total: A long iland iced tea, moscow mule, frozen irish coffee, can can paloma, moradito, can can pimms cup and a cucumber fresco. Between us, get the mule, it has vodka, ginger and lime, all in a perfect balance of sweet and tart. Next up, the moradito, of course. If you’re not into cocktails, no worries. You can try any of the extensive offerings of spirits and liqueurs. Heads up: although this is technically a bar, you’ll find milkshakes, coffee, sodas, and orangeades here. So, it won’t matter if you’re not looking to drink, you can always find something to sip on while you play some foosball or take in some live music. The food is sort of Mediterranean/European-American. Try the marinated olives, charcuterie board but, the apple, jicama, hazelnuts and jocoque (a tart cheese) plate was a bit bland and we wouldn’t recommend it. However, the burger is a must; a delicious patty served on artisanal bread with pickles. We also loved the burrata with roast beef and capers. Either way, le

Time Out says
3 out of 5 stars

Classic Mexico City music venues

Palacio de Bellas Artes
Museums

Palacio de Bellas Artes

When we talk about the Palacio de Bellas Artes we should first talk about the Teatro Nacional, that during the 19th century was remodeled with the goal of cultural growth of the city, linked to the centennial festivals of Mexican Independence. It was then that the Palacio was constructed and now it’s a complete icon of the city. The construction of Bellas Artes was completed by Italian Architect Adamo Boari, a curious thing as during the time of General Porfirio Díaz, most of the city was modeled after popular French styles, though the Italian architect’s style was equally French. As part of the technique in style at the time, art nouveau, steel and concrete were used in the building’s skeleton, so it could be later dressed in marble. The construction was supposed to have been completed within four years, but due to the natural sinking of the earth, the project was delayed. Then came the Mexican Revolution, which put an indefinite halt to the project. The work was finally reinstated in 1928 under architect Fernando Mariscal who substituted the art nouveau style for art deco, with the use of materials like onyx and marble. In 1932, the former secretary of finance Alberto J. Pani initiated the completion of the project and therefore transformed the space into a venue dedicated to visual and plastic arts. It was then named the Palacio de Bellas Artes. The sculptures located in front of the building were designed by Catalonian sculptor Agustín Querol; and were originally loc

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Sala Nezahualcóyotl
Music

Sala Nezahualcóyotl

Located within the Centro Cultural Universitario in Southern Mexico City, Sala Nezahualcóyotl is the architectural project designed by Mexican Arcadio Artist and American Christopher Jaffe — expert in acoustic design – and has capacity for 2,311 spectators. La Sala Nezahualcóyotl is the headquarters for UNAM’s Orquesta Filarmónica and considered one of Latin America’s best concert halls. Its story began in the 70s with the conductor, Eduardo Mata – former director of OFUNAM, started to realize the level of artistic development that was being reached by the university’s orchestra. During the 70s, concert hall were constructed in rectangular form, but Christopher has since inspired the Filarmónica de Berlín and the Concertgebouw in Ámsterdam and designed Sala Nezahualcóyotl in a round form. The hall has played host to national and international musicians, like the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Symphonic Orchestra and one of the most popular shows, La Sonora Santanera, with OFUNAM and Natalia Lafourcade, although there have also been shows like El Cascanueces.    

Teatro de la Ciudad Esperanza Iris
Theater

Teatro de la Ciudad Esperanza Iris

Located in the Centro Histórico, along Calle Donceles, is a majestic building that has born the name Esperanza Iris (1884-1962) Mexico’s “queen of the opera” for 100 years. In 1918, despite being in the throes of the Mexican Revolution, this building was constructed as one of the most important buildings in the country, as so it remains. Its architecture is inspired by neoclassical Greek and Roman temples (iconic columns and pilasters). It also features the busts of Giuseppe Verdi, Georges Bizet, Franz Lehar, Jacques Offenbach and Esperanza Iris. In its early years, this place became the exhibition space for great artist who debuted their works here in Latin America, even before taking them to New York, like Enrico Caruso, María Conesa and Giacomo Rimini. These days it’s home to the Coordinación del Sistema de Teatros de la Ciudad de México, and has been the headquarters of numerous festivals such as the Festival del Centro Histórico and the Festival Internacional Cervantino, as well as awards shows, including the Premios Metropolitanos, and the awards of the Asociación de Críticos and Periodistas Teatrales and los Premios Fénix. It’s a relevant art space and a must-stop for national and international advocates of theatre, dance, music and cinema disciplines. They’ve filled the theater’s more than 1,344 seats with artists such as Silvio Rodríguez, Pablo Milanese, Joan Manuel Serrat, Mario Benedetti, Daniele Finzi Pasca and Michael Nyman.

Time Out says
5 out of 5 stars
Auditorio Nacional
Music

Auditorio Nacional

If you grew up in Mexico City, surely you have more than one fond memory associated with this place: a concert that blew your mind, a magic show that left you spinning, a televised opera that made you feel cultured ... This spectacle host has seen acts of all kinds from politics, music, theater, dance, writers, poets, dozens of traveling merchants and endless rows of fans. Not only are events in its impressive capacity, they also host them on the outdoor mezzanine, where you can find anything from photography exhibitions to book fairs. Designed by Pedro Ramírez Vázquez and Gonzálo Ramírez del Sordo in 1952 and remodeled and enlarged by Abraham Zabulovsky and Teodoro González de León in 1989, the Auditorio Nacional is probably, along with the Palacio de los Deportes, the most emblematic Mexico City music forum.

Time Out says
4 out of 5 stars