Thinky’s Guide to Live Music in Singapore

By Cheryl Chia and Adeline Loh

Watching live gigs by wannabe rockers in all manners of anarchic behaviour on the streets has become more commonplace these days. Nothing beats the live music experience where you can tell whether a band actually rocks… or just sucks. Fortunately, if you take live music back to the pubs and nightspots that showcase them, you’ll find many bands that have gained a strong following over the years. These musicians often come with a whole load of experience, explaining their richness of repertoire and technical expertise. Certainly no cringe-worthy bands here. Enjoying the live music experience also includes having a great atmosphere – an appreciative crowd, comfortable seats (how many hours can you party on your feet?) and great drinks. For your enjoyment, we’ve compiled a list of live music venues so you "jazz funk rock soul pop whatever" lovers may finally find the perfect spot to indulge in drinks and a mean gig. Bring on the aural pleasure so close, you can almost feel the vibratos from the singer’s throat.

The Gashaus
The Gashaus & Jamwerkz Music Studios in Bugis is the home of all things musical in Singapore, with 6,000 square feet of fun, and something for everyone. You have to check their events calendar to find out what's on, because any night of the week could be something special (they rent out the venue for private parties all the time!). You'll find all genres performing here; art noise, experimental jazz, hardcore, punk rock, emo and goth, (check out their monthly J-Rock night and cosplay parties), heavy metal, reggae, ska, dub and deejay dance parties (breakdancers love the tile floors) and with the music jamming studios available for rent by the hour, the Gashaus has become the unofficial home of Singapore's Indie music scene. They have a giant wall projector and other sets conveniently placed around the venue showing videos and sports matches, internet and free wi-fi, pool and foosball tables, and a full bar for coffee and alcohol drinks. The food's not bad either, with pizzas, sandwiches, finger foods, dumplings, noodles, salads and more!

—114 Middle Rd. #01-00 (Lee Kai House) Bugis, tel: 6337 1967 fax: 6336 6302

Jazz has recently caught up in mainstream music but Jazz@Southbridge has already stayed true to this genre of music for years. Don’t expect to find much of the usual pop-love jazz vibe here at this joint above Coffee Bean along Boat Quay – the old blues love of musical experimentation and improvisation burns amongst its musicians and regular customers alike. Its repertoire of musicians is impressive: Aya Sekine, who performs Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, is one of the places most high-profile pianists, with her groovy, experimental style. Catch Maya Nova (pictured), a renowned jazz vocalist from Bulgaria, from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Jazz@Southbridge also invites international acts, like Yoshiro Okazaki and Dale Barlow, to perform throughout the year.

—Jazz@Southbridge, 82B Boat Quay, Tel: 6327-4671/2

Harry’s Quayside
No place plays jazz as good as Harry’s. This famous haunt beats other jazz outfits hands down and that goes without saying. Everyone knows this is the place to get some solid jazz tunes.the bar also offers an ambience unlike others. Sink into their rustic rattan seats and unwind to the jazzy beats by their resident band ChromaZone. Occasionally, there’ll be some international acts that provide that oomph. People like Winston Bird and Wynton Marsalis. New to the scene is Ireson, Harry’s new salsa band. Get ready for a swinging good time.

—Harry's Bar 28 Boat Quay, Tel: 6538-3029. Check out Harry’s other outlets at Esplanade (#01-05/07 Esplanade Mall, 8 Raffles Ave, 6334-0132) and Harbourfront (#01-64 Harbourfront Centre, 1 Maritime Square, 6271-8234) and Holland Village.

Posessing much pizzaz since its renovation two years ago, this popular watering hole located in the heart of Orchard Road knows what good entertainment truly means. This is the club people go to for some good solid music by resident band 9lives. You know the music has got to be good since it’s led by Douglas Olivero, our own endearing veteran rock star who also happened to be the judge of last year’s Singapore idol. Their music is usually described as electric and energetic. Prep your ears for anything from rock ballads to R&B and even rock and roll. Catch the band perform every night except on Mondays.

—Bar None, Singapore Marriott Hotel, 320 Orchard Road, Tel: 6222-8117


Carnaval at Chijmes is one of the few pubs around that houses two bands under its roof. During Happy Hour, V.Mogan, a one man band who puts up a snazzy folk and acoustic set, plays from Mondays to Fridays. The man has been playing at Carnaval ever since the place opened in September last year. He plays two sets: the first from 8 to 8:45pm, the second from 9:15 to 10 pm. The atmosphere is great for after work chillin’ out, where listening to live music over drinks makes for good therapy. However, watch out as the mood swings after 10pm into party mode for those up for a more exciting time. Resident band, Mint Jam (pictured), puts up a mean show from Wednesdays to Saturdays. Mint Jam also performed during last year’s New Year’s Eve Latin Party at Chijmes to the wild cheers of the New Year party-goers. The 4 piece band plays a good mix of music, from Top 40’s to Latin to Salsa to R&B. Carnavals will be holding a membership party and a soft launch party in the upcoming months.

—Carnaval , 30 Victoria St., CHIJMES, #B1-05, Tel: 6339 3807

One of the many IndoChine establishments that actually add more vivacity to the clubbing scene in town. Modelled after a fish tank, this ‘underwater’ club exudes a ‘water-like’ atmosphere that makes you feel as if you were a mermaid. Combined with high-tech lighting and a solid sound system, this club even has blue lighted ‘runways’ you strut along while moving to the music. Boredom is out of the question, you won’t even get a chance yawn, especially since they have the best bands and DJs giving you a rocking good time. Check out some live acts that include Rosanna & Her Jazz Players and also Cats in the Cradle (pictured). Both bands offer jazz and rock and they play every Sunday to Thursday. Go on and immerse yourself in the deep blue sea.

—Aquadisiac Club, 435, Orchard Road, Wisma Atria, #01-18 - 23, Tel: 6238-3452

Crazy Elephant
Regulars will attest to the cosy and friendly atmosphere Crazy Elephant provides for listening to live music. The music of choice here are jazz and blues, helmed by resident bands the Bill Brothers, who play on Monday and Thursdays, and the Blues Machine, who play on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, both after 10 pm. The bands, a mix of locals and expatriates, have garnered a strong following in their years at Crazy Elephant and play a range of good ol’ covers. Sundays are reserved for spontaneous jam sessions with Curtis King and the Blues Machine. Local bands are also invited to play, like Ugly in the Morning who performed during the New Year. Remind them to tell you about the luminaries who’ve graced Crazy Elephant. These include Robbie Wiliams, Eric Burdon and the Animals, and even REM and Deep Purple!

—Crazy Elephant, Clarke Quay, 3E River Valley Road, #01-06/07 Trader’s Market Tel: 6337-1990



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