Tucked away in unassuming locations across the Klang Valley lie hidden gems that many local musicians, both young talents and legendary veterans would call their second home
While your local mamak is hands down the most popular choice for an all-Malaysian hangout spot, these bars, cafes, and gig joints bring it to the next level with their unique ambience and live music to entertain your eardrums. When you space out and have nothing to say, enjoy local and international artists play their craft.
1. Waikiki Bar
This open air space overlooking a pool is decorated as if you're partying at Ibiza. When the shuffle of daily local musicians are not filling the air with sweet tunes, you'll find it a pretty relaxed place with a great staff ready to serve you. Expect some rock bands that cover timeless pieces for an all-night sing along, to soulful musicians and acoustic performances.
Location: Lorong Sultan, Seksyen 52, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday, 5.30pm-2am
2. Gaslight Cafe & Music
You don't need a time-travel machine to be transported back to the 60's. Gaslight Cafe gives you that experience right here in the Klang Valley. Creative minds collate in this neat space that eludes an air of mystery, art and peace. Despite it being tucked away at the top of Plaza Damansara, it manages to catch quite a crowd, so be prepared. If you're into indie-folk music or looking to explore poetry-readings, this quirky joint is your place.
3. Pisco Bar
If you like to experience a little bit of Peru in your life, Pisco Bar has the food, drinks and atmosphere to match it. The second floor of this industrial-modern building is converted to a trendy, open terrace with a stage set up for local musicians to entertain all night long. Their bar located on each floor has bartenders who can whip up an impressive list of cocktails that you may not find anywhere else in the Klang Valley. When it comes to music, they've had a long list of styles played there. Opera, disco, acoustic covers, indie-folk, progressive and techno, Latin and Spanish Rumba, you name it!
4. Live House
This two-tiered entertainment space is created to make its customers enjoy art of all forms. Food is certainly one of them, you can get your burger fix here by Killer Gourmet Burger or milkshakes that may get you a little tipsy after. With the best soul live music playing most days at the 'Main Room' downstairs and a comedy club upstairs known as 'LOL @ Live House', you won't leave without having a good time.
5. The Bee
Apart from being a leading venue where young Malaysians debut their talents, The Bee has had a history of fun parties, quiz nights, comedic sketches that leave you in stitches, and all round great things to makan. It's so popular, there are two venues you can visit!
Location: Jaya One: F-85.G.1, Palm Square, Jaya One, 72A Jalan Universiti, 46200 PJ, Selangor;
Publika: 36 Block C, Level G2, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480, KL
Opening hours: Jaya One: Monday - Thursday 9am-11pm, Friday 9am-11.30pm, Saturday 10am-11.30pm, Sunday 10am-9.30pm ;
Publika: Monday - Thursday 11am-12am, Friday 11am-1.30am, Saturday 10am-1.30am, Sunday 10am-12am
Contact: Facebook l Website l Instagram
Barlai's concept is a unique one, opening only biweekly for an open mic session. If you'd like to witness some raw talent, head on over to Barlai every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month. You'll quickly feel at ease with its spacious open flow concept in its quaint two-story space. Their cocktails are worth trying with its unique mix of local flavours with Asian influences.
No one does colour like Calavera. You'll be able to tell when you spot their infamous wall of sugar skulls among the other eclectic interior. Enjoy the latino concept bar with live music or DJ for a relaxed yet upbeat atmosphere.
8. Minuit Init Art Social
While Minuit Init Art Social is not an all-music place, it is too good to exclude from this list. Initially an art gallery, they have now included art of all medium, forms and message to explore creativity and understanding of our culture. The music is usually a mix of indie and acoustic, soul and techno. Check out the list of events before you head over so you know what you're in for.
This space was created by musicians/writers, for musician/writers. At Merdekarya, anything goes with its "damn chill, lepak environment". Priding themselves as the ultimate indie music venue, their entrance is so discreet that it is located at a back alley. Quality bands and musicians book weeks in advance to showcase original work so go on and check them out for a fresh, guaranteed kickass music performance.
10. No Black Tie
It calls itself "the watering hole of choices for KL’s intellectual, cultural, social and corporate elite," which is pretty accurate when it is not hosting international music events. This classy venue is the place for blues, classical, folk, spoken word and all that jazz.
11. Laundry Bar
The Laundry bar has successfully supported and launched careers of local artists, who equally share the stage with international acts. You'll get jazz, indie, rock, soul, R&B and techno depending on when you decide to pop by. Kick back and enjoy some booze at this immensely popular joint with your friends.
12. Tom, Dick & Harry's Live
The third bar of this successful outlet still manages to pack a crowd that flock to TDH for its famous cocktails and classic pub grub. This outlet however beats the other two with its live music performances where people go to appreciate some good ol' rock and roll or smooth jazz.
Location: Level 3 Pavilion, 168 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur
Opening hours: Monday - Thursday, 4pm -1am; Friday, 4pm - 2am; Saturday, 10am - 2pm; Sunday, 10am - 1am
ALSO: We couldn't bear to leave Penang out of the list, since they have some pretty awesome places for live music. Here are two venues among many others:
Talk Talk Wine Bar & Lounge
The rustic decor adds a charm to this two-story bar with an open concept, allowing the music to flow through the whole space. Its industrial interior with exposed brick walls, wooden planks and artistic pipes labels it as quite a 'hipster' spot. Catch their live acoustic performances every weekend!
Location: J2-G-5, Bangunan Lip Sin, Lebuh Pekaka Satu, 11700 Sungai Dua, Penang
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday & Sunday, 4pm-1am; Friday & Saturday, 4pm-2am
ChinaHouse brings it to the next level by merging 3 heritage buildings to create the ultimate entertainment, restaurant and lifestyle space. There's a space for live music, an outdoor eaterie area, cafe, shops, galleries and bakery. Even if you are there alone, there is a bookshelf of magazines to keep you occupied while you sip your coffee, and kids are given paper and crayons to make their own art. Head to the Canteen section for intimate rock or jazz performances from both young and seasoned musicians. Make sure you try some of their decadent cakes or visit the in-house mixologist for some interesting cocktails.
Do you know that our local bands play some pretty awesome indie music? Here are some of our favourites: