Being the capital of Malaysia, it should come as no surprise that KL and Selangor pack one of the strongest music scenes in the country. Scratch below the surface of the K-pop mania and EDM craze, and you’ll find a host of iconic bars that feature the wild and jubilant live music that still lives on.
For those who love watching the magic happen right before their very eyes but are not fans of big festivals such as the Rainforest World Music Festival and the Good Vibes Festival, these smaller joints should be your cup of tea. From the explosive high energy sound of Rock & Roll to the sweet caress of acoustic sets, these taverns will not only satisfy your thirst (yes, double entendre intended), but also your soul. Let’s take a look at our eight favourite live music venues around the city.
1. No Black Tie Jazz Club
Although it may not come close to the cradle of Jazz, New Orleans, No Black Tie is home to many local jazz cats. With its sleek and rustic interior, this Premier Jazz Club & Gastro-Bar will transport you to the music scene circa 1885. Boasting one of the best acoustics and sound quality, NBT has seen the likes of Malaysia’s top singers and musicians, the region’s best, and an impressive line-up of international acts over the years. Concert Dinner is served from 7.30pm – 8.30pm on weekdays and 7.30pm – 9.30pm on weekends.
2. Waikiki Bar
You simply can’t talk about live music venues in PJ without the name Waikiki cropping up. Known for its kick-back Havana-style settings, Waikiki has been home to many of Malaysia’s best bands. If you’re a discerning music fan who loves to see musicians jamming it out, showing off their musical prowess, Waikiki’s Sunday Jam Session is the way to go. The bar sit sits on a platform that overlooks a swimming pool which provides a stunning picture at night and a chill atmosphere.
Address: PJ Palms Sports Centre, Lorong Sultan, Seksyen 52, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Contact: +603 7957 3040 | [email protected]
3. Tom, Dick & Harry’s (TDH)
With its cosy setting, great choices of tap and bottled beers, as well as fantastic selection of local bands, Tom, Dick & Harry is your go-to fun-loving dive to catch live music outside of the city centre. For those who want to enjoy the music without being too up front and centre, there is an outdoor terrace with a stunning view of a manmade oasis for you to feast your eyes on while being serenaded. No time for dinner? Mou man tai! (it’s Cantonese for no problem and it is also incidentally their slogan.) TDH offers a pretty extensive list of hearty pub grubs so you’ll never go hungry.
Address: Oasis Square, 2 Jalan PJU 1A/7A, Ara Damansara, Petaling Jaya 47301
4. Live House
Great food, laughter, and good music, Live House offers it all. While it is mostly known for its rib -cracking stand-up comedy shows, Live House’s live music scene is something to shout about too. With a regular line-up of some of the best emerging bands in the scene right now and a lively yet not too OTT party atmosphere, it appeals to a wide range of patrons. Their burgers deserve a special mention – made by the team behind KGB Burgers, complemented by an extensive selection of ice cold beers and spirits, your night out will never be more satisfying.
5. Le Noir
Le Noir has long been a huge hit with the KL crowd, and there’s a true gem of a live music venue right at the heart of it. From local to international, the Le Noir has hosted some of the biggest upcoming names in music. Coming here, you can expect a range of amazing covers from very talented local artists. The three-storey venue encompasses an alfresco street-level space, a live music space on the first floor (where the magic happens), a 3,000 sq ft club-lounge on the second floor, and a rooftop bar that reputedly boasts a panoramic view of the city.
6. Online Pub
If you’re seeking for that loud and abrasive sound of rock and roll, Online Pub in PJ should be your choice of watering hole. Watch skilled musicians ripping into their instruments as they perform their own rendition of some of the best rock songs ever written. This neighbourhood hang hasn’t changed a ton since it originally opened so while the interior may not appeal to you, their Guinness, Hokkien mee, wild boar curry, and mind-blowing music surely will.
Address: No. 32 Jalan SS 20/10, Damansara Kim 47400, Petaling Jaya Selangor
Contact: +603 7728 0532
7. Backyard Pub and Grill
Backyard is one of the older, if not the oldest live music scene that is still thriving in the popular neighbourhood of Desa Sri Hartamas. At a glance, it may seem a tad seedy, but this neighbourhood watering hole has a way of charming you: mutton fried rice, great whisky, and musicians who craft music like they’ve sold their souls to Satan. The different bands that are featured every night dish out mostly 50s-80s genre to appeal to its mostly more mature patrons, but hey, we are not complaining because up until today, Backyard has seen its fair share of great acts over the years.
Address: 28 Jalan Sri Hartamas 8, Taman Sri Hartamas, 50490 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +60 3-6201 0318
Tucked away above Sun Raj Restaurant in a residential neighbourhood in Petaling Jaya, this place can get a little tricky to find. Pronounced as mer-day-kar-ya, this space is first and foremost a live music venue. It has established itself as the go-to venue for local musicians and singer-songwriters to showcase their own material. They cater to all types of music and genres, so if you’re in the mood to immerse yourself in some original masterpieces, this is the place to go. You have to either place a minimum of one drink order per person or pay a RM10 cover charge per pax as a condition of entry. Note that the artists get paid with whatever money you put into the tip jar, so do tip generously if you like what you hear.