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Top venues for live music in Beijing

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

The Chinese capital city of Beijing has the appearance of an officious center of government, but this populous city which is home to many of China’s most famous landmarks like the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Summer Palace and the Thirteen tombs of the Ming Dynasty, also boasts of a lively underground ‘live’ music scene which features many of the city’s most popular home-grown acts like Carsick Cars, Queen Sea Big Fish and Snapline.

Live Music at Mao, Beijing

Beijing in fact has quite an animated nightlife scene which currently features a wide array of  bars and clubs which are largely concentrated around  the city’s ‘embassy area’ or Chaoyang District in Eastern Beijing. The many Beijing bars and clubs are largely frequented by the young Chinese local population and the resident foreign expat population. However  if you enjoy live music and do not really care for the commercial, bland Mandarin pop which is often played at many of Beijing’s many popular nightclubs then you are in luck for Beijing has also a plethora of live music venues which provide a stage for both local and international artists to showcase their talents.


242 Chengfu Lu,
half-way between Wudaokou Subway Station and Peking University East Gate

The club D-22 was founded by Michael Pettis, an American expat and economics professor in May 2006 and today it is the premier place in Beijing to listen to live rock music. This dimly lit club which is located in the Beijing’s student district of Haidian has only one bar which seems to be perennially packed with young Chinese students who relish D-22’s no-frills smoky atmosphere and the gritty sounds of  the many cool young bands like Hedgehog, PK14, Joyside and Gia (HOTB) which play here quite often.

Mao Live House

111 Gulou Dongdajie,
Just east of Nanluoguxiang

Mao Live House enjoys the backing of a Japanese record label, Bad News and occupies a warehouse like space which is adorned with shabby chic secondhand furniture and a state of the art sound system. The club features many live performances which display POGO, Grunge, Metal, Punk, Japan Live House and various other styles of music which are popular with the young and not so young live music lovers of Beijing.

CD Jazz Café

6 Nongzhanguanlu, Dongsanhuan,
Chaoyang Park
next to Great Wall Sheraton Hotel

This jazz club which is decked out in jazz music memorabilia was founded by a local horn player Liu Yuan who used to tour with Cui Jian, the Beijing based, Korea-born artist who is considered to be godfather of Chinese rock music for he was the first artist to write rock songs in Chinese. Initially CD Jazz Café used to feature all kinds of music styles but today this smoky, dimly-lit, low key club almost exclusively hosts jazz performances.

Yugong Yishan

West courtyard former site of Duan Qirui Government,
3-2 Zhangzizhong Lu,

Yugong Yishan which is located in the Goulou district (drum tower district) of Beijing is equipped with a high stage, a futuristic sound system and two bars (one of which is lounge bar located on the upper level) and is considered to be a premier live music spot in Beijing as it can quite comfortably accommodate about 300 music lovers. Yungong Yishan offers a varied repertoire of sounds which feature reggae rock, acid, blues, electro, punk, gypsy and  funk styles of music. The club features both local and international artists like Lovely China Day, Girls are Waiting to Meet You, the Discounts, the Secret Machine, Hanggai and  the 19 Mirrors.

What Bar

72 Beichang Jie,
north of Forbidden City west gate

This small live music venue which is located close to a famous Beijing attraction, the Forbidden City features some of Beijing’s hottest up and coming rock bands who entertain fans with their fresh sounds every weekend.

Photo of a concert in Mao Live House, Beijing, by Remko Tanis.

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer anjeeta nayar

Anjeeta Nayar is a professional freelance writer and blogger based in New York City. She relocated to the Big Apple from Mumbai two years ago. She loves New York City for its incredible buzz and energy. It really is the city that never sleeps and there is always something to do and see here. In addition to being a writer and blogger, she is also an avid traveler with London and cities in S.E.Asia being the places she enjoys visiting the most!

3 responses to “Top venues for live music in Beijing”

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  1. Bar Beijing says:
    January 26th, 2011 at 11:44

    You must check out the Pavillion bar , opposite the west gate of Workers Stadium .. Great live band there from New Zealand, dont know what their name is but you Must check this band out … Amazing !!

  2. Witteveen says:
    May 19th, 2011 at 09:41

    Good point. I enjoy reading your article. Looking forward for more topics here. Thanks.

  3. Business Genius says:
    May 23rd, 2011 at 16:27

    I definitely agree. I love Beijing.

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