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.
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.
D-22242 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 House111 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 Café6 Nongzhanguanlu, Dongsanhuan,
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 YishanWest courtyard former site of Duan Qirui Government, 3-2 Zhangzizhong Lu, Gulou
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 Bar72 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.