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Music venues in the Mother City – live, local and lekker

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Music venues in the Mother City – live, local and lekker

Cape Town's top places to listen to live music in the city's centre

Last Update: October 11, 2017

Though far from keeping pace with London’s reverberating live music scene or San Francisco’s electric underground indie culture, Cape Town does, in fact, have its own heaving soundscape. So, while appearances by high-profile international artists are the exception to the rule, not the norm, it’s nonetheless easy to find gigs and concerts featuring both local favourites and emerging musicians every day of the week.

In terms of performance spaces, the Mother City has it all, from speakeasy-style jazz clubs and grungy dive bars with dilapidated stages to swish lounges and large-scale concert halls. And, truth be told, you don’t even need to venture outside of the CBD to catch a solid session of righteous tunes. So, without further ado, here’s our overview of Cape Town city centre’s live music venues.

TOP PLACES TO HEAR LIVE MUSIC IN CAPE TOWN CITY CENTRE

Villains
Every Wednesday from 6:30pm, Villains brings live music by Josh Grierson to the leafy Hout Street. This young musician will sweep you off your feet with each strum of his guitar! Kick start your Villain’s Ale live music experience at the Tarantino-styled hotspot between 5pm and 6pm, as Villain’s Ale offers Happy Hour specials every Tuesday to Saturday. Expect to pay half price on all beer (excluding And Union), Pandora’s Box red and white wine (per glass), and all cosmo and margarita cocktails, before Josh takes the stage. The Hout Street hotspot was inspired by English-style pubs, and Villaina encourages patrons to have some beer and order a couple of dishes to share before letting your hair down. Opt for the loft-style lounge upstairs for a VIP experience, but be sure to not miss out on the natural charm of the space by mingling with the villains of The Mother City. Expect to be entertained by the music, a game or two of beer pong and bottle shots (derived from the game Battleships).


38 Hout Street | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 2317

Aces ‘n' Spades
This neighbourhood rock ‘n roll bar is bursting with the coolest kids and chicest cliques in the Mother City. Aces ‘n’ Spades is the kind of joint where The Black Keys and Gary Clark Jr (had they been South African) got their start, a place that worships at the altar of Jimi Hendrix and plays the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction at closing time. The acoustics and size of the inner-city watering hole make it the perfect venue for intimate live music events. Every Friday, patrons are treated to a free performance by local bands. On Wednesdays, aspiring rockers and avid air guitarists can take to the stage for some karaoke. The red neon lights of Aces ‘n’ Spades, pinched between two buildings on Hout Street, will beckon you from Long Street. The irresistible drink specials will draw you in and the pulsating music will keep you coming back for more
To find the Friday Night Live lineup, visit the Aces ‘n’ Spades Facebook page.


62 Hout Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 424 1620

Alexander Bar Upstairs
One of the newer additions to Cape Town’s live music scene, this intimate 40-seater space gives audiences a rare chance to experience eclectic performances in close quarters. The second-storey platform – it rests above its old-world counterpart, Alexander Bar & Café – features live jazz on Tuesdays, new folk-style jams on Wednesdays and a selection of theatrical, comedic and literary acts the rest of the week. Tickets are generally priced at less than R100p/p, and music lovers can check Alexanderbar.co.za to confirm scheduled sessions, show times and ticket costs.


76 Strand Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 300 1088

Cape Town City Hall
Built in 1905, the Edwardian-style Cape Town City Hall has since exchanged its role as home to government for a life spent hosting many of the city’s finest arts and culture events. The honey-coloured building’s grand and acoustically sound auditorium makes for a dazzling live music performance venue, and appropriately, the artists booked to play atop its stage are of the highest calibre. Thus, if the opportunity arises to catch what’s likely to be a world-class act within this Mother City gem, go out of your way to attend. The best way to find out about events scheduled at the Cape Town City Hall is to keep your ear to the ground and, well, subscribe to the CapeTownMagazine.com newsletter.


Darling Street | City Centre | Cape Town

Asoka
Best known for its beautiful clientele and brilliant cocktails, Asoka is one of Cape Town’s oh-so-trendy lounge, restaurant and bar venues. Housed in an old Victorian home on Kloof Street, the swish dinner-and-drinks hotspot features live jazz every Tuesday from 8:45pm to 10:30pm. Music lovers are invited to soak up the resident band’s laidback grooves and hard-bop explorations free of charge while indulging in a full-course meal, snacking on bite-sized tapas or simply sipping on some of the famed bar’s delectable creations. After the ensemble concludes their act, a DJ takes the reins and guides listeners onto the dance floor for the remainder of the evening.


68 Kloof Street | Gardens | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 0909

The Artscape Theatre
As Cape Town CBD’s largest multifunctional creative arts centre, The Artscape Theatre, with its opera house and medium-sized and small auditoriums, often hosts a variety of high-profile local classical and operatic performances. The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra regularly takes to the acclaimed venue’s expansive stage, and a wide spectrum of musicals, like Dirty Dancing, and showcases aimed at promoting music appreciation and education, like the Brass Band Pops and the Fine Music Radio Jazz Showcase, are also consistent inclusions on the theatre’s annual bill. Visit Artscape.co.za or phone the Artscape box office to find out about upcoming events.


D F Malan Street | Foreshore | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 410 9800

Rockpool
Located on prime oceanfront real estate in Sea Point, the laidback La Vie Café Bar pairs the antics of blues harmonica player Dave Ferguson with good vibrations and casual fare every Sunday from 4:30pm. The wondrous one-man act features Dave, a mic, a row of pedals and nearly two dozen harmonicas, and, much to first-time listeners’ surprise, the performance is on par with the work of a four-piece band. What’s more, the show is free of charge as long as you’re enjoying something off the beach-style restaurant’s reasonably priced food and drinks menu. A great way to end the weekend, the quirky live solo gig lays the perfect backbeat to a leisurely afternoon spent soaking up the sparkling Atlantic views and sipping on sundowners.


205 Beach Road | Sea Point | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 433 1530

The Piano Bar
A moody De Waterkant musical revue joint where Sophiatown’s African-inspired jazz and Manhattan’s cosmopolitan swank collide head on, The Piano Bar is the place to go for easy listening funk, soul and blues. The sophisticated haunt features live music every night of the week (even on Mondays and Sundays). What’s more, the upmarket crossroads is as committed to serving up groundbreaking cocktails and hearty fare as it is to giving passionate live-music artists a much-needed platform. So expect an enticing drinks menu, cuisine that’s casual but of top-end quality and a venue that’s as vibey in summer as it is cosy in winter. The music starts at 7:30pm each night. For a schedule of artists, consult The Piano Bar’s Facebook page.

47 Napier Street | De Waterkant | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 418 1096

Richard’s Supper Stage & Bistro
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Sea Point’s only dinner theatre regales both locals and those from farther afield with the musical revue “Kaapse Stories from the Mother City”. The performance, which uses well-known international and South African songs to illuminate the colourful history of Cape Town and her people, hinges on audience participation and comedic interludes. Aside from the supper stage entertainment though, Richard’s also attempts to redefine the Monday blues with regular start-of-the-week jazz sessions. The first Monday of every month, the bistro invites music lovers to wine, dine and marinate in the ambient grooves of their house quartet. Guests should arrive by 7:30pm to take in either performance, and booking is recommended. To do so, and to enquire about pricing and accompanying meal options, email bookings@richardscapetown.co.za or telephone the number listed below. Bookings can also be made via Computicket.com.


229 Main Road | Sea Point | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 434 4497

Sotano
This easy, breezy Mouille Point Mediterranean eatery treats visitors to a heady dose of The Rivertones, a Bob Marley tribute band, every Sunday from 3pm to 6pm. With a casual outdoor area that looks out onto a bustling greenway and the vast ocean beyond and a slightly more formal interior that comes complete with a fireplace, the restaurant beckons to those looking for a groovy sundowner session in either summer or winter. The laidback venue specialises in wine – it has nearly 80 reds and whites by the bottle and almost 40 by the glass – and is devoted to the concept of simple, fresh fare prepared well: think Spanish-style tapas, seafood-heavy mains and seasonal salads. The performance is free of charge when paired with the purchase of anything off the restaurant’s food and drinks menu.


121 Beach Road | Mouille Point | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 433 1757

Straight No Chaser
Formerly known as Mahogany Room, Straight No Chaser is the venture of two South African jazz greats, Kesivan Naidoo and Lee Thomson. The intimate space is modelled on the sultry, smoky speakeasy-style clubs that came out of New York City between the 1920s and 1950s. Focussed on creating a culture of listening in Cape Town and affording musicians a wide berth of artistic freedom, the heavily wooded bar connects audiences with phenomenal jazz performers from Wednesday to Saturday each week. Two shows – one at 8pm and one at 10pm – are scheduled per evening, and booking is essential. For a full line-up and ticket information, visit the Straight No Chaser Facebook page.


79 Buitenkant Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)76 679 2697

Weinhaus + Biergarten (formerly &Union)
Arguably the champion of Cape Town’s craft brew movement, this Portuguese-owned beer garden-cum-bar boasts live unplugged sessions every Tuesday and Wednesday from 8pm; there’s no cover charge attached. The outdoor gigs feature a vast and varied line-up of local talent best enjoyed with one of the watering hole’s handcrafted German and Belgian lager, amber or Weiss beers. Alongside the tasty beverages, the venue dishes up a selection of gourmet pub grub – think burgers, grilled hot dogs and Prego rolls made with free-range meat and organic ingredients. Do note, it’s best to come early to secure your space; seating – which comes in the form of shared picnic tables – is limited.


110 Bree Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 2770

The Waiting Room
Slotted in above legendary local burger joint Royale Eatery, this retro, lounge-style venue is every bit as funky as its downstairs foodie sibling. A long-time Long Street haunt, The Waiting Room features live bands – mainly smaller acts and acoustic ensembles – on Tuesdays and Wednesdays in its main space, a fairly intimate area that claims comfy couches, cushions, wooden flooring and a patch of dance floor. Those who tire of sitting or crouching during a performance – this tends to be the vibe – can enjoy a dop on either the venue’s large second-storey or rooftop balcony. Visit The Waiting Room’s Facebook page to find out the week’s line-up and associated cover charges.


273 Long Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 422 4536

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Looking to get down after the live music dies? Check out our overview of top places to party in Cape Town.

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Cape Town Events Calendar
October 2017
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ct film festBook Your Front Row Seat to The Cape Town International Film Market and Festival

South Africa's film industry is on the rise and we have front row seats.

The Visit at Alexander Bar - 1Watch Some Locally Made Theatrical Hilarity with The Visit at Alexander Bar and Theatre

No theatre buff in Cape Town would miss this!

Junior MTB Workshop - 2BreakAway Rides Will Teach Your Kids to Mountain Bike With Confidence

The Junior MTB Skills Workshop Series at BreakAway Rides will turn your kids into champion mountain bikers

The Number exhibition at the Southern Guild GalleryThe Number: An Exhibition of Tattoo Artwork by Manuela Gray

See a project that explores the symbolism and aesthetics of gang tattoos through art

Apple Blossom Festival - 1The Elgin Valley Comes Alive with the Annual Apple Blossom Festival

Six events that make Elgin the blooming best place for an Apple Blossom Festival

Shakespeare in Love - 5Shakespeare in Love at The Fugard Theatre

Don’t miss this opportunity to see an internationally acclaimed stage show, right here in the Mother City!

Jersey Boy - 2Jersey Boy by Schalk Bezuidenhout

Get your weekly dose of funny with everyone’s favourite Jersey Boy

La Motte ConcertsClassical Concerts at La Motte Wine Estate

La Motte's culture of excellence reaches far beyond wine-making, by embracing the wonder of classical music

EclecticaEclectica Design and Art Presents ‘Dream Rift’

Brush away all the facts, and journey to a world connected by dreams and realities

Boy Girl HairHaircut Special at Boy Girl Hair Salon

Marry a tip-top cut with any of this edgy salon’s other services and save

soccerABSA PSL: Cape Town City vs Bloemfontein Celtic

Gather your mates and get ready for a fast-paced soccer match.

Burger Cafe Caprice Cape Town Camps BayBelly Busting Burger Specials at Café Caprice

Camps Bay’s darling dishes up a duo of patties for the price of one every Tuesday

FOREX Pub Quiz 2016 2Trivia Night at The Forex Bar

Test your general knowledge at this Observatory-based haunt’s Tuesday pub quiz

The Piano Bar Burger and Beer Special in Cape TownBurger and Beer Special at The Piano Bar

Visit this jazzy eatery and bar on any Tuesday for a burger (or pizza) and free beer

HintHunt Escape Game LogoCape Town’s Most Mysterious Tourist Attraction: HintHunt

Be sure to add this exhilarating live group escape game challenge to your Mother City bucket list

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Team Building Cape TownTeam Building with Battlefield Live SA

Corporates become commandos in this adrenaline-inducing, morale-boosting laser tag activity

AquilaConferences and Corporate Functions at Aquila Game Reserve

Bring your corporate family along to experience team building and business functions featuring the Big 5

The Village Idiot Restaurant & Bar in Cape TownTuesday Mates and Dates Restaurant Special at The Village Idiot in Cape Town

Bring a partner for a two-by-two weekly special at this popular inner city neighbourhood haunt

Boschendal Wine FarmPicnic Lunches at Boschendal Wine Farm

Delight in an alfresco feast at one of the most picturesque wineries in the Cape Winelands

table mountain chocolate 3Table Mountain Chocolate Bar Special

Buy five of the flat-topped bars and pay for four when you mention CapeTownMag

mischuFree Coffee Beans and Capsules at mischu Coffee Shop in Sea Point

Simply mention CapeTownMagazine.com while placing an order of coffee beans or capsules today and score a freebie

Kaapse Stories at The Rockwell Theatre“Kaapse Stories” at The Rockwell Dinner Theatre

Supper and Stage make for a delectable evening’s entertainment

Dizzys Camps BayDizzys Tight Ass Tuesday Karaoke Nights

'Bray' the night away with some super specials to lubricate your lungs

Live Jazz Music at Asoka on TuesdayLive Jazz at Asoka Restaurant

Turn your Tuesday up a notch with this trendy hotspot’s vibey dinner and music offering

mavericksHave a Big Night Out at Mavericks Gentlemen’s Club

Score entry, a beer, a burger and a table dance for less than you’d expect at this Mother City revue bar

HQ Date performerTuesday Romantic Date Night at HQ Restaurant

Treat your loved one to an evening of succulent steaks, red wine and romantic ambiance at this Parisian-inspired Cape Town steakhouse’s #HQDateNight special

Manga Sushi 22-for-1 Sushi Special at Manga Restaurant

Save on sashimi, salmon roses and more every Tuesday at this contemporary Asian fusion hotspot in Mouille Point

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