Whether you’re into jazz, rock, local indie, or folk, there’s just something about music that brings people together. Add drinks to the mix, and you know it’ll be a good night out.
From ol’ classic locales like Merdekarya, which serves up tuak and beer by the can, to hidden speakeasy venues with caged cocktails and whiskey flights, this World Music Day, we’re celebrating the joy of music with this list of the best restaurants and bars to hit up for live bands in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Klang Valley.
Founded in mid-2017, Fono officially opened its doors at the Zhongshan Building in KL in January 2018. The space has since been a home away from home for music, art, and film lovers alike, with events such as DJ sets, art galleries, and film screenings.
Get your dose of hip hop and themed beats (ranging from Malay Funk, yes, you read that right, to Afro & Latin Grooves) complete with a live percussionist in the current post-pandemic calendar.
Walk-ins are subject to availability, and booking is recommended, so hit them up on Instagram to check out their weekly line-up.
Address: 80, Jalan Rotan, Kampung Attap, 50460 Kuala Lumpur
Taps Beer Bar
Craft brew institutions have come and gone, but Taps Beer Bar shows remarkable tenacity with over 800 unique beers served. Like most niche businesses in KL, this one came about because there was an apparent absence of a dedicated craft brew bar.
With 14 beers on tap at any one time, a large blackboard is chalked up with what’s on offer. Looking for a taste before committing? Cajole the bartender for a sip before you order. The place is low-key, friendly with bare cement floors, exposed brick walls, and, of course, a moveable performance space.
Taps Beer Bar is particularly keen on supporting young and upcoming musicians, so expect live music on weekends. You might even catch the owner’s uncle jamming with his friends if you’re lucky enough!
Address: 1, Jalan Nagasari, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 2110 1560
Jalan Bangkung’s resident piano bar, Bobo KL, plays host to a modern European dinner at the restaurant on the first floor. With signage on the ground floor that reads “Life is better upstairs,” you know there’s more than just an eatery afoot.
From the restaurant, get upstairs via a discreet staircase to find an oh-so-stylish cocktail bar that couples as a music lounge. Sean Ghazi, the artistic director in charge of the music programming here, curates a cool jazz vibe, but they’re not a jazz bar, not really.
Performances focus on easy-listening music such as oldies and musicals with some past performers that includes the likes of Elvira Arul, Tony Eusoff, and Dasha Logan.
Address: 65-1 Jalan Bangkung, 53300 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 2092 5002
No live music list of KL is complete without the OG music venue in the city. Known to be the people’s music venue (no, not just because of its cheap drinks and no-fuss ambience), anyone and everyone can play here. As they say so themselves, if God and the Devil both showed up for the open mic nights, they’d both get their 10 minutes each.
After three years since they first started, Merdekarya has upgraded by soundproofing the space, adding extra stage lights and improving their sound. Although they’ve had some close calls over the years with the pandemic, they’re still going strong with monthly shows on their website.
The music on offer is usually acoustic, but check ahead, and you might find yourself rocking out to a band or swaying to a jazz crooner.
Address: 1st Floor, 352 Jalan 5/57, Section 5, 46000 Petaling Jaya
Contact: +6018 661 4553
The Bee Publika
So much more than just food and drink, The Bee is also KL’s go-to for a vibrant showcase of talents. The space has played host to disco-themed nights, experimental dining theatre, comedy acts, quiz nights and many international performers, including Onra, The Temper Trap, and Tennyson.
While pandemic restrictions may have put a damper on the live music front, as of 2022, The Bee is back at it again, so keep an eye on their socials for more info on upcoming shows.
Address: Level G2, Publika, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 6201 8577
The Garage KL
Perhaps better known for its hipster-esque decor, cool container structures, and overall industrial vibe, The Garage KL also hosts live bands! Most of the performers play indie music or acoustic rock jams, but there’s been a little bit of everything played on their stage.
After all, their description says there are cultures and subcultures everywhere, and The Garage caters to them all. And if you’ve got a sweet tooth, don’t forget to order a side of their monster freakshakes to go with your music night.
Address: 841 Jalan Hulu Kelang, Hillview, 68000 Ampang, Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 4266 9776
A night at Suzie Wong’s captures the glamourous and hedonistic spirit of Hong Kong‘s bar scene in the 50s. A bold blend that streaks enigma, the speakeasy is tucked ingeniously amongst the buildings in Jalan Raja Chulan.
Don’t be confused when you’re greeted by a vintage stall complete with a ‘wanton noodle’ signage, wooden bench, and tables — this is the entrance to Suzie Wong. Once you get behind the doors, think: a dramatically decked-out main stage, lounge sofas, birdcage chandeliers, and neon signage to name a few details. Live acts range from bands, acoustic performances, and cabaret-themed shows!
Address: Wisma Lim Foo Yoong, 86, Jalan Raja Chulan, 50250 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +6017 2266 480
The Iron Fairies KL
Taking its cues from a fantasy where ore miners stumble upon little-winged spirits and walls lined with vials of fairy dust, The Iron Fairies KL interprets this vision across three spaces.
From the enchanting outdoor rooftop Fairy Garden, the dark enclosed Butterfly Room, and the deep underground into the cast iron space resembling an iron mine with a mythical twist.
Expect daily happy hour deals, ladies’ night promos on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and live bands and DJ sets from Wednesdays through Saturdays.
Address: Trec, 438 Jalan Tun Razak, 50400 Kuala Lumpur
Contact: +603 2110 5095 or +6016 221 3612
Pisco Bar KL
A South American-themed restaurant and bar offering a unique blend of Peruvian and Spanish inspiration, Pisco Bar KL also happens to furnish guests with live music nights on top of regular performances by local and international DJs.
If it’s outstanding cocktails you are looking for, then expect to be in for a treat when exploring this cool bar just off of KL’s party street.
Address: 29, Jalan Mesui, Off Jalan Nagasari, 50450 Kuala Lumpur.
Contact: +603 2142 2900