Tired of listening to the same recorded tunes on music streaming platforms? Head to these five live music places in Singapore, where stellar local musicians give their take on your favourite tunes as you tuck into good food and drinks for a night out with friends.
1. 7 Tavern
01-15, 1 Goldhill Plaza
Nearest MRT station: Novena
Open: Monday to Thursday (4pm to 12am), Friday and Saturday (4pm to 1am)
The unassuming 7 Tavern occupies a cosy space in Goldhill Plaza, where the ambience is intimate yet fun and friendly. But don’t underestimate this neighbourhood bar. Come by on a weekend and you can expect a raucous crowd dancing and singing along.
On rotation are a mix of acoustic and full bands depending on the night you swing by the tavern. You might even spot homegrown artists such as Nyali and Daniel Sid strumming away on the guitar.
The bar bites are locally inspired and range from crispy pork belly (S$18++) and “wok hey” Hokkien mee (S$13++) to skewers such as charcoal chicken meatballs (S$6++ for two). Then make sure to inebriate with reasonably priced beer on tap to gear up for a night out with friends.
2. Level Up
3A River Valley Road, 02-04, Block A
Nearest MRT station: Clarke Quay
Open: Sunday to Thursday (5pm to 1am), Friday and Saturday (5pm to 3am)
Known for its arcade machines, snooker and beer pong tables, Level Up might not be new to the nightlife scene but continues to get our attention for its consistently great live music.
The high-energy bar is an audio and visual playground with things to do, eat and drink. If you’re not busy fighting it out on the Mortal Kombat machines, you can sit back and enjoy the live acts that range from full bands to DJs.
Level up with the ultimate bagel burger (S$26++) for mains and order the seafood mentaiko pizza (S$26++) for sharing. Happy hour runs daily from 5pm to 8pm, so come early to get seats or call to make a booking in advance (you’d need to for weekends) and take full advantage of the reasonable prices.
3. J Bar
M Hotel, Level 9, 81 Anson Road
Nearest MRT station: Tanjong Pagar
Open: Tuesday to Thursday (4pm to 1am), Friday and Saturday (4pm to 2am)
On the ninth floor of M Hotel Singapore, J Bar is in a quieter area of Tanjong Pagar, and has a contemporary and cosy interior, live music, a pool table, and an outdoor area overlooking the harbour — perfect for lounging and unwinding after a long day.
Music-wise, its playlist is a combination of new, top favourites and classics — a reflection of the varied crowd you’d find here. The tunes are played by local veterans with live bands playing from Wednesday to Friday, and DJs spinning on Friday and Saturday.
Look forward to good drinks here, too, as J Bar is tended by a knowledgeable bartending duo Robert and Princess. The happy hour here runs from 4pm to 8pm for those looking for an affordable option.
Additionally, look out for seasonal promotions with the current one being Oktoberfest till Oct 31. Aside from the obligatory pint of Erdinger (S$13++), food options include the Oktoberfest carnivore platter — crispy German pork knuckles, veal and chicken bratwurst, Thuringer snail sausage, premium Angus beef sirloin, sauerkraut and potatoes (S$58.80++).
40C Harding Road, Level 3
Nearest MRT station: Farrer Road
Open: Monday to Thursday (3pm to 12am), Friday and Saturday (3pm to 1am)
Opened by long-time jazz pianist Peter Ng (aka Mr P), Maduro is an unconventional, classy bar that’s filled with curated works of art, music, food and drinks.
Situated away from the main blocks at Dempsey Hill, it turns into a buzzy jazz music bar by night featuring a rotating line-up of Singapore’s top jazz acts across the generations.
Inspired by the many cigar bar deals Mr P closed in the UK, Maduro also has a by-invitation-only private den in the back that’s open only to those in the know.
Its cocktail bar offers tipples as eclectic and quirky as the music, such as the kopitiam gentleman — rye whiskey, charsiu reduction, gula melaka, orange bitters and bak kwa (S$25++), and pina-play — rum, spiced pineapple honey, ghost pepper and citrus medley (S$23++).
The kitchen dishes out French-inspired home-style cuisine that’s easy to snack on, allowing most of the attention to go to the live performances in front of you. Expect dishes such as cheese and bacon quiche (S$24++), and a cold cut platter — parma ham, saucisson, coppa and bread (S$35++).
5. Simply Live by Tin Box
73 Bras Basah Road, 01-01/02
Nearest MRT station: Bras Basah
Open: Wednesday to Saturday (5.30pm to 12am)
Simply Live By Tin Box brings you a star-studded line-up of musicians, who have performed for numerous live concerts and events including the recent One Love Asia Festival 2022.
The bar has seen up-and-coming singer-songwriters from nationwide contests such as SPOP to a veteran cast of instrumentalists who tour with some of Mandopop’s biggest names, such as JJ Lin, A-Mei, Li Rong Hao, David Tao and WeiBird.
Occasionally, you may even spot guest artistes such as Lai Ming Wei, Namewee, Kang Kang, Weibird, Shila Amzah and David Tao.
It’s the closest experience to a live concert you can get with your favourite Mandopop artistes (those who’ve been there and to OLAF 2022 can attest to this) and it’s no wonder the tables are quickly snapped up for most weekends.
Sing along to your favourite Mandopop hits while you snack on the Tin Box chicken wings (S$16++), and thin-crust gourmet pizza in the flavours of Hawaiian, mentaiko, oiishi teriyaki and satay chicken (S$24++).
Make your booking early if you’re heading there on the weekends (reservations open 14 days in advance), or opt for Wednesdays and Thursdays when it may be easier to snag a booking.
If Mandopop isn’t really your thing, the Tin Box Group has other music-focused concepts such as Simply Jazz and Simply Retro with English cover bands.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article has been updated to correct a line that mentioned the relationship between Tin Box Group and IMC Group Asia.