All that jazz
This beloved name in the jazz scene is a great place to listen to a range of musicians from all walks of life. The buzzing ambience lends an air of excitement to the evening, and the venue is also linked to the JZ School for musicians, so there’s a constant influx of unique talent. Just be ready for a relatively pricey drink list. Check the performance schedule here.
JZ Club, B1/F, 158 Julu Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 53098221
A loungy, upscale jazz club, Heyday ticks all the boxes for a stylish night of music. On most nights, you’ll find creative cocktails mixed by expert bar masters for a chic clientele, who gather around tables and nibble on finger food. On stage, talented musicians sing in an intimate space that aptly evokes that glamorous Old Shanghai atmosphere. On weekends, call ahead for a table, as the venue gets crowded quickly.
Heyday, 50 Tai’an Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 6236 6075
House of Blues and Jazz
Despite sitting in prime Bund real estate, the House of Blues and Jazz has maintained a low-key atmosphere that’s all about good music and good company. There’s a rotating cast of performers on stage singing (as the name suggests) a selection of blues and jazz music to an (in general) older crowd of locals and expats. While the drinks are expensive ($10–15 a pop), there’s never a cover charge at the door. Check their website for a more detailed performance schedule.
House of Blues and Jazz, 60 Fuzhou Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 6323 2779
Fairmont Hotel Jazz Bar
Set in Victor Sassoon’s famous hotel, the Fairmont Peace Hotel was the place to be in the 1930s and 40s. Today, you can have a little taste of the former glory at the Jazz Bar. At 6.30 pm nightly, the Old Jazz Band gets on stage, made up of octogenarians, many of whom played music at the original club. As you might imagine, it’s a decidedly downtempo affair, but heartwarming and fun. It’s good to experience at least once during your time in the city. On weekends, it may be worth making a reservation.
Fairmont Peace Hotel, 20 East Nanjing Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 6321 6888
One of Shanghai’s oldest gig venues, Yuyintang (aka YYT) is all about live performances and incubating talent. The stage is set in an intimate, industrial space where grunge rockers feel right at home, and you’ll find a regular list of Chinese and international underground bands, with the occasional pop indie appearance now and then. Come here for the fun crowd and to hear something new. Check here for performance updates.
Yuyintang, 851 Kaixuan Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 5237 8662
Inferno is the only place in Shanghai where you can find a steady diet of heavy metal music, served up with a side of headbanging, strong cocktails, and horror videos on the screens. It is a well-beloved venue, one of the few places in Shanghai where people can come and really let their hair down (and whip it all around) while drinking beer and getting rowdy – even if it’s only to Black Sabbath on the speakers. Check here for performance updates.
Inferno, Unit 6-103, Bund Square, No.01, 658 Dapu Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 6323 5608
For larger scale (but still relatively intimate) shows, head to Mao Livehouse, another staple of the live music community. Here, you’ll find a varied list of shows that range from rock bands to pop to DJs and electronic music. Managers do a good job of showcasing a broad range of talent, both established and up-and-coming. Check here for performance updates.
Mao Livehouse, 308 South Chongqing Road, Shanghai, China, +86 21 6445 0086
The Pearl is one of Shanghai’s more unique spots to catch a performance. Set in an atmospheric and historic old theatre (in the atmospheric and historic district of Hongkou), the stage features both music and theatre performances put on by local artists. They’re also very fond of theme nights and often encourage audience participation. Check the performance schedule here.
The Pearl, 471 Zhapu Road, Shanghai, China, +86 137 6488 9962