A Music Lover's Guide to Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian musicians
Malaysian musicians | © Sham Hardy / Flickr
Sarah Anne Lee

Music is a unifying medium for everyone, regardless of culture or creed. Kuala Lumpur has a music scene as diverse as its multicultural population and here, we guide you to some of the best spots to visit, so you don’t miss out on the talented bands and DJs based in Malaysia’s capital.

Gaslight Cafe & Music

Presenting a myriad of musical genres and also other types of art, Gaslight Cafe is the place to go for Malaysia’s budding poets and dreamers. With decorative elements inspired by the 60s and a love for Bob Dylan’s era, this little place has a speakeasy vibe. Every night it offers something exciting—from open mike sessions, to live band performances, to readings of fiction and poetry; the latter of which also features in Gaslight’s signature monthly slam poetry competitions.

Whether to listen to folk, country, jazz or blues, or to trade vinyls and books, if you are a music or art lover, Gaslight is one venue you should not overlook. For a behind-the-scenes adventure, Gaslight opens in the afternoon for creative meetings and brainstorming sessions for performers and writers.

Gaslight Cafe & Music, 15 Plaza Damansara, Jalan Medan Setia 1, Bukit Damansara, KL, Malaysia, +60 3-2011 4047

https://www.instagram.com/p/_eRQYnQzdk/?taken-by=gaslightcafekl

Live Fact

A favorite for post-rock and alternative-rock bands and artists, Live Fact offers up its makeshift spaces for those seeking to perform. Professing to be an intimate space for gigs or simply rehearsals, this hall is a meeting point for auditory enthusiasts and artists. For both local and international talent, Live Fact’s ‘unconventional’ venue provides a great place to test audience reactions and to network. With such an interactive venue, visitors will be sure to witness hardworking, creative, musical talents.

Live Fact, Taman Danau Desa, KL, Malaysia, +60 12-377 8558

https://www.instagram.com/p/BE3CtIlQyyH/?taken-by=livefactkl

Rumah Api

Rumah Api is a sanctuary for the punk and hardcore metal subculture here in Malaysia. Shacked up in a shop house that possibly dates back to when Kuala Lumpur was a tin-mining town, this community keeps the grunge ideology alive and raw. These rough cuts also host an array of community service projects such as free markets, workshops in language, art and music, and a soup kitchen for the less fortunate. Delve into the intense passion of punk rock as you head bang to your heart’s content at one of their gigs and mingle with the tight-knit community.

Rumah Api a.k.a Gudang Noisy, Ampang, Malaysia, +60 12-970 2734

Under9

If you fancy the basic elements of a discotheque, head underground to Under9. With an eclectic collection of in-house techno, a dash of psytrance and other types of electronic music, this hidden gem—reminiscent of good old bunker raves—will be sure to please. Don’t come here expecting chart-topping tunes, the DJ’s have their own range of music they’re happy to introduce you to. A word of advice—go with someone who has already been here, as this basement party is really well hidden; finding it without prior experience might be an adventure on its own! If you’re lucky, you might stumble in on one of the days the venue is showcasing films or visual art.

Under9, 9 Jalan Bukit Nanas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRiO6iAAEuO/?taken-by=under9.kl

No Black Tie

Craving nostalgic tunes? No Black Tie has got you covered with their reputation as one of the best jazz and blues bar in Kuala Lumpur. A stone’s throw away from the famous Changkat street, this hot spot entertains those seeking music on the finer side. With a wooden-inlay interior and a homage to 1920s America, this club guarantees to provide a wholesome jazz experience alongside gastronomic and wine accompaniments.

No Black Tie, Jalan Nagasari & Jalan Mesui, Bukit Bintang, KL, Malaysia, +60 3-2142 3737

https://www.instagram.com/p/BRdbPvYgDy5/?taken-at=259641271

Alexis Bistro & Wine Bar

Perfecting the wine and dine experience, Alexis Bistro plays host to a large company of both local and international jazz artists every Friday and Saturday. Wind down on a weekend with original tunes, contemporary tributes to jazz legends such as Amy Winehouse or renditions of beloved classics, accompanied by an Italian or Asian meal.

Alexis Bistro & Wine Bar, 303 Jalan Ampang, Desa Pahlawan, KL, Malaysia, +60 3-4260 2288

https://www.instagram.com/p/BQXgFNbA-xc/?taken-by=alexisbistro

Merdekarya

Humorously calling themselves “merde karya” (a French word with a rather rude translation and a Malay word meaning artwork), this live music venue prides themselves in spurring the growth of local musical and performing talent while giving patrons a great place to hang out and enjoy gigs. One of the rare places to not charge entry, Merdekarya strives to make entertainment accessible for everyone. A fair warning though, creative freedom is absolute, and all sorts of topics will be bandied about, so order a beer and prepare to laugh yourself silly or be liberated from your day-to-day conservatives.

Merdekarya, 352 (First Floor), Jalan 5/57, Bukit Gasing, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, +60 16-207 1553

https://www.instagram.com/p/BIVBrGZgVCo/?taken-by=merdekarya

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