Busan’s indie music scene is booming. With creative people all around the city, there’s no shortage of live music nights — if you know where to go. Luckily, Culture Trip is here to help! Here’s our primer on the best venues in Busan.
A stalwart on the Busan music scene, the Basement is a long-running pub and music venue in the heart of the thriving area around Pusan National University (PNU). It’s known by expats and Koreans alike for promoting great independent music from Korea and beyond. The bar also has cheap drinks and a welcoming, inclusive vibe – at the venue’s frequent gigs, you’ll often see bar staff and owner Liam on the dance floor. Head upstairs for comfy sofas and a more intimate space with a bird’s-eye view of the performance.
Since 2011, Someday has been a popular space for local (and less local) indie musicians to play. The bar and venue was refurbished in 2017 and is now an even better place to drink a few beers and watch some great bands. It’s on the same street as PNU’s other legendary bar, the Basement. The venue is youthful (as you might expect from a student area), vibrant, and hip, and there’s plenty of live music to be heard here.
A famous expat hangout in Busan, HQ Gwangan is located right on Gwangalli beachfront, and has a great view of Gwangan Bridge (illuminated at night). The bar has a good selection of drinks (of particularly good value are the draught beers by Seoul craft brewers Platinum), a hearty Western menu, and it runs weekly trivia nights. It also has frequent live music performances — often without a cover charge. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates.
One of the longest running bars in Busan, Vinyl Underground has live music playing every weekend. It’s located in the Kyungsung University/Pukyong National University area (not too far from Gwangalli), and offers performances in a wide variety of genres. Whether your jam is rock and roll and jazz, or hip-hop and house, you’re sure to find something to tickle your fancy at this well-established venue.
An easy-going venue with a friendly, English-speaking staff, Club MONK – named after the famous Thelonious – is a great place to wind down with a glass of wine and some mellow music. Established in 1998, the bar hosts daily jazz performances from 9–11pm every day except Sunday, and the occasional rock or Latin night. Check the bar’s unofficial Facebook page for upcoming events.
Just across the street from Someday, you’ll find Club Interplay. This basement venue is a regular stop-off point for Korean bands embarking on national tours, and — a little scruffy round the edges — feels like it has been well-loved. Music generally falls somewhere on the blues-folk-rock spectrum, and the venue has hosted foreign artists such as Perfume Genius. You can keep an eye on its Facebook page, where events are sporadically posted, but much better is to pop by and take a look at the posters hanging up in the venue’s stairwell. For Korean speakers, there are normally a number of local indie music-focused free magazines and zines by the door, as well as a few flyers in English.