Hamburg not only boasts an exciting and diverse nightlife, it is also becoming a hub for excellent live performances. In these bars across the city you can enjoy great live concerts up close and, in some cases, without paying a dime.
Bar, German, $$$
Located at the heart of the trendy and alternative Sternschanze district, the Kulturhaus 73 is a must-visit venue. The cultural center is, in fact, several venues that together offer a unique and lively musical programme. The big hall is a popular event location and perfect for enjoying unplugged concerts. The “Jolly Jumper” is known for its monthly open jam sessions and DJ sets. While on Fridays and Saturdays, the Kleiner Donner micro-club in the basement hosts great hip-hop and electronica concerts.
Just around the corner, under the Sternbrücke railway bridge, lies the Astra Stube – a cult live music venue. It may look a little shady from the outside but the best underground locations often do. The bar is a perfect location for discovering new local and international bands, playing punk, indie, folk, and new wave music. The space is small, so the patrons and the music often spread out into the street, enjoying a typical Hamburg party night underneath passing trains.
The relocation of the trendy freundlich + kompetent to the district of Barmbek has put the east side of Alster on Hamburg’s nightlife map. Almost 1,000 people celebrated the opening day events back in 2015. Live music is the bar’s heart and soul – musicians and bands perform here regularly, covering a wide range of musical styles, from rock and pop to ska and hip-hop. The best part: entrance is always free.
Live music, free entrance, and Tatort evenings are also the rule at the Pony Bar, located in the lively university district. The popular student bar is set out to promote cultural events and young artists. The stage of the back room hosts a diverse music programme that stretches from singer-songwriter performances, to hip-hop open mic nights and contemporary jazz evenings. The Pony Bar is also known for its great DJ sets and art and photo exhibitions which change monthly.
The famous red light and party district of St. Pauli is also home to several great live music bars. Among these is the Pooca Bar, known for its international performances and its young party crowd. The location has over 350 concerts under its belt, representing an eclectic selection of musical styles. Pooca Bar hosts weekly open stage nights, a project for new bands known as the Pooca Circus, and every weekend the stage is taken over by German and international live music acts.
From the interior to the music, a 1960s spirit reigns at the Hörsaal just off the Reeperbahn. Among retro wallpapers and disco balls, the dance floor moves to funk, soul, and classic party songs. Also the live music programme reflects the bar’s retro style and welcomes mainly young musicians covering a wider range of musical styles. Every month the Hörsaal hosts open stage nights when anyone is welcome to take the stage and show the audience what they’re good at.
The popular Thomas Read on the west end of the Reeperbahn is part-Irish pub, part-club, part-live concert venue. The small stage on the pub floor invites listening to solo musicians while nursing a pint of beer or a glass of whiskey. The large stage on the industrial-style live floor hosts bigger bands and offers plenty of dancing space for the party crowd. At the Thomas Read there is live music almost every day, and two live acts play every Friday and Saturday.
For listening to live music in a unique atmosphere look no further than the Prinzenbar. The baroque–style bar, adorned by chandeliers, cherubs, and stucco elements, makes for an intimate and unforgettable concert venue. The music here is a mix of electronica, house, indie, funk, reggae, and hip-hop. The Prinzenbar can, without a doubt, be counted among the city’s special locations for enjoying concerts by famous musicians and rising stars as well as great DJ sets.
In the center of the city lies the Cotton Club, Hamburg’s oldest address for listening to great jazz music. The club regularly hosts both German and international musicians, and has welcomed several world stars over the years. The daily live music repertoire ranges from different jazz styles to blues, soul, big band and swing. The Cotton Club is perfect for those seeking a relaxing evening accompanied by good music. Lovers of live jazz and blues concerts should also check out the famous Birdland and the scenic Downtown Blues Club.