Between the cheap drinks and the customers who all seem to be capable dancers, there’s little not to love about Spanish bars, but nothing beats the music. If you’ve had enough of reggaeton and emotional Latin ballads, or just need a night without hearing a single flamenco guitar all night, head to one of these Malasaña rock bars.
Ocean is not exactly a salubrious establishment, it is more like being in an actual gig jostling through a crowd with a plastic cup held above your head. But you’re here to rock, not for small talk. The walls are adorned with graffiti – not the type of Banksy-inspired art you might see in a hipster bar – more swear words written in marker pen. The drinks are also cheaper; ‘Copas desde 4€ every fucking night’ says a flyer, and this not the only deal. Bottle beers are €3 and a mini cerveza (around 700cl) €5.
Obsoleto styles itself as rock and jazz bar, but the aesthetic is more the latter than the former. It is decorated like a French bistro with monochrome photos of jazz singers adorning the walls. Patrons sit at marble top tables enjoying Estrella Gallicia on draft for €2. The music is definitely rock – including songs from the Kinks and The Cure – but you can still enjoy a conversation without inducing tinnitus. If you like rock music but want something more sophisticated than sitting on a speaker chugging snake bite, this is the place for you.
This rock bar has been a Malasaña institution since the 1990s. Like all great institutions, the clientele is up for a good time. At around 2 am it is dancing room only, with the crowd jiving along to classics such as ‘Little Green Bag’ by Resevoir Dogs. The music is more commercial rock, rather than the heavy variety kind which means you can enjoy a guitar riff without getting a nose bleed. Fancy a quiet drink, head to the back bar where a poster Jim Morrison looks down on you. No cover, bottled beer from €3.
Sideral is probably the biggest rock bar in Malasaña. The large upstairs bar has a cool and modern atmosphere, while downstairs it is darker and louder with a high curved ceiling and a DJ booth on the furthest side of the dancefloor – this is more distinctly rock. Unlike the other bars there is a cover on the weekend after 12am, €4 gets you entry and a beer and €7 will get you a copa and entry. Before 12am, there are various drinks offers, such as 6 small bottles of Mahou for €5 and mojitos for €4.
Freeway is like one of those Camden pubs that Blur and their crowd would drink at in the 1990s. It is a large, red-painted space that feels like an actual British pub rather than those ersatz ‘Irish bars’ that litter Sol. You can even get a pint, a rare find in the land of cañas and botellins. At the weekend, it’s free entry but be prepared to queue after 11. At the weekend, the downstairs dance floor is open. It is an intimate space with rather a low ceiling plastered with band posters.