If you’re looking for a rollicking night of live tunes, ice-cold booze and opportunities to rub shoulders with fellow music lovers, you’re certainly in the right city. Singapore is home to a stalwart community of veteran musicians, budding local bands and soulful singers, many of whom showcase their talents at various live music bars and venues.
Whether you’re into the soulful strains of blues, the complex harmonies of jazz or infectious pop melodies, there’s bound to be a venue on this list that’ll get you grooving along to the music that you love.
Besides being an enclave rich in Malay culture and heritage, the district of Kampong Gelam is home to hip boutiques, charming bars and quaint cafes, many of which can be found along the narrow streets of Haji Lane.
Take a stroll down this colourful byway and keep your eyes peeled for this cosy bar and café. As its name suggests, Going Om is inspired by the spirit of the Himalayan mountains, and is a sanctuary from the bustle of the city. The word ‘Om’ refers to a sacred sound that has its roots in Hinduism, and which is also chanted in Buddhist, Jain and Hindu mantra.
Feel-good vibes abound at this establishment, with live music performances that tend to spill out onto the streets on busy nights. The establishment’s motley crew of talented local buskers tend to play acoustics sets, covering Top 40s, pop classics and soft rock numbers.
Music lovers interested to explore New Age spirituality should also check out the range of services offered at the establishment, which include tarot card-reading, yoga and meditation classes.
Going Om. 63 Haji Lane, Singapore 189256. +65 6396 3592. Tue–Thu & Sun noon–midnight; Fri & Sat noon–1am.
Timbre X @ The Substation
A much-beloved platform for local bands and aspiring young acts, Timbre X @ The Substation is the flagship live music venue of the Timbre Group, and is widely recognised as the home for Singaporean musicians.
Located right next to the lush greenery of Fort Canning Park, this open-air venue provides a casual, laid-back space for those looking to enjoy live music, indulge in an ice-cold beer and grab some delicious bar nosh.
The bar’s resident bands are all excellent musicians, but we personally recommend visiting on either a Tuesday or Friday night to catch 53A in action. One of Singapore’s most established cover bands, this six-piece group has been playing the local music circuit for 15 years, and is known for its pitch perfect covers of genre classics, spanning rock, punk, jazz and Top 40s hits.
This local music haven boasts state-of-the-art performance equipment, including stellar stage, sound and lighting systems. Drop by for an enhanced live music experience, and feel free to text your song requests to Timbre’s number (or do it old-school by scribbling it on a napkin).
Timbre X @ The Substation. 45 Armenian Street, Singapore 179936. +65 6338 8030.
Mon-Thu 6pm-1am; Fri 6pm-2am; Sat 6pm-3am.
If Top 40s tunes and live acoustic music is your jam, be sure to spend an evening at Acid Bar. Nestled amidst the colourful shophouses and bustling watering holes of Emerald Hill, this establishment is a favourite haunt of local musicians and acoustic acts.
The setlists here comprise mostly mellow acoustic numbers and covers of both classics and Top 40s hits, making it a great pitstop for those looking to kick back and relax after a long day of shopping.
Peranakan Place. 180 Orchard Road, Singapore 238846. +65 6738 8828.
Mon–Thu & Sun 5pm–1am; Fri & Sat 5pm–2am.
Get your dose of jazz, blues and soulful improvisation at Cool Cats, an establishment pays homage to the genres’ long legacies. With its classy décor and laidback vibes, this dedicated jazz bar will transport you back to the era of The Great Gatsby.
The bar’s stage has been graced by bands and singers from all over the world, including Australian jazz legend James Lloyd Morrison. Be sure to keep an eye out its resident bands and local talent like former Singapore idol finalist Mathilda D’Silva and bossa nova singer Dawn Ho.
Besides its stellar musicians, Cool Cats also boasts a menu of inspired tipples, with cocktails that evoke the name of jazz greats like Charlie Parker and Billie Holiday.
The NCO Club. 32 Beach Road, Singapore 189764. +65 6818 1920.
Hard Rock Café
For classic American grub and a rollicking good time in the heart of the city, head down to the iconic Hard Rock Café.
Despite its name, this world-famous establishment boasts music from a range of other genres. Regular acts include soulful acoustic duo Ngak and David, reggae band Bushmen and the psychedelic Holy Roller And The Smoking Guns.
HPL House. 50 Cuscaden Road #02-01, Singapore 249724. +65 6235 5232.
Mon–Thu & Sun 11.30am–11pm; Fri & Sat 11.30–1am.
Wala Wala Café Bar
Knock back an ice-cold pint of beer and be regaled by catchy tunes from an eclectic range of genres, from Peep Show’s retro cover to Jack and Rai’s melodious acoustic numbers.
Wala Wala Café Bar. 31 Lorong Mambong, Singapore 277689. +65 6462 4288.
Mon-Thu 4pm-1am; Fri 4pm-2am; Sat 3pm-2am; Sun 3pm-1am.