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- Posted:Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Whether you want to get down’n’dirty in Austin or stay up all night in Berlin, live music is an unforgettable way to get to know any city’s secret rhythms. But what cities have the best gigs? Here's five of our favourites...
Berlin is known for its legendary minimalist techno clubs like Berghain and Watergate. But you'll find good music everywhere from tiny corner bars to the big outdoor plazas. If you're going clubbing, don't start drinking too early as the clubs don't even start to fill up until 3am and the night lasts until at least 9am. Berlin is really the place if you have the endurance for dancing for days on end; not ready for bed on Sunday morning? Berghain keeps going all day and into Sunday night.
There are several high-quality record shops selling local DJs on vinyl—take your new discoveries home with you when your visit is over!
Austin, Texas, USA
Is country, jazz or indie Americana your thing? Head for Austin, an oasis of live music and glorious weirdness in Texas. Every March the city hosts SXSW and is stuffed to the brim with unsigned bands trying to make it big. Austin is a great place for local music all year 'round, though.
Sundays are for ‘Chicken Shit Bingo’ at Ginny's Little Longhorn Saloon, featuring roots country music and a busy bar. Meanwhile, at The Carousel Lounge you'll find a uniquely Austin blend of cabaret set in a Twin Peaks-esque setting...complete with a pink elephant onstage. In fact, eclectic seems to be the theme of much of Austin's nightlife, with jazz at Elephant Room, ‘cheap music, fast drinks and live women’ at Hole In the Wall and absolutely everything else at the Sahara Lounge.
London has been all about music since time immemorial...or at least since the Swinging 60s. From the Rolling Stones to the Sex Pistols to the Libertines, London has long been the hatching place for many a legendary rock band. Popular music may have changed much in recent years but one thing remains the same: London thrives with live music. Any night of the week you can head to The Dublin Castle in Camden to see three or four bands play for just £7. Meanwhile, in trendy Shoreditch, the Old Blue Last has the coolest up-and-coming acts seven nights a week and over the years has hosted acts like Sleigh Bells, Chelsea Wolfe, oOooO and more. In fact, Shoreditch is where you're most likely to see the NME's favourite bands just strolling around like it's no big deal.
Elsewhere in London, you'll easily be able to find electronica, cabaret, Irish trad and probably anything else you can think of.
Looking to dance the night away in the beautiful, warm seaside air? The Senegalese capital city Dakar is the centre of fashion, art and music in West Africa. Mbalax is the style of music and dance that permeates popular Senegalese music with its unique blend of jazz, soul, rock, Cuban rhythms and traditional sabar drumming. We dare you to try to not dance when you hear it live. Here you can catch local legend (and Grammy-winner) Youssou N'Dour playing with a mesmerising 10-piece band every Saturday night at 2am in his club Thiossane. Over at Just 4 U there's a more laid-back atmosphere, and you can sip a cocktail while watching local musicians do their stuff.
Grab a copy of listings magazine Le 221 when you arrive and take a nap in the heat of the afternoon—most gigs don't even start 'til after midnight.
The sheer size of Tokyo means that there's always something new to hear, any night of the week. The neighbourhoods of Shimokitazawa and Koenji are both hipster-style areas where musicians live, work and perform, so naturally you'll find tons of small live indie bars there. Shibuya-O East is the club to go for J-pop and mini-festival nights, while Hot House in Shinjuku is a tiny dive bar with live jazz - perfect if you prefer intimate settings.
Of course, not all is shiny and modern in Tokyo—head to Za Kōenji in Suginami to catch the occasional butō performance. Of course, if you prefer to be onstage rather than off, Shidax Village is an excellent karaoke joint that stays open until 5am.
What city do you think is best for live music? Tell us in the comments!