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Live Music Venues to Make Your Ears Bleed

By Jun 12, 2019 Nightlife

The Mixing Room

Mercedes-Benz Arena, 1200 Shibo Da Dao, near Shangnan Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

Nestled on the side of the massive Mercedes Benz arena right next to Expo Park is an upscale, mid–sized venue that hosts everyone from pop stars to the occasional Chinese rock bands. Notable acts that have played here include Nile Rogers, Diplo, and Avenged Sevenfold. They've also been known to host tribute acts like the recent Aretha Franklin gig sung by Cherry Brown. Basically, they just host one-off events, so don't make the trip out there unless you know something is on.

Bandai Namco Dream Hall

179 Yichang Lu, near Jiangning Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

Bandai Namco Dream Hall is a huge, government–funded music and cultural center that includes one large performance hall, one mid–size performance hall, dance studios, recording studios, and a courtyard for small outdoor performances. By any standards, it's an impressive complex. Sound quality never disappoints. Music is mostly touring rock, pop, folk, and metal bands along with occasional hip hop, world, or electronic music events, and it's also used for Chinese opera and classical musical performances.

Inferno (Bund Square)

Bund Square, Unit 6-103, 1/F, 658 Dapu Lu, near Longhua Dong Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

Before it was a livehouse, Inferno on Yongjia Lu was Shanghai's main drinking hole for metalheads and rockers of all types. When Inferno 1.0 was finally ousted by their not-so-friendly neighbors, the natural transition was to add live bands to the equation for the 2.0 version. Don’t let the strip mall setting deter you. Just two doors down from the Dairy Queen lies Shanghai’s evilest peddler of dark rock arts. The staff are music fans themselves and it's mostly friendly except for the odd shirtless, dreadlocked punter looking for sparring partners. Capacity's about 300, ??Inferno's got one of the best beer selections in town, and even does quality mixed drinks.

On Stage

A2, Lane 570, Huaihai Xi Lu, near Hongqiao Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

On Stage is set in the increasingly dilapidated, government–funded sculpture park Red Town (where the original Shanghai Mao Livehouse was). It's for the more refined Chinese music fan with many interests, like post-rock, jazz, folk, world music, and even metal, and consequently, plays a mixture of local and touring rock, folk, metal, jazz, hip hop, and more. Capacity's about 400, and there's a small selection of beers and mixed drinks available. Cocktails not suggested.

Live Bar

800 Guoshun Dong Lu, near Shuangyang Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

Legend has it that Live Bar is older than time itself. For at least 10 years, the Yangpu venue has been the respectable alternative to the bourgeoisie inner-ring establishments. If you are looking to find the building blocks of Shanghai’s rock scene then Live Bar is a great place to see how it all got started. Music is solidly rock and metal; mostly local / domestic, playing to a crowd of locals and students, with a capacity of about 200. Drinks are cheap beers and mixed drinks.

SF Club

5/F, Zhongshan Bei Lu, near Caoyang Lu View Listing Taxi Printout


B1/F, 230 Ruiping Lu, near Kaibin Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

From the makers of erstwhile live music staple On Stage, LOFAS is a livehouse in a mall in the West Bund area. LOFAS stands for "Life of Fun and Sustainability." Yup. It's a single-room venue with a slightly raised stage and a good sound system, dark and industrial looking space. The music program is eclectic. Fair amount of metal, but also DJ shows and out-of-town visitors.

Yuyintang Park

B1/F, 1398 Yuyuan Lu, near Dingxi Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

The second venue from Shanghai live-house icon Yuyintang. Built into a basement in the office building across from Zhongshan Park's main entrance, this one's a little bigger. They've poured a lot of effort into getting the space sound-optimized, installing shock-springs on the stage because apparently that helps the acoustics. On the menu; underground sounds, punk bands, hip-hop acts and a fair amount of unbridled revelry in keeping with the original.

Mercedes-Benz Arena

1200 Shibo Da Dao, near Shangnan Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

The former Shanghai World Expo Cultural Center with seating up to 18,000. It is Shanghai's premier concert venue. Bruno Mars, Queen, Iron Maiden, Troy Sivan, Disney on Ice, WWE... the rule of thumb is if it happens here, it's a big deal, and tickets are going to start at 280rmb and head north real fast. Best way to get there is by taxi or metro line 8 from China Art Museum station, from there it's less than 5 minutes walk.

Modern Sky Lab (Ruihong Tiandi)

3/F, Ruihong Tiandi 188 Ruihong Lu, near Tianhong Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

State of the art, mid-size livehouse run by one of China's biggest indie labels, Modern Sky (the same folks that used to bring you Strawberry Festival every year). Equipped with excellent sound, lighting, and LCD screens, this is a great place to see one of the many touring acts who pass through Shanghai. The venue is upstairs in a futuristic, open-air shopping mall in a cool Hongkou neighborhood. Just next door is their shop selling music memorabilia, books, albums, and some cool original clothing. Bookings range from live rock and hip hop to techno and occasional local shows.

MAO Livehouse

3/F, 308 Chongqing Nan Lu, near Jianguo Zhong Lu View Listing Taxi Printout

Spawned from the infamous Beijing Mao Livehouse, Shanghai's MAO opened in 2008 and is a go-to venue for medium to large scale shows. Sound quality can vary from show to show, depending on if the promoter put enough money into renting the backline gear. Mostly does touring rock, pop, folk, and metal bands along with occasional hip hop, world, or electronic music events, playing to a crowd of locals and expats (depending on the performance).


851 Kaixuan Lu, by Yan'an Xi Lu (Entrance behind the Metro Station) View Listing Taxi Printout

One of Shanghai’s oldest and most well–respected live music venues, Yuyintang provides a nice setting for checking out Shanghai’s best local bands along with touring acts. With a capacity of 400, this place primarily plays rock, folk, and metal, but also many domestic and international touring artists representing jazz, electronica, world music, hip hop and more. The crowd is a combination of locals and expats (depending on the performance).


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