Much of Penang’s rising art scene reveals itself, not in paint and brush, but in notes and rhythm. Music is in high demand and certain places have made it a mission to provide as much live music as possible to the public. From the shores of Batu Ferringhi to the very heart of George Town, read on to find out about the venues on the island that hold regular live music events.
Hard Rock Hotel, Batu Ferringhi
The Hard Rock Hotel worldwide is synonymous with music, as its name suggests. In Batu Ferringhi, the chain brings a true sense of American rock culture to Penang with the many guitars, LP’s and photos lining its walls advertising some of history’s greatest rock stars such as Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.
What better place, then, to host a number of Malaysia’s best rock bands, live. Being a large hotel, Hard Rock offers two venues for live music. In the Lobby Lounge guests can enjoy a variety of events, depending on the night: games night, chill out and lobby retro night. However, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday the Lobby Lounge hosts live music from 07:45pm until 10:30pm, suitable for family and friends. If something a little more risqué is more your thing, head to the Hard Rock Café Penang for an over twenty-one experience. Hosting music from 10.15pm to 1.45am from Sunday to Thursday, and 10:30pm to 2:00am on Friday and Saturday, you can catch acts such as Deviate, MOL and Oceanline.
For more information, you can visit their constantly up-to-date website.
Address: Batu Ferringhi Beach, Batu Ferringhi, Penang
Contact: +60 4 firstname.lastname@example.org
Gusto Café – Tanjung Bungah
Moving closer to George Town, the leafy suburban tranquillity of Tanjung Bungah is regularly set alight by bands playing at Gusto Café. A hang-out and meet-up hub for residents of the area, Gusto Café has become a homely little spot loved by many. Their music events usually centre on indie and rock-centric bands – Acidic Bunch are very popular – and are compiling an impressive list of past music events that they are adamant will continue into the future.
They regularly offer live music every second and fourth Saturday night of the month. The bands vary, which makes a refreshing pick-and-mix of styles, performances and content, no doubt holding many surprises in store especially on open mic nights! If you want a less-structured, more homely feel to your music night, then Gusto Café is the place to go.
Address: 4 Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Contact: +60 4-890 4012
The Canteen, China House – Victoria Street, George Town
In the heart of Penang’s capital, surrounded by the murals that have set the city ablaze, China House is a go-to venue in George Town. In the rear of the complex compiled of three shophouses is The Canteen, the bar and music venue. The funky bar is the epitome of rustic chic, with a myriad of different comfortable seating areas including a grand piano, and a cosy environment to enjoy soothing sounds.
The Canteen offers a mix of jazz, indie and soul music by some of Penang’s most popular vocalists and their, usually, three or four piece bands. It is almost impossible to miss a set, as they offer live music every single night of the week. Due to China House’s impressive array of 14 spaces comprising shops, cafes, restaurant, galleries, live music and bakery, you can attend a music event for any purpose – from pre-drinks before meeting friends in town to a little digestive after dinner and maybe a cake or two.
Address: 183B Victoria Street, George Town, Penang
Contact: +604 – 263 email@example.com
Mike’s Place – Love Lane, George Town
In an area of George Town that is fast becoming known as backpacker central, the narrow, one-way Love Lane is a centre of energy, nightlife and, of course, music.
Mike’s Place is, probably, the most frequent venue for live music in George Town. Albeit slightly impromptu, with no schedule to speak of, there is a good chance that if you are passing by you will see the bar – serving the best spicy chicken wings in town – bulging at the seams with people applauding and encouraging a music act. Much like the schedule, there is little structure to the format of the acts as well. As a small place – its walls strewn with graffiti – they usually host one singer and his, or her, guitar with, maybe, a drum accompaniment. Either way, as the night draws on, it is not unusual for patrons to pick up the mic for a song or two – if they can brave the discerning public’s vocal critique of their talent. If the idea of singing in front of a crowd is too daunting – don’t worry! Music artists usually encourage the crowd to sing along later in the evening – in fact, the crowd usually does, whether encouraged or not.
You can be sure to catch a set on any Friday and Saturday , and even during the week, if you are lucky.
Address: 94, Love Lane, George Town, Penang
Contact: +60 12-493 8279
These are but a few of the venues where you can listen to live music in George Town and Penang Island. Like the proliferation of art in George Town, live music is becoming ubiquitous, and seems like something Penangites cannot go without, in this day and age. So, while bearing these suggestions in mind, do not be afraid to venture out and explore the city at night with your ears. You will be surprised at what you may find.