Live music flourishes in Berlin, with hundreds of venues showcasing every genre of music imaginable on a nightly basis, often with much cheaper cover charges and tickets than in other European cities. Here are our top five choices for unique live music venues where you are guaranteed to have a good time, whether you live for punk bands, only love reggae or can’t get enough indie!
Wild At Heart
Wienerstrasse 20 +49 30 610 747 01.
Rockabilly aficionados the world over regularly list Wild at Heart as their favorite music venue. For twenty years, this Kreuzberg boozer has hosted bands visiting from all four corners of the globe, specializing in punk, psychobilly, garage and surf. The décor of the bar itself is as much of a draw as the musical acts – bedecked with tschotskes and midcentury knick-knacks with a special emphasis on Elvis memorabilia. If you don’t fancy having your eardrums blasted by rock n’ roll, you can always spend time at the Tiki Heart nextdoor, a café and clothing shop from the same owners.
Cuvrystraße 7, +49 30 69 56 68 40
Love indie rock music, but can do without the ‘billy?’ Then don’t worry - you are spoiled for choice in Berlin, particularly Kreuzberg. This neighbourhood was home to David Bowie and Iggy Pop in the ‘70s when they were producing some of their most acclaimed (and drug-addled) work, and so it is no surprise that today’s alternative musicians flock to the many live music gigs in the area. The Lido is located in a converted 1950’s cinema, and is always a safe bet for a great night. Saturday nights’ Karrera Klub is an institution, a live rock gig followed by an indie electropop dance party that rages until the sun comes up. Regular gigs can be anything from the avant garde spoken word of Lydia Lunch to the modern freak folk of Kurt Vile, and the crowd is cool, stylish and lacking pretention.
Revaler Straße 99, +49 30 74078597
If the idea of partying all night in a cramped rock bar sounds less than fun, a nice alternative is Urban Spree, a converted warehouse area that houses art galleries, food trucks, community gathering spaces and live music. You’ll be rubbing elbows with some of Berlin’s most exciting young artists and musicians, but the crowd skews slightly older (it is not unusual to see young, hip families here for a wholesome evening out). Concerts, both inside and outdoors, are regular occurrences, and can be treated as the main attraction or a backdrop to the other activities onsite. You’ll love the music – as long as your mind is open! The genres of choice do tend to be experimental (think ‘electro acid jazz world noise music’), but occasionally a chart topper is on the bill.
A-Trane International Jazz Club
Pestalozzistrasse 105, +49 30 3132 550
Now for something completely different – jazz. You may not associate Berlin with the music of the American South, but jazz lovers often cite the A-Trane as one of the best jazz clubs on the planet. This is a venue for serious music lovers, and the heaviest hitters of the modern jazz world have graced its stage: Diana Krall, Ray Brown and Arthur Blythe. A-Trane hosts jam sessions on weekends, and live music 7 nights a week – their website notes that while on Sunday to Thursday they are open until 2am, on Friday and Saturday they stay open “late” – this is a big night of music with the best in the business. Best of all? The drinks are affordable and there is no cover charge for jam sessions.
Dircksenstraße 40, +49 30 69505287
Describing their club as “Funk, soul, hip hop, rap, disco, reggae and soca – Black music in Berlin Mitte,” Bohannon (named after Stevie Wonder’s legendary drummer) is the place to head if you want to hear live hip hop from both international artists and from the burgeoning Berlin scene. It’s a small and intimate place, with only a 100 person capacity – a personal vibe that makes it even more special when huge acts such as KRS One take the stage. There are DJs and dance parties every night, but check their calendar for the most up to date live music listings.
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Written by Jessica O’Neill