Even with the rise of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, nothing will ever beat the feeling of catching one of your favorite bands live at an intimate venue.
There’s the fact that you’re surrounded with people who have the same taste in music as you. There’s the excitement in only being a few feet away from the lead singer, and the possibility of even running into him or her while in line for the bathroom.
But with so many bar and gig places in the Metro, you may be wondering where exactly in Manila is the best place to catch a show. Don’t worry, we’ve compiled a list of five bars, with some catering to a specific genre, where you can catch your favorite local acts.
1. Black Kings Bar x Cafe
Black Kings Bar is one spot that caters to a very specific kind of crowd — if you consider yourself a fan of mosh pits, head banging, angry vocals, and extremely loud guitar solos, look no further!
A night at Black Kings will show you that there is a metal music scene in the country, and it’s alive and kicking. You can also catch shows here by groups like Typecast and Chicosci as well as a few indie bands. Keep an eye out for the Basagan Nights and Rakrakan Festival, hardcore music nights organized by the bar’s owners.
You can find Black Kings Bar at Unit 101 Westlife Building, 107 West Ave, Quezon City.
2. Conspiracy Garden Cafe
If your idea of a perfect Saturday night is winding down with an acoustic soundtrack, then you should really pay a visit to this small and cozy cafe along Visayas Avenue.
Acts like Kitchie Nadal and Ebe Dancel are regulars at Conspiracy Garden Cafe, performing stripped-down versions of their popular songs. If you’re more of a fan of folk music, make sure to watch out for gigs by artists like Cynthia Alexander, Joey Ayala, and Noel Cabangon, who also call this venue their second home.
Live music isn’t the only thing you can find at Conspiracy. The cafe also plays host to spoken word performances and poetry readings.
Conspiracy Garden Cafe can be found at 59 Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.
3. Route 196
Small and cramped. Route 196 is everything that you imagine a bar catering to the college crowd would be.
Arguably the place to be seen at on a Friday night for university students, Route 196 is a second home for many up and coming college acts, like PerkyWasted and BP Valenzuela. Local favorites like Up Dharma Down and Barbie Almalbis are regulars here too.
Watch out as well for events like Terno Inferno, a tie-up show with Terno Recordings, and Gold Soundz, touted to be a crash course on the alternative music scene in Katipunan.
Route 196 is located at 196 -A Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.
4. Saguijo Bar & Cafe
Considering that it’s been around for more than a decade, it’s no surprise that Saguijo Bar and Cafe is now an institution for the local music scene. Most of the popular acts today have played at least one show in this tiny bar in Makati.
And many of them still do gigs here. You can catch shows by established acts like Sandwich and Pupil as well as indie groups like Taken by Cars and The Ransom Collective. Just make sure to leave your music snobbery at the door, as Saguijo prides itself as being a community for all kinds of music lovers.
You can find Saguijo Bar & Cafe at 7612 Guijo St., San Antonio Village, Makati.
5. Today x Future
Just a few blocks from hipster haven Cubao X is Today x Future, a bar, art gallery, restaurant all rolled into one. It’s a place where you can drink and eat, pick up a few vinyl records, and of course, catch a gig.
Unlike the other places on this list, Today x Future doesn’t really have a set genre for its musical acts. You can find yourself chilling to an indie jazz band’s set on a Tuesday night and then bopping to an electronica mix by a local DJ at 3 AM on Saturday. It is this kind of unpredictability that makes Today x Future such a great place to watch a gig. You really never know what you’re going to get.
Today x Future can be found at 7-T Gen. Malvar St., Cubao, Quezon City.