Beijing is home to one of the world’s most exciting live music scenes, with shows ranging from straight-up punk to blues and jazz to experimental techno on any given night. One key factor in keeping these scenes going is the myriad of venues, each with their own distinctive feel and character. Here are our picks for the best.
Yugong Yishan is Beijing’s most internationally renowned live house. Founded in 2004, Yugong Yishan’s first location was a vanishingly small space near the Sanlitun bar street. In July 2007, its original location was demolished for the Olympics, and in September that year, Yugong Yishan arrived in its current location, inside the former government building of Duan Qirui, a powerful warlord and politician during the 1920s. The 850 square meter space has a 500 to 700 person capacity and a five-meter wide stage. Previous acts to have played at Yugong Yishan include Peaches, Goldie, and the Raveonettes.
Address: Former Duan Qirui Government Building, No. 3-2 Zhangzizhong Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Phone: 0086 010 6404 2711
MAO Livehouse, located on Gulou East Street, is another of Beijing’s long standing livehouses, known by its mottled iron door. It opened its doors in 2007, and in the last two years, it has hosted hundreds of concerts. It is one of Beijing’s most professional rock venues.
Address: No. 111 Gulou East Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
Phone: 0086 010 6402 5080
Although the previous incarnation of XP (Xiao Ping) was the celebrated D22, XP is not simply an extension of D22. In the move from Wudaokou to Di’anmen, XP’s style has changed to focus on noise, improv, and experimental music, continuing and expanding on D22’s “Zoomin’ Nights.” The members of the independent bands under the Maybe Mars record label, which once enlivened D22, have begun to present their personal music projects at XP.
Address: No. 2 Di’anmen Xilou Alley, Xicheng District, Beijing (Behind the Qiulixiang chestnut stand)
Phone: 0086 010 6406 9947
Dusk Dawn Club, aka DDC, serves up drinks, live music and a solid context for good conversation, contemplation of the nature of reality, etc. This place gets significant points for décor. The mature antithesis of a dive, DDC has a nice stage in a long, wood-floored room that spills out into a gorgeous leafy courtyard in the classical mode. That courtyard is abutted by an attractive outdoor bar with a limited but well curated collection of brews, some local, and an activity room where you can chill or, like, you know, get some work done on your laptop, if that’s what you really want.
It’s not just music either. DDC reserves the right to hold photography, painting or mixed media exhibitions, and the team is into the idea of cultural “open sourcing,” which means they’re open to ideas if you want to hold an event.
Add: No.14 Shanlao Hutong, Dongcheng District, Beijing
In August 2015, the closure news of MAKO Livehouse shook the Chinese music industry. Lots of musicians and fans sighed about it and people even talked heatedly and rethought about the living conditions of music industry. To everyone’s surprise, MAKO Livehouse was reopened at its new location near Workers Stadium in October and the opening show was performed by Huun Huur Tu which was the most influential Tuva music band under StallionEra.
MAKO Livehouse selected to relocate near Workers Stadium. It did not choose rock, pop or folk, but word music. It also decided to work with StallionEra, the first-class label in China, which marked their new business concept and aesthetics direction. They would focus more on content internationalization and cultural diversity.
Add: 1F MGM, Workers Stadium, Chaoyang District, Beijing