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Between the piano bars tucked into the city's ritzy five star hotels and dozens of dive bars where cover bands jam till the early morning, Shanghai's live music scene is steadily on the rise. The list below is far from exhaustive as there's likely to be a singer, strummer or lip-sinker within a stones throw of your dinner, but if you're itching to delve into the heart of Shanghai's live music scene, here are a few venues you might want to drop by one evening.
Considered the seat of Shanghai's live rock scene, Yuyingtang has been around since 2004. After a few relocations and a major renovation, this bar/concert hall hosts live music six nights a week, on average. When it comes to genres, it leans heavy towards rock including off-shoots such as punk, garage, indie rock and even metal. But if you want a true taste of Shanghai rock, this is the place to be.
Another pillar of the Shanghai music scene, Mao Livehouse offers a much more diverse selection when it comes to genres. A self-proclaimed mission to promote the local up-and-comers means this concert space regularly hosts Shanghai-based bands, but is no stranger to international tours either, having hosted the likes of Japanese post-rock band Mono, Canadian duo Tegan and Sara, as well as guitar legends Tommy Emmanuel and Martin Taylor.
For more evening-time fun, you might also want to read our article on Shanghai Nightlife.
A JZ Club venture, Wooden Box was opened as a venue to showcase the acoustic music scene in Shanghai. Tucked down a pedestrian lane off of Nanjing Xi Lu, this cafe boasts two outdoor terraces, a small menu and affordable drinks, and is really just a fabulous little joint year-round for some great local talent. There's live tunes every night with a musical bend towards folk, bluegrass and unplugged jazz.
Part of the massive Mercedes Benz Area, this venue is a collaboration between the Arena and local club, Muse. A smaller event space than the arena itself, the names that place here are far from small. The Beach Boys, the Cardigans, Slash, Herbie Hancock; the list of international super-stars that have performed on this stage is impressive. While not open every night, this concert hall has a pretty regular line-up of gigs and is worth checking into for any upcoming shows.
With a reputation for good Jazz, Shanghai has a number of outstanding venues, not least of which is the House of Blues and Jazz. Tucked in a dark, smokey interior, the rhythms produced by their rotating lineup of A-list musicians will transport you straight back to the 1920's. With live music every night, this is a perfect place to escape the rush of the city and be swept away for an evening of soulful melodies.
Itching for some more big band, swing or Dixieland? The house band at The Cotton Club will keep your feet tapping all night. Closed on Mondays, this Shanghai classic offers up another dim, hazy interior—a perfect setting for some funky Jazz—right in the city center.
Looking for more toe-tapping rhythms? You might also want to read our article How to Experience an Evening of Real Shanghai Jazz.
These are just a few venues to get started, but as always, we're happy to plan a personalized Shanghai tour for you, making sure you discover just what you're looking for, whether it be traditional opera or up-and-coming Chinese rock bands.
Our Beijing Tours also have some free time in the evenings and we're happy to arrange private transport to any venue. If you're looking for other interesting evening activities, we also have great night tours for both Shanghai and Beijing.