Shenzhen certainly has reason to boast about its excellent shopping facilities, first class restaurants and hotels, fast economic development and high GDP. However, with all the development and investment being pumped into this financial centre, one cultural development seems to be lagging behind the rest of China’s major cities: live music venues. Just a couple of kilometers northwest lies Guangzhou with its buzzing rock music scene, while just to the south is the Western influenced cultural metropolis of Hong Kong with its countless bars, clubs and live music venues. However, Shenzhen’s peculiar shortage of live music venues has slowly begun to change. Below is an introduction to some of the best places in Shenzhen to catch a live gig.
C:Union Shenzhen (一渡堂 Yidutang)
C:Union is hands down the best venue in Shenzhen for live music. C:Union Shenzhen is an eclectic music venue, hosting live concerts of varying musical genres. It’s laid-back, friendly atmosphere combined with its creative clientele makes C:Union Shenzhen the best choice for live music in town.
The venue attracts the vast majority of foreign rock bands stopping over in Shenzhen on their China tours, while national and local bands make a mandatory stop here when in the city. In general, it is fair to claim that the best DJs, bands and musicians, both locally and internationally mount the stage here.
C:Union is located in OCT LOFT, a special art area composed of abandoned industrial buildings in the eastern part of Shenzhen’s Overseas Chinese Town. The area’s renovation was modeled on Vancouver’s loft zone and New York’s Soho, hence attracting companies, organisations and businesses involved in the creative sector.
C:Union Shenzhen is the sister branch of its Guangzhou counterpart, legendary in Guangzhou’s underground music scene for giving China’s non-mainstream musicians and bands an outlet to air their underground tunes. Unsurprisingly, Guangzhou’s C:Union legacy has been passed down onto the Shenzhen branch which opened its doors on December 9th, 2008. Therefore, with the help of its already established reputation in Guangzhou together with its great location in Shenzhen’s creative zone, C:Union has fast become Shenzhen’s premier musical hangout.
C:Union Shenzhen 一渡堂View In Map
Add: F3 Block, Mooka Space, Enping Lu, Overseas Chinese Town, Shenzhen
Opening Hours: 10:00-02:00
Getting there: Take the subway to Qiaocheng Dong (侨城东), get out at Exit A, near Shennan Lu
Brown Sugar Jar 红糖罐
Brown Sugar Jar describes itself as “a simple, pure, strange and happy jar…a happy place no matter if you’re poor, rich, lonely, progressive, conceited, feeling down or just in the process of changing.” In other words, it’s okay to be yourself here. Brown Sugar Jar may not enjoy the same level of fame as C:Union but it too attracts a respectable array of talented live acts. Foreign bands may be fewer here, but this venue is a great place to enjoy a live gig from China’s up-and-coming rock and folk bands.
Brown Sugar Jar红糖罐 View In Map
Add: 1 F Leyang Fengjing, Huangbei Lu, Luohu District, Shenzhen
Tel: 0755 2541 6110
Opening hours: 11:00-02:00
True Color 本色
There are several True Color branches scattered across the city. The venue has regular live bands and jazz music. Also a good venue for dining, True Color feels less like your best friend’s improvised basement bar and more like an upscale choice for those who don’t want to come home with cheap beer spilled on their pants and perforated eardrums. Though True Color does attract some big name DJs, if you want to experience good Chinese underground rock bands then C:Union or Brown Sugar Jar are the more reliable choices.
True Color Dongmen Branch 本色东门分店View In Map
Address: 4F, Jinshijie Commercial Center, 2003 Jiefang Lu, Luohu District, Shenzhen
Tel: 0755 8230 1833
Opening hours: 17:00 - 02:00
Base Bar 根据地酒吧
Base Bar is a popular rock and roll bar in Shenzhen that primarily draws in bands from Beijing and Southern China. There are now a total of three Base Bar branches. The first bar opened on Shangbu Nanlu in 2000 (上步南路) and newer editions include the Nanshan and Binhai branches. The godfather of Chinese rock, Cui Jian has described this bar as being “the most avant-garde, unconventional” rock venue. Not only does Base Bar aim to support local bands, but they were also the masterminds behind Shenzhen’s first rock festival and have organised several other large scale rock events and cultural exchanges since.
Base Bar Nanshan BranchView In Map
Add: Xihai’an Building, Nanyou Dadao, Nanshan District, Shenzhen
Tel: 0755 26490296
Opening hours: 17:30 – 02:00
Base Bar Shangbu BranchView In Map
Add: 1019 Shangbu Nanlu, Shenzhen
Tel: 0755 83633533
Opening hours: 20:00 – 01:00
Base Bar Binhai BranchView In Map
Add: 1 Windows of Binhai, Haide Sandao, Nanshan District
Tel: 0755 8612 5125， 86220391
Opening hours: 15:00 – 02:00
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