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February 05, 2013

Alternative Music Venues in Cape Town

ROAR. Photo courtesy Dplanet

Cape Town is synonymous with live music – from being the host of the annual International Jazz Festival, to the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, and a number of famous international acts like Lady Gaga, U2, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, there's something to match everyone's taste.

We posed a question to the members of our Facebook group to see which was their favourite. See the list of some of the best answers here.

There's also a number of alternative music venues in the Mother City. For those who like their guitars turned up to 11, here's some of the live music venues that cater to a not-so-mainstream tastes.


The ultimate alternative venue in Cape Town. Gandalf's has been around for many years, and has garnered a reputation for exposing some of the best up-and-coming bands and DJs. If you're looking for fancy and elegant, this is not your cup of tea. But the drinks are cheap, the music is good, and the crowd are friendly. Themed nights cater to a variety of music genres: drum 'n bass, dubstep and hiphop on Wednesdays, rock and metal on Thursdays, and some of the cheapest drinks specials almost every night.


ROAR is upstairs from Gandalf's, but is a well-known live music venue in its own right. ROAR has seen a number of international bands grace its stage, but most of the time, it's one of the best places to discover new local talent before anyone else. Ska, punk, metal, hiphop, and rock can be enjoyed here. The venue is small, but this adds to the up-close-and-personal experience of seeing a band play here. Well worth a visit if local music is what you're after during a Cape Town trip.

The Rabbit Hole. Photo courtesy The Rabbit Hole

The Rabbit Hole

The Rabbit Hole is the newer kid on the block, but has already attracted some great local and international acts, and has become a popular spot on the alternative venue map. Go here for great live music, karaoke, darts, pool and foosball, and friendly staff. And be ready to rock out!

Mercury Live & Lounge

Mercury is another great venue for live music. Downstairs, you'll find a DJ spinning tunes from the 80s and 90s, as well as some outside areas for chilling. Upstairs, you'll find the stage area, with plenty of space for both the crowd and the bands to move to the music. Many of South Africa's biggest bands of the last ten years have played here, so come and check out some ermerging local talent!

The Assembly

The Assembly is the place to see the hottest bands and DJs of the day in Cape Town. Keeping a good balance of live music and DJs, many of Cape Town's scenesters can be found here almost every weekend. One of the bigger venues on the list, it also has a more chilled-out bar and seating area away from the crowd. 

Want to know more about what to see and do in Cape Town? Contact us on +27 (0)861 322 223 or info@capetown.travel

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