Cape Town is a creative hub of note, and wherever you go in the city you’ll hear music spilling into the streets. From small suburban music clubs to moody city jazz venues and stadiums, Cape Town has it all.
Here, in this cosmopolitan melting pot at the tip of Africa, you’ll find world-class jazz, folk, rock, hip hop, afro-funk, indie, and electronic venues to support a thriving music scene.
Café Roux is a firm favourite in Noordhoek, and their more recently opened City Bowl venue is quickly earning itself the same status. Here, you’ll find just about any genre of music, from folk and acoustic to blues and pop and everything in between.
The City Bowl venue is urban chic and stylish, while the Noordhoek one has a more laid-back feel. Both venues host some of South Africa’s biggest acts on a weekly basis, with local up-and-coming acts performing every night.
Barleycorn Music Club
This unassuming venue is tucked away behind the walls of a sports club. It’s one of the oldest live music venues in Cape Town, but it’s also not that well known, so it makes for a fantastic night out to enjoy intimate live performances. Every Monday night from 7 pm, you can enjoy four local acts here, and they play host to the annual Songwriter’s Competition and Festival.
This is the place to go to discover local songwriters, and the music is usually folk, acoustic, and indie style.
The Waiting Room
The Waiting Room is located in the middle of the action on Long Street. Enjoy live blues, acoustic, rock, downtempo, funk, hip hop, and basically anything else that’s hip enough for this urban-cool city venue. After the bands finish, DJs keep the dancefloor alive.
The rooftop terrace makes for excellent people-watching opportunities.
Mercury Live has been through many stages of evolution, and it’s currently running as one of the best places to see live acts in town. It’s edgy and gritty, and plays host to electronic acts, rock bands, and hip hop. Nights at mercury are late, loud, and lively.
Summer isn’t summer in Cape Town without the live sunset concerts on the rolling lawns of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Every Sunday between November and April, you can gather your picnic baskets, friends, and family, and enjoy the best music South Africa has to offer in the shade of Table Mountain.
Alma is a tiny venue tucked away off the main drag in Claremont. It’s not very well known, which is surprising as you’ll find some of South Africa’s biggest talent playing to small crowds over dinner here throughout the week. It’s cosy, serious, and all about the music. This is the venue you need if you like to really focus on the stage.
The House of Machines
The House of Machines is a trendy inner-city venue, with a bar serving craft beer, local wines, and a tasty line-up of live music daily. It has sister venues in LA and Niseko, which is a testament to its world-class coolness. Tuesdays are open mic nights, so if you’re after some undiscovered local talent make sure you’re there.
This trendy New York-style revue bar is located in De Waterkant is open till late every night, and guests can sip cocktails while watching the live performances. The Piano Bar has an intimate and moody vibe, but it prides itself on being an inclusive jazz bar. You’ll hear jazz standards, blues, and even some indie folk at this venue. You don’t need to be knowledgeable about the genre to visit—there’s something for everyone and it’s all about having a good time to some sweet tunes.
Don’t miss the daily two-for-one tapas special!
The Nameless Pub
The Nameless is Somerset West’s leading live music venue. The fantastic outside stage is where you’ll catch some of South Africa’s biggest pop and rock acts, along with new talent from around the country. They also screen sport, serve beer, and have braai facilities for those who want to make a real South African day of it.
Jazz in The Native Yards
This is one of Cape Town’s most exciting music venues, although it isn’t a singular venue. It’s a mobile blues and jazz gig, taking place in backyards in Gugulethu. There haven’t been nearly enough live music venues in Gugs to support the thriving local scene, and The Native Yards is the solution we’ve all been waiting for. Check out their Facebook page for updates.
The Cape Town Stadium
There might not be regular live music at the stadium, but when it does happen, it’s really worth going. This is the venue for big concerts—the likes of The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Justin Bieber, or Coldplay. Keep an eye on Big Concerts, We Are Live, and Computicket to find out who’s visiting next.
One of Cape Town’s most unique venues, Alexander Bar is part bar and eatery, part live music venues. While the downstairs area is where you can get a drink and a bite, it’s upstairs where the action is. Check out the live jazz on Tuesdays and laid-back folk jams on Wednesdays.
Mama Africa on Long street is an institution in Cape Town, and for more than 20 years, she has opened her arms to both tourists and locals who come to enjoy the delicious African inspired dishes, and lively atmosphere. Mama Africa is also a buzzing live music venue where three marimba bands entertain guests with their lively sets. Each band plays twice a week.
Another jazzy venue, and eatery of note, is trendy Asoka. Situated in Kloof street, just up the road from the city centre, this lounge, bar and restaurant is a favourite among the city’s ‘in’ crowd, especially on a warm summer’s evening. However, Asoka is also well known for its lively jazz sessions every Tuesday night, after which a DJ takes over to get the dance floor pumping.
Blah Blah Bar
Known for hosting epic live music performances and quirky atmosphere, Blah Blah Bar is more of a creative community where like-minded people meet, than it is just a bar. The venue has played host to a number of Cape Town’s top bands, and they are always open for suggestion. If someone has a great idea for a show, they’ll embrace it. That’s the kind of vibe you’ll find at Blah Blah Bar.