Being a dancer and an avid support of live shows, music has always made so much of my life. And now that I’ve made a career as a host and creative for this site, I think it’s safe to say that I’m lucky I get to explore and immerse myself more in it.
Throughout the two decades I’ve seen Original Pinoy Music evolve, get confused, dry, get lost and find its way back to popularity again, I have also noticed how the scene has changed drastically as the audience comes, goes, or grows along with the music. Some years ago, OPM (as well as the artists) was mostly accessible only via radio and TV, and live entertainment was not a popular idea for a Friday night to an average youth. But if you take a look at today, I am sure you can’t deny how local music has returned stronger and bigger than ever, becoming a huge attraction for millennials from school events to regular weekend gigs to grand arena concerts. Whether it’s in a university, a bar, a club, or an island, it is guaranteed that the young ones will be where the music is, and without fail.
So here are some of the bars you can go to for your doses of great live music!
1. saGuijo Cafe + Bar
Location: 7612 Guijo, San Antonio Village, Makati
SaGuijo is an entertainment bar home to rock, electronic, acoustic and spoken-word nights. Named after the street where it’s located, it has become a go-to for both Makati’s loyal gig-goers and anybody who’s looking for a guaranteed good night of rocking out.
Tip: It can get really crowded here so unless you’re willing to stand up, get there early for a table.
2. Route 196 Bar
Location: 196-A Katipunan Ave, Project 4, Quezon City
Route196 is a lot like saGuijo, only this time, we take the gig up North. Live music, good food, ice-cold beer, and great company are Route’s specialty and to be honest, all that have created their loyal customers over the years. Although being vegetarian has limited me from getting food here, a lot of my friends have spoken highly of the food here, pegging their pizzas as a must-try from the menu.
Location: Kowloon House, 20 Matalino St, Diliman, Quezon City
Now here’s a bar for underground music that is literally underground.
Mow’s is situated at the basement of Kowloon House on Matalino Street, right across a KFC. The shows that are usually played here feature up and coming music artists of different genres, from alternative to experimental. But apart from music shows, they also feature other performance acts such as standup comedy, spoken word, and comic readings. And since it considers Kowloon House their actual home, you can order affordable Chinese food directly through the bar!
4. 12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub
Location: 5th Floor, Century City Mall, Kalayaan Ave, Makati
Nope, it’s not the Bruce Willis movie nor its loose TV series adaptation. 12 Monkeys sets itself apart from the other bars on this list for being located inside an upscale mall. This is where indie artists take a break from the typical bars they perform at to give a taste of their music to a more diverse audience.
This place is usually packed with a mix of regular gig-goers, foreigners, casual shoppers, and Makati employees that are looking for a nice downtime after a week’s work. But as well as live entertainment, 12 Monkeys also offers Filipino food and a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage. However, here’s something for you to remember if you ever think about going here for a start: the food and drinks are not the cheapest ones around.
5. The Brewery at The Palace
Location: 10th Avenue corner 38th Street Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Here’s a place that is less for the regular gig-goer who’s after a night of rocking out, but more for the one who’s looking for a place to wind down and catch up with friends after work. There’s a full bar available with their famous in-store brewed beer and finger food, but The Brewery is mostly esteemed for its great ambiance more than anything else.
Experience the local music scene!
Some may say it’s a trend (as most things are in the digital world we live in), yet there are so many factors as to why local music has jumped back on the road to eminence. My personal opinion would say that it has got a lot to do with what we have to say as a generation, the “freedom” with which it comes along, and the availability of mediums we are so fortunate to have access to in order to produce and consume. And day by day, the fact inspires and continues to breed more aspiring musicians and many open listeners, which I think is a beautiful thing for the community as well as our culture.
Although I have probably emphasized how big the scene is already, I believe it has not reached the audience it’s got all the potential to reach yet. Which is why I would like to personally invite you to come out and go see OPM’s best of live entertainment today, if you have yet to experience the amazing and honest artistry behind it. But if you are not very familiar with the gem that is the music scene in Manila and have no idea where to start, not to worry; I have gathered a few of the top places where avid gig-goers like me come together to celebrate the true sound of our generation — with beer and a smartphone in hands, of course.
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