14 of Shanghai's Best Live Music Venues

By That's Shanghai, November 19, 2016

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Shanghai is full of live music venues that cater to whatever genre of music or experience you are looking for. You can spend a night head-banging at a punk show or try a new cocktail at a jazz club. Whatever you prefer, these are the best places in Shanghai to enjoy live music. 

General Live Music Venues around Shanghai

1. Yuyintang

Yuyintang Shanghai Best Live Music Venues - That's Shanghai - Thatsmags.com
Photo by Rachel Gouk

An institution within Shanghai's music scene, Yuyintang has hosted rising international acts like Iceage and Heems, as well as domestic stalwarts like Chui Wan and SMZB. It's a top spot for the city's indie music scene, frequently hosting local showcases and a recurring Open Night Jam.

See listing for Yuyintang here.

2. Mao Livehouse

Mao Livehouse Shanghai Live Music Venues - That's Shanghai - Thatsmags.com

Started out by local rockers Soma Records, MAO Livehouse has established itself as the city's top mid-sized venue, hosting acts like Anderson.Paaak and The Lumineers. It's also the venue of choice for top domestic bands like Queen Sea Big Shark and Hedgehog, but serves the local rockers well with recurring showcases of homegrown bands.

See listing for Mao Livehouse here.

3. UNÏCO

Unico Live Music Shanghai - That's Shanghai - Thatsmags.com

UNÏCO is a restaurant, cocktail bar, cigar lounge, and a live music venue with Latin soul. Jazz bands as well as local and international DJs such as Louie Vega or Giles Peterson will often perform for people enjoying their drinks, food and cigars. Unico is a big space with plenty of room for dancing and hanging out while soaking in the glam Bund ambience.

See listing for Unico here.

4. QSW Culture Center

Located along Suzhou Creek near M50, this Putuo structure holds two livehouses and a variety of other artistic spaces. While it might be most famous for hosting rounds of The Voice of China, QSW has hosted international gigs recently from American troubador Kurt Vile to Beijing electro-rock standouts Nova Heart.

See listing for QSW Culture Center here.

5.  On Stage

The same folks behind JZ Club run this venue in hip Red Town. Boasting what many have dubbed the city's best sound system, On Stage mixes shows from Chinese stalwarts with gigs organized by local acts. The room has a large stage and can hold about 400 people. 

See listing for On Stage here.

6.  Inferno

The second incarnation of Inferno may have more of a live house feel but it has that same commitment to punk and metal. It's hosted a number of rocking standouts from home and abroad. 

See listing for Inferno here.

7. Harley's Underground

Fresh off a renovation, Harley’s Underground retains that dive charm that's made it a mecca for Xuhui's rock and punk musicians. There's still cheap beer and a great rock n' roll vibe, with the spot being a favorite booking place for local rising rockers.

See listing for Harley's Underground here.


Jazz Clubs in Shanghai

8. JZ Club

JZ Club Live Music Jazz Shanghai - That's Shanghai - thatsmags.com

A well-known jazz club opened by former bass player Ren Yuqing, JZ Club has been an institution for years. While its beloved Fuxing Lu location shuttered in early 2016, they've bounced back with a larger livehouse space in the burgeoning Found 158 development. They've even upgraded their cocktail menu too.

See listing for JZ Club here.

9. Heyday

Heyday Live Music Jazz Shanghai - That's Shanghai - thatsmags.com

Heyday is a vintage jazz lounge with an ambiance designed to transport visitors back in time to the golden age of Shanghai nightlife. Performers at the Heyday jazz lounge come from different parts of China as well as all over the world. There menu supplies craft cocktails and drinks as well as a small menu of food. 

See listing for Heyday here.

10. Shake

Shake Live Music Shanghai - That's Shanghai - thatsmags.com

The second project from the Heyday folks is a restaurant and bar that includes live musical performances. This dinner and live show experience happens late nights from Tuesday to Saturday featuring stalwarts of Shanghai's jazz, blues and soul scenes.

See listing for Shake here.

11. House of Blues and Jazz

The House of Blues and Jazz is a spacious venue with live, you guessed it, blues and jazz music played by talented musicians. They pride themselves on being casual, fun and unpretentious. 

See listing for House of Blues and Jazz here

12. Fairmont Peace Hotel Jazz Bar

Shanghai Fairmont Peace Hotel Jazz Bar — That's Shanghai — thatsmags.com

The Jazz Bar located in the Farimont Peace Hotel is a historic jazz bar that has been hosting performances by local jazz musicians since the 1980s. The bar has prohibition-era inspired drinks and the interior will make you feel like you’ve transported 80 years back in time. Of course, the biggest attraction is their famed house band made up of elderly jazz musicians, which just goes to show age ain't nothin but a number.

See listing for Fairmont Peace Hotel Jazz Bar.

14. Cotton Club

Cotton Club Live Music Shanghai - That's Shanghai - thatsmags.com

Cotton Club is a small, dark and smoky live music venue that houses Greg Smith's top notch house band and other stellar musicians of the Shanghai blues and soul scene.

See listing for Cotton Club here

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