Now that the Hong Kong nightlife scene is (almost) back, what would you say to some good ol’ live music? Check out some of the best venues in town tailored to your vibe.
Counting down to 19 May? Same. No offence to Christmas stans, but counting down to the return of bars and nightclubs has been more intense than the urge to annihilate an entire advent calendar in the span of 24 hours.
Select one of the moods below, and I will name a couple live music venues for you to visit come the big day — whatever your vibe happens to be that day.
Pick your vibe:
If you’re looking to live an art deco fantasy…
We’re talking grand, elegant and just living the dolce vita. Don your most dapper clothes for an unforgettable night of opulence and class — just make sure there’s no pin curl in your hair.
In its own words, Foxglove is “a place of most exquisite wonder in Hong Kong’s epicurean heartland“. Which entails a number of things: to start off, there is a smart-casual dress code. Second, you’d want to be acquainted with Frank Minza by now.
Who’s Frank Minza? He runs the place, in spirit. The protagonist of the culinary biography that is Foxglove itself, Minza is a fictional world adventurer from the early 20th century whose wanderlust poses as the backbone of the menu.
Classic cocktails are given an exotic spin, and dim sum, of all unlikely choices, are the subject of weekend free-flows. When it does feel like a smart move to expect the unexpected from Foxglove, one element is indefinitely on-brand: live jazz music.
Sharp dressed jazz bands perform on stage before the 1940s Gloster jet engine-inspired set piece, teleporting you back to the golden age of aviation and travel. Swirl your vintage cognac and spirits as your thoughts dance along the tunes of an era bygone.
Foxglove, 2/F, Printing House, 6 Duddell Street, Central, +852 2116 8949
Champagne Bar is one of those places that will have you a bit on edge thinking: “am I underdressed?” because of its striking beauty. The timeless equation of subdued illumination plus sumptuous velvet contributes to a textbook cabaret ambience, while a crystal ring chandelier shimmers above the bar to offer a glow of guidance.
Hailed as the go-to choice for champagne lovers in Hong Kong, this Grand Hyatt location’s lavish façade is backed up by its exceptional selection of wines, bubbles and gourmet delicacies such as caviar, foie gras and oysters.
Here’s where the live jazz chimes in, blending seamlessly with the air of sophistication that fills the room — it all comes so naturally together, at one point you’d start to wonder when the flappers are taking the stage as well.
It’s somewhat soul-crushing that such a fine venue is temporarily closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Check in regularly to see if the second phase of relaxed social distancing rules will remedy your itch for live jazz music.
Champagne Bar, Lobby Level, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Road, +852 2584 7722 (temporarily closed)
If food matters…
Music is the food of the soul, but what about our more earthly pursuits? This section is dedicated to venues that not only nourish our spirit but also tantalise our palates. Don’t let less-than-adequate food be your downfall, ever.
Quality Goods Club
Quality Goods Club is here to fill you up, with sizzling food and a whole lot of music, that is.
Think feel-good food, but new and improved with significantly more of everything: cheese, ham, soul, character… those sort of stuff that really makes a difference.
It’s recommended that you step into Quality Goods Club with an empty stomach and let their signature serves (RIP, Quality Bodega and your delicious meatball and hero subs!) stuff your mouth and soil your hair — that’s how you know the food is absolutely bangin’. Grab a beer or cocktail, then a fabulous time it will become.
Quality Goods Club is the whole package; it’s a “live music venue from stunning gypsy swing to the best DJ lineups in town”, it’s a “spanking good restaurant and also a fine-ass high volume cocktail bar”, it’s good at what it does, with a great sense of humour, and it’s bringing disco back this May.
Now that the social distancing rules are almost out of the way, let’s indulge in Quality Goods — that includes food, drinks and music.
Quality Goods Club, Basement, On Lok House, 39-43 Hollywood Road, Central
Lost Stars Livehouse Bar & Eatery
As much as I would love to open with the “Lost Stars is a live music venue first, eatery second” statement, it just feels unfair — both are indeed Lost Stars’ forte.
There is no way you will miss this local favourite with its floor-length windows letting you in on a glimpse of the interior, presenting itself as a strong contender for your next romantic dinner.
But no matter what time of day you are there, the menu is extensive and thoughtful: from seasonal set meals and myriad vegetarian options to an ample line-up of alcoholic staples, Lost Stars is a true crowd pleaser.
While many restaurants are (sadly) guilty of cat-fishing with reference images, a brief round of social media detective work will swiftly clear Lost Stars as a suspect — the flavour is on point, the portions are huge and the price is right. Oh, and how can I forget, patrons recommend Beef Wellington and any dessert on the menu.
As far as the live music goes, Lost Stars keeps it refreshing and diverse by inviting onboard independent musicians whose names might not ring a bell right away but certainly will be the next thing you look up on Spotify when you get home.
So, who are we to say no to a night of splendid food and melodies, especially after three months of borderline confinement? Check out the latest live music events coming up next week here, and bring along some friends!
Lost Stars Livehouse Bar & Eatery, Shop 506, G/F, Phase 1, Square Mile, 11 Li Tak Street, Tai Kok Tsui, +852 2337 6728
If you’re a Rockerboy chasing after new excitements…
That is absolutely a Cyberpunk 2077 reference [Editor’s Note: I’ll allow it], and a not-so-fancy synonym for “I love to mosh pit”. Either way, if your heart is set on the sound of rock, this is the way to go.
The Wanch has been around forever, and for good reason.
Also known by partygoers as Hong Kong’s home of live music, The Wanch has witnessed the city’s handover, two pandemics (who shall remain nameless) and a change of address. Amidst all uncertainty, one thing prevails: rock ‘n roll.
30 years on the scene has blessed The Wanch with an inherent touch of grunge and edge, and that’s not going away even if the place of business is about to change — get ready for a brand new location three times the size, with an exclusive selection of craft beers and more delights.
And for those wondering, yes, the nights of rocking and rolling will be back, and there will be no breaks in-between, just the way it used to be.
The Wanch, 1/F, Henan Building, 90 Jaffe Street, Wan Chai (opening soon in May 2022)
The Aftermath is the place to stop by if normal clubbing shenanigans are getting old. A hub for all streams of creativity, this Central location shape-shifts into a comedy bar, mini tattoo convention or retro gaming arcade when duty calls.
If you like surprises, The Aftermath is for you. If your taste for music does not discriminate, The Aftermath could just become your next favourite spot.
Previous highlights include Battle of the Bands, Live Soulful Music and Free Jam nights, serving as your sign from above to take the stage and perform your heart out next time. Be a part of the phenomenon.
The Aftermath, LG/F, 57-59 Wyndham Street, Central
If you’re here to rack up likes on the ‘Gram…
No judgement here: Sometimes the interior is the vibe. To those of you who want to deck out your already scintillating Instagram feeds, here you go. They say looks can be deceiving, but I’m happy to bust the myth: the drinks and live music don’t fool around. You are welcome.
One word comes to mind: “lit”. Not only does this place introduce sufficient lighting (in a cool, psychedelic manner), but it also goes all out in terms of décor.
Dragonfly identifies itself as a Bohemian-themed Art Nouveau cocktail lounge, which I’m sure the two descriptors alone already checks all boxes for quite an audience of dark academia admirers. Here, allow me to sweeten the deal with the inclusion of soft-mood lounge music.
You can’t enter the room without addressing the winged maiden over the bar and her breath-taking magnificence. Encased in antiquated gold-tone metal, she watches over all guests while paying tribute to Art Nouveau icon René Lalique. Quite the looker, isn’t she?
As for the sombre blueish-greenish tint reminiscent of that first Twilight film, you can thank Australian interior designer Ashley Sutton for his creative muses.
Mosaic of the same hue glistens upon tabletops and lamp shades, effortlessly making for glossy magazine-worthy shots, no matter how shaky your hands are under the influence.
Dragonfly, Shop 10 – G1, Tai Kwun, 10 Hollywood Road, Central, +852 2777 2633
The Iron Fairies
Yet another one of Ashley Sutton’s many delicate, fantastical works — I just found out about the creative mastermind behind both bars as I did my research, so it’s safe to say my preference is indeed quite predictable. But on the bright side, it means Sutton is good — really good.
A stone’s throw from Lan Kwai Fong, The Iron Fairies is a change of scenery and sound: you walk into a hall with butterflies overhead and candle lamps at (more or less) eye-level, nonchalant notes of jazz and blues replacing the hustle of the streets.
This ethereal garden tucked away in the city is not whole without its population of iron fairies — catch them in bulk by your table or alone at corners you’d least expect. Oh, and as bar legend goes, leave them be. Only bad luck awaits would-be fairy thieves. You’ve been warned.
The Iron Fairies, LG, 1 Hollywood Road, Central, +852 2603 6992
(Featured Image: @foxglove.hk on Instagram / Hero Image: Dragonfly)