Getting Indie in Beijing - Page 2
For a taste of musical home, The Star Live is the place to be. Featuring indie bands of global acclaim, when this venue is showing most of Beijing's expat community comes out of the woodwork. Just a few blocks from the Lama Temple subway station, it is curiously located above a somewhat corporate looking lobby yet retains the feel of an underground club. As one of the larger venues in Beijing with a capacity of over one thousand, The Star Live has attracted such names as popular German crooners The Whitest Boy Alive. This two-level establishment maintains a healthy vibe despite its size. Avoid the coat check, which is a logjammed pain- toss yours in the corner and get on with it.
For those looking to avoid the sweat and riotous energy of D22 or Mao Livehouse there is The One Club.
Not to be confused with the popular 798 Art District, the 718 Art & Culture Zone on the outskirts of Beijing's fourth ring road is the city's attempt to re-create the wheel. Here lies The One Club, a grown-up version of the aforementioned venues. What it lacks in innovation is more than made up for in refinement and arguably the best sound system in town. The One Club holds up to 500 people and is a favorite for promoters bringing in foreign acts like The Radio Dept. In an interesting marketing twist, promoters refrain from publicizing their lineups, forcing fans to follow their every move in anticipation of what big name will stop by next.
Last but not least, you may consider Worker's Gymnasium. Not quite a music venue as a stadium, this Sanlitun arena lacks ambiance, acoustic quality or indie street cred of any kind. However it makes this list due to recent Chinese government efforts to engage in cultural exchange. The result? Heavy hitters like Bob Dylan were cleared to perform in this location. Shows in Worker’s Gymnasium will be strictly sterile and government-approved. It’s up to you whether it’s worth a steep ticket and red tape to witness the likes of Mr. Tambourine Man.
Beijing's gradual economic and cultural liberalization makes it an increasingly popular destination for independent musicians. With these venues in mind you are sure to enjoy the cream of Beijing's musical crop while keeping a safe distance from the KTV bars.