Live in Manila: The City’s Top Music Venues

  • MH192’s number three main wheel burst during take off, says Hishammuddin – Bernama
    MH192’s number three main wheel burst during take off, says Hishammuddin – Bernama

    Preliminary investigation findings on the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH192 incident has revealed that the number three main wheel of the aircraft had burst during take off. Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pic) said the aircraft was currently grounded at the MAS Engineering facility in Kuala Lumpur International... …

  • Bible banned from Pahang hotel rooms – Bernama

    The Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council (MAIP) has prohibited hotel proprietors in the state from placing religious reading materials of other religions other than Islam in their rooms. According to MAIP deputy president, Datuk Seri Wan Abdul Wahid Wan Hassan, a letter of prohibition on the matter had been sent to 147 hotels across the... …

  • Pre-lim report to ICAO not public, yet

    Malaysia has yet to decide on whether the preliminary report on the MH370 incident submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) will be made public.   "We have issued the preliminary report. We've sent it to ICAO but we have not made a decision to release to media or the public," Department of Civil Aviation Chief Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.   Asked again on why it will not be released to public, although it is common practice, …

  • Take second job to tackle household debt, urges AKPK – Bernama
    Take second job to tackle household debt, urges AKPK – Bernama

    The Credit Counseling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) has urged Malaysians to take a second job to help them tackle the high rate of household debt. Chief executive officer Koid Swee Lian (pic) said those in the teaching line, for example, could give extra classes to earn more money. "Teachers could earn more money by giving tuition to... …

  • International team probing MH370 to be finalised next week, Hishammuddin says
    International team probing MH370 to be finalised next week, Hishammuddin says

    KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 — Malaysia expects to finalise by next week the list of members on the independent team of experts commissioned by Putrajaya to carry out an extensive probe on the... …

  • Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely, Dr Mahathir reminds current leaders

    Malaysian leaders have been reminded not to look down on the public’s capability to topple a corrupt government as what had happened in the Middle East during the Arab spring, warned Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic). In his latest blog posting today, the country’s longest serving prime minister said that monarchs and dictators in the Middle East... …

Photos by Dane Soriano, Abs Abando and Peter Tolibas

When director Tony Gilroy said he chose Manila to shoot The Bourne Legacy because “it felt so Bourne-ish,” he set off a teensy tempest when some objected to his description of the city as “colorful and ugly and gritty, raw and stinky and crowded.” If Gilroy were more laconic, he should’ve just said, “It’s so rock & roll,” and flashed two-fisted devil horns.

Indeed, all that color and grit roost just as comfortably in Manila’s music scene, where the most exciting musical acts cram into bars and clubs the size of a thimble and blast music that’s nuclear, original, unkempt and never boring.

Right here, we bring you music critic Eric Caruncho and RockMYX VJ Francis Reyes’ top seven bars and clubs in Manila with the best live music.

19 East Bar & Grill

Easily the live-music bar with the most space, best sound equipment, stage area, and parking. Pop shaman Ely Buendia — he of Eraserheads fame – agrees, describing 19 East in a blog post as “probably the best-sounding venue in the whole archipelago and a stone’s throw away from my place.”  The lineup of performers can be eclectic, but it’s always top-notch. It ranges from mainstream pop to folk to jazz to R&B to the usual indie. If you need a break from the music, you can have your dinner and drinks al fresco in the Garden Bar, where food is mostly Filipino.  Sample acts: Side A, Gloc 9, Urbandub, MYMP

Km. 19, East Service Road, Parañaque City
Open from Mondays to Saturdays from 5pm to 2:30pm
Tel: +63 2/ 837 6903

Route 196

As teensy as SaGUIJO but with a quieter lounge area. Peso Movement, Francis Reyes’ band with former Rivermaya bassist Japs Sergio, plays here, as do indie darlings like Up Dharma Down, Ciudad, Drip and a welter of bands of every rock or alternative persuasion. Plus, the pizza is delicious.

196-A Katipunan Avenue Extension, Blue Ridge, Quezon City
Open from 6pm to 2am on Tuesday to Thursday, and extends till 3am on Fridays and Saturdays Tel: +632/ 439 1972
For schedules, visit Route 196 Bar on Facebook

The Hydra (formerly Skarlet Jazz Kitchen)

This low-ceilinged club lined with banquettes and outdoor tables for smokers hosts a slew of…everything, including heavy metal, reggae and punk. But it also livens up with performers showcasing the many variations of jazz and the blues, from big band to fusion. Sample acts: AMP Big Band and Unleashed. There are also open mike blues nights here.

Scout Ybardolaza corner Timog, Quezon City
Open daily from 6pm to 3am
Tel: +63927/ 626 4006
For schedules, visit The Hydra on Facebook

70s Bistro

One of the oldest live-music venues in the city, the popular 70s Bistro is hidden away in a suburban residential QC neighborhood. Beginning as a folk bar, 70s Bistro has seen legends on its stage from Joey Ayala to the Eraserheads and the Jerks. Veteran folk and rock bands hold court almost daily in this much-beloved bar. Parokya Ni Edgar, popular in the Philippines for their novelty songs, still plays here on Mondays and there are occasional specials such as Beatles Nights.

46 Anonas Street, Project 2, Quezon City
Open from Monday to Saturday from 7pm to 1:30am
Tel: +63927/ 214 0036, +63919/ 475 4136
For schedules visit 70s Bistro on Facebook

The Roadhouse Manila Bay

In September 2012, 35 bands signed up for the first Philippine Blues Competition, the eliminations of which were held at the Roadhouse. Who knew there were that many blues bands in the Philippines? It warms the cockles of rock roots fans. Roadhouse has an obvious biker theme, but the clientele is more than petrol heads. There’s a proper restaurant for sitting down and eating with friends even if you don’t care for the blues. It’s got good food, ice-cold beers and nightly performances from some of the best bands in Manila. Get warmed up with a bucket of beer and prawn crackers for P300. Unlimited draft beer is P350. Sample acts: Joe Bonamassa, Bleu Rascals, The Oktaves

SM By the Bay, Mall of Asia, Pasay City
Open daily from 5pm to 2am
Tel. +632/ 836 7632
For schedules visit The Roadhouse Manila Bay on Facebook

Malasimbo Arts Festival (Puerto Galera, Mindoro)

Not a music venue and not in Manila, but a three-day annual music and arts festival held every March at the foot of Mount Malasimbo near the beautiful beach town of Puerto Galera, Mindoro Island, Philippines. To get there, take the three-hour bus ride from Manila to the port of Batangas City and a 30- to 45-minute ferry ride to Puerto Galera. The performers are a mix of local artists and invited foreign guests. This year, the legendary Joe Bataan, who invented Afro-Latin funk in the 60s and eventually called it “salsoul,” was a guest performer at the music festival. There’s live music (pop, rock, ethnic), DJs, installation art and cultural workshops. Next year’s event is expected to attract some 6,000 people so preparations are underway to set up two stages 200 meters apart from each other. Usually, Malasimbo features a variety of bands and showcases new artists every year. 

Tel: +63917/ 878 6609 (Olive D’Aboville)


Indie band haven smack bang in the middle of Makati’s glitzy yuppiedom. It’s oh-so-tiny, but that’s all the better for an authentic Pinoy in-your-face live experience — and anyway, the crowd may spill into the street if it’s a really big night. This is the club to squeeze into for anything grunge, down home, experimental, and avant-garde. Anything goes, with independent groups appearing alongside more established artists, but what’s always a given is that the music will be top-notch. Sample acts: Radioactive Sago Project, Taken By Cars, Tarsius

7612 Guijo Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City
Open from Tuesday to Saturday at 6pm. Gigs start at 10pm
Tel: +632/ 897 8629
Url:  ■

Eric Caruncho is a staff writer of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. He is the author of Punks, Poets & Poseurs, an anthology of his articles on the Pinoy rock music scene of the late 80s and early 90s, a time of creative blossoming for artists like Joey Ayala and the Eraserheads.

Francis “Brew” Reyes plays guitar with Peso Movement, a new band formed by Japs Sergio of Rivermaya. He is also a VJ for the TV show RockMYX, a record producer, and a blogger for Yahoo! Philippines. Francis was a member of local rock band The Dawn for many years and worked as a DJ for the defunct seminal radio station NU107.

More on
For more on Manila’s bar-hopping scene, get the lowdown from Inflight’s resident bar fly, Jan Lao, in Top Trendy Bars

Go behind the Pinoy music scene with the all-girl band, General Luna in Girl Power—Pinoy Style

If you’re checking out the Malasimbo Arts Festival, make the most of Puerto Galera and go scuba diving. Check out underwater photographer Gutsy Tuason’s favorite Puerto Galera dive site in Top 10 Magical Dives on


Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald...

  • The Poop on Pooping: 5 Misconceptions Explained

    Here is the truth behind five common misconceptions about defecating. Misconception No. 1: Daily pooping is normal, and optimal.

  • Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears
    Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears

    The son of former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik today reached an out of court settlement with his ex-girlfriend in a breach of contract suit over seven properties registered under their joint names. Ling Hee Leong and businesswoman Teh Chee Yen agreed to settle out of court after he took the stand briefly and testified that he had chosen...