Dec 12 2012
Vientiane’s music scene is still in its infancy and far less prominent than in cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Yet if you find yourself weary of karaoke, a handful of local bands usually play shows on the weekends, with a few more peppered across weekdays. Local bands feature both Lao and falang musicians, mostly performing covers from their respective countries to an audience of a similar demographic. The Lao like to sing along more than they like to dance, while the falang seem more keen to hop around in whatever space there is to get down. As of yet, Vientiane has no designated concert venue, but certain bars frequently feature live acts.
Wind West is a cowboy-themed bar located just before the intersection of Khoun Boulom and Setthathirath Road. Its Western theme largely attracts a Lao clientele, and the live music on most nights draws in a sizable audience. The bar usually features several short sets from mostly Lao and Thai rock bands. While Wind West is one of the most reliable bars for live music, it’s also one of the most expensive, charging 25,000 kip for a small beer Lao, often in addition to a cover fee, so beer lovers may want to tank up before entering this establishment.
Kop Chai Deu is one of Vientiane’s busiest restaurants and has live music most nights of the week. Located to the left of Nam Phou, this colonial French mansion has been converted into a pleasant multi-storey restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating. It features usually local Lao bands, with occasional international performances. Being a restaurant, there is not much of a dance floor and if you aim to have a conversation during your meal then try to get a table outside or on one of the upper storeys.
Vientiane’s most popular venue for falang families looking to enjoy themselves with music and beverages would have to be Kongkhao, a bar and restaurant with indoor seating, a spacious beer garden and facilities for children. It features weekly jam sessions with local musicians every Sunday afternoon as well as parties and other events on a regular basis. Kongkhao is on Phagna Sy, a smaller road off of Houameuang Road — turn towards the river at the intersection where Samsenthai and Luang Prabang road merge around the small Fa Ngum statue park.
L’Atmosphere serves French cuisine during lunch and dinner hours, and provides music by local falang bands and DJs on a weekly basis. A fusion of French bistro and partially renovated house, and open late during gigs, this venue draws a large expat crowd to its weekend shows. L’Atmosphere is on Simeuang Road, just off of Khouvieng, opposite the French Medical Centre.
Vientiane’s jazz scene is almost entirely comprised of falang performers and audience members. I-Beam, located opposite Wat Ong Teu on Setthathirath Road, is a swanky wine and tapas bar that offers live jazz at least once a week. Less frequent jazz concerts can be found further down Setthathirath Road, diagonally facing Kop Chai Deu at two neighbouring establishments; posh cocktail and wine bar Wine 95 and Jazzy Bricks, a cosy yet classy cocktail lounge with tasteful vintage decor.
Vientiane’s music and arts scene is still too small to support a comprehensive event guide for the city. Events are advertised by flyers, newspaper listings, word of mouth and Facebook.
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