Jan 09 2012
Think fast: you have 30 seconds to name as many Singaporean musicians as possible. Go!
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Did you get zero? Yeah, me too, and I live here. So Singapore certainly isn’t known for its musical talent, but if you like your beer with a side of rock’n’roll there are a few bars that regularly offer up live bands.
Singapore’s best known live music joint is the Crazy Elephant at Clarke Quay. The music starts around 22:00 every night and is a mix of rock and blues, classic covers and original material. Rock stars passing through Singapore have been known to get on stage at Crazy Elephant, and the resident band is so good that by midnight the bar is full with an overflow crowd lingering outside to listen to the singer wail on the mike.
Another long-running music bar is Timbre, which now has three venues each with live music every night they’re open. The original, Timbre @ Substation, started as a student hang-out showcasing local talent and Singaporean bands still make up the bulk of the entertainment. For a guaranteed great show catch one of Timbre’s regulars like Goodfellas or 53A. There’s a performance schedule on the Timbre website.
The Boiler Room is the live music club within the St James Power Station and its resident band, Soul Kool, is the most entertaining Top 40 act in Singapore complete with dancers and costume changes. Most of the credit goes to flamboyant frontman Gino who’s as talented a comedian as he is a singer. The music starts around 22:00, but consider coming before 21:00 to take advantage of happy hour pricing.
They may be better known for cheap hostel beds, but both Prince of Wales locations double as live music venues. Most of the music happens at Prince Wales at Boat Quay where a changing line-up of local and visiting indie bands means you can head-bang to metal one night then step-dance to traditional Celtic tunes the next. Sunday afternoons are reserved for a casual jam session and the beer is always cheap.
TAB is a relatively new addition to the Singapore music scene but quickly gaining popularity, probably in part for its convenient location on Orchard Road. Depending on the night of the week, the entertainment at TAB could be anything from a funk band to an acoustic singer/songwriter to a jazz ensemble complete with swing dancers. In the spirit of making local music accessible to everyone, TAB is all-ages until 22:00 and there’s rarely a cover charge.
Though it’s also on Orchard Road, music fans are much less likely to stumble upon The House of Rock on the fourth floor of an aging shopping centre. For such a strange location, the house band really rocks and covers the classics from Led Zeppelin to Oasis. The music starts around 21:00 and changes to metal later in the night. But be warned: just because it’s a dive doesn’t mean the drinks are cheap.
Crazy Elephant: 3E River Valley Road, Clarke Quay, 6337 7859
Timbre @ Substation: 45 Armenian Street, 6338 8030
The Boiler Room: 3 Sentosa Gateway, St James Power Station, 6270 7676
Prince of Wales Boat Quay: 51 Boat Quay, 6536 9697
TAB: 442 Orchard Road, 6493 6952
House of Rock: 19 Tanglin Road, #04-08/09 Tanglin Shopping Centre, 6738 5161
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