Lisbon doesn’t jump out as a city for live music, especially for someone coming from the UK, but scratch the surface and it has one of the freshest and most vibrant music scenes around
The first port of call for any music lover in Lisbon is one of the most well-known venues in the city, Musicbox. Located on Pink Street, the main strip in Cais do Sodre, Musicbox tops most of the “where to go in Lisbon” lists, so you will find yourself in heavy queues to get into the club nights there. The key is to not go to club nights.
Get there early on some of the quieter weekday nights and you’ll end up being one of a very sparse crowd watching great acts from around the world.
For a slightly more low-key venue, head to Galeria Zédos Bois. Part art gallery, part live-music venue with an off-the-beaten-track club in the basement, ZDB offers a fantastic range of both local and international acts across all genres and styles.
ZDB offers an unexpected refuge from the stag dos and bar crawls that roam this area.
With a relatively small area dedicated to live music and a bar that gets very busy, what really brings this place alive is the insatiable energy that all the performers seem to bring with them. Located on Rua da Barroca in the heart of Bairro Alto, ZDB offers an unexpected refuge from the stag dos and bar crawls that roam this area.
If you’re looking for something a little more alternative, head to Damas, located on Rua da Voz do Operário. Damas offers live music throughout the week, with a focus on alternative jazz. This is a mixing pot of dread-donned hippy types and the suited-and-booted of Lisbon. With its squat-chic look and late-night music, Damas is a very popular venue. They also tend to have a rather eclectic menu, and during the day this place is an actual restaurant.
For a more classical jazz experience, there’s Hot Clube de Portugal, probably the most well-established jazz venue in the city. It hosts a range of events and performances from Thursday to Saturday, serves pretty inexpensive beer and wine, and has a great old courtyard for when you need to cool down.
But the most exciting gigs are currently part of the growing Lisbon punk scene, which is undoubtedly spearheaded by Disgraça.
As well as offering tasty meals at its jantar vegan events, Disgraça is the venue for punk music in Lisbon. On Rua da Penha de França, you walk into what seems to be semi-squatted office building. The first floor down is a mishmash of tables and chairs organised into an area to eat, drink, and socialise with a cross section of the city.
The real magic happens when you head to the basement, through double doors that look like they’ve just been ripped out of Blade Runner, and enter what is essentially a soundproofed box.
Expect pushing, expect dogs running around your ankles, and people running across the ceiling.
And every bit of that soundproofing is used as Disgraça plays host to punk bands from across Europe. Expect pushing, expect dogs running around your ankles, and people running across the ceiling. This is punk being done as it should be. (Note: Starting Sept. 9, Disgraça is going on a three-day birthday party binge. Details here.)
Lisbon’s music scene is one that should be dove into head first. Go to a venue, buy a ticket (which are anything upwards of €2), and simply see what’s on offer. You are guaranteed to strike gold.