Updated July 2018
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, but rather the gigs before them!
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.
Another popular music spot in Cais is the riverside club Titanic Sur Mer, which hosts a range of live bands as well as DJ sets that can run late into the night. These guys are noted for there samba — for which they offer classes — as well as the musical workshops that they sometimes host.
Between Cais do Sodre and Santos you will find Lounge. This often draws a hefty crowd and pumps out hip tunes until well into the night. It can be tricky to catch a live gig here, as often they aren’t too well advertised, but if you do, they offer a glimpse into the Lisbon alternative scene with interesting new sounds.
For a slightly more nuanced venue, head to Galeria Zé dos 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.
If you like your jazz a little less polished, head to Bus Paragem Cultural. This bit-of-everything center hosts regular Jazz sessions as well an array of other acts, from singer-songwriters to unstoppable Cumbia bands!
Looking for a slightly more alternative venue? Head to the increasingly popular neighborhood of Anjos. Here you will fine Anjos 70, which hosts everything from jam sessions to live sets and dance parties.
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 a semi-squatted office building. The first floor down is a mishmash of tables and chairs organized into an area to eat, drink, and socialize 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.
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.
Lisbon also has a growing techno scene, which you can find out about here. Additionally, there are often pop-up stages all over the city with any kind of music you could imagine, so make sure to keep an eye on the calendar to see what’s on!