When it comes to live music in the city of Kolkata, let’s start with the place where it had all begun. When Kolkata was Calcutta, and before the iconic Someplace Else came in the picture, Trincas, the old-fashioned eatery filled with warm nostalgia was the mecca for musicians from all across the country. That was during 60’s. The 70’s was the golden era of western music in Kolkata and the hub for all things musical became Blue Fox and Moulin Rouge. From Jazz to Soul to Latin to Rock, you name it, Kolkata offered you a place for all your musical cravings. Then came a slump. It was only until the late 90’s that Someplace Else took over the responsibility of reviving the live music culture of Kolkata.
Today, Kolkata boasts of a number of venues where you can satiate your craving for the best of live music from the best of homegrown talents. Here’s a list:
Started back in August 1994 as a nightclub, this place has transformed the live music approach in the city of joy. Someplace Else is not ’just’ another live music spot, it is a sentiment for Calcuttan’s. The heritage venue at The Park, Kolkata, was the only pub in India back in the 90s to host live musicians from all over the country cutting across genres. Over two successful decades, it has evolved, a place where established artists share the space with aspiring ones. The place has undergone several changes throughout these years, but, still, it stands tall, with its head high, jamming all the way. The cult venue has seen great musicians like Ehsaan Noorani, Amyt Dutta, Gary Lawer, Anjan Dutta, Lou Majaw, Parikrama, Indian Ocean and numerous International acts.
Where: The Park, 17, Park St, Kolkata
This place is a new den for music lovers in the city, besides, a den for book lovers too. Terminal 11, the spacious, geek-chic café has refreshing decor, great ambience, the huge collection of books, which definitely is a treat to your soul. They usually have live music on the weekends from 7:30 pm onwards, though they have nice playlists as well during the week. A must visit place with your squad.
Where: 11, Salt Lake City, BF Block, Beside HDFC Bank, Kolkata
Started in November 2014, The Vault is the basement space of Kolkata’s very own Priya cinemas. The Vault will give you a feeling that you are entering a cellar. The 15 feet long bar with the glow in the dark lights, 600 square feet dance floor is transformed during live band or solo performances, equipped sound system, it is a place that has something to offer everyone. Open all days of the week, from noon to midnight, they have different nights dedicated to different forms of music such as Thump Thursdays, The Jam Fridays, Hip-Hop Showdown on Sundays, karaoke nights among other highlights.
Where: 95, Desapriya Park, Kolkata
Earlier Plush, now Phoenix, this place has risen from the ashes of Plush! The newly opened venue at The Astor Hotel is just a few months old and it’s already killing the scene with many highlighting traits. Located in the heart of the city, Theatre Road, this place has gone for a complete makeover, and now it is roomier and luxurious. Being designed on brick and wood with a modern ceiling, Phoenix is set to become the perfect joint for live performances with a talented line up of musicians and bands. We couldn’t miss the Madrix LED Lighting that configures 50,000 effects in sync with the music. Indeed powerful, stunning and simple at the same time.
Where: The Astor, 15, Shakespeare Sarani, Near Nightingale Hospital, Camac Street, Kolkata
Monkey Bar, self-proclaimed to be India’s first gastropub, opened in Kolkata last year in September. Talk about an incredible view of the City of Joy, some fresh sounds, innovative cocktails, you can’t miss out Monkey Bar. They also have dedicated nights for the music enthusiasts such as Karaoke on Tuesdays, Live bands on Fridays, Classic Unplugged Nights, and you can also expect the DJ to start playing around 10 pm for all the latecomers. A laid-back evening with chilled out acoustic sets accompanied with a stunning view of the Kolkata skyline, this place is definitely a toast to Kolkata.
Where: 9th Floor, Fort Knox Building, 6 Camac Street, Kolkata
Afra Tafri, the newly opened place, is filled with enthusiastic vibes, cosiness, and of course, infectious music. The 10,000sq ft. space is basically an all-day eatery divided into three sections. The large area (at the end) can be transformed into a PDR or a conference room, the main seating area with 180+ seats includes a spacious bar with an open smoking zone. We really loved the lights made from drum kits, the boom box styled DJ console, vintage microphones over the bar and the string of lights among the other quirky decor. Want to experience back the good old Calcutta charm? Head to Afra Tafri on a Wednesday to listen to your favourite acoustic sets on a chilly winter evening. The place won’t disappoint you.
Where: 9, Camac St, Elgin, Kolkata, West Bengal
Hard Rock Café Kolkata
The iconic Hard Rock Café opened its doors to Kolkata on 20 December 2017. Located Park Street, the nightlife hub of Kolkata, the cafe is undoubtedly a must visit. The multilevel, 5540 square-feet cafe consists of 161+ seating, a live performing space, audio-visual system and a vibrant bar will definitely boost the local music scene of Kolkata (apart from Rock & Roll experience). Don’t forget to feast your eyes on the handpicked pieces of memorabilia and valued belongings from legendary musicians around the world. Also, do check out the exclusive retail space for the collectable Hard Rock Cafe merchandise.
Where: Park Mansion, 57A, Park St, Kolkata, West Bengal
Talk about Live music on a roof-top with an ambience that surrounds everything in between, What’s Up! Café is definitely a top-class experience. Add to that a Jacuzzi to dip your feet in while you enjoy your favourite music. Started in October 2015, the place has risen from just a café to a live music spot. They call their live music project/s WhatsUp Live which has showcased performances from the city’s best independent musicians.
Where: 122A, Southern Avenue (opp. Nazrul Manch), Kolkata, West Bengal
A first of its kind music cafe in Kolkata – as they claim, Jam House is a den for all the audiophiles and music junkies. Groove, jam and lose yourself in music coupled with good vibes, that has been the focus of Jam House. The décor of the venue is very quirky to say the least. The ground floor has a permanent music set up and boasts of ‘music-centric’ decoration containing cassettes, vinyl records and lyrics written on the walls. Head to Jam House for an evening of unadulterated live music. Oh, yes, you can be one of the jammers too.
Where: 1, AJC Bose Road, Ground Floor (Lord Sinha Road), Kolkata
The name Woodstock 1969 explains the theme of the café, though it doesn’t look like a café from outside. Woodstock 1969 is a place where you can sit back and enjoy retro, western classics in an unpretentious atmosphere, especially on Sunday evenings. No other café will give you the wonderful collection of retro music that this gem of an eatery has to offer.
Where: 3, Greek Church Row, Kolkata, West Bengal