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Easy listening: live music venues

13:38 26/08/2015
Top places to check out a band on the spur of the moment


La Porte Noire

Just down the hill from Sablon, La Porte Noire is the perfect place to go if you’re a folk fan. This underground bar (mind the steps!) with its brick interior and low rounded roof emits an instant ambience, and on gig nights the place really comes alive. There are concerts every Thursday night offering folk music in all its interpretations, with Irish traditional music sessions every other Tuesday and a Brussels Folk Club concert every second Sunday of the month. 67 Rue des Alexiens.

As popular among local musicians as it is with the tourists who converge there, many head to BiIzon for its Monday night blues jam. You forget you’re in Brussels as the moody twang of minor chords transports you across the Atlantic. Concerts are held on Wednesdays with a well-loved piano always ready for accompaniment, and if it’s a good night you’ll hear the staff slam-dunking coins into the musician’s tip bucket that hangs over the bar. A friendly bar with a lively atmosphere that gives homesick live-music lovers a reminder of what they’ve been missing. 7 Rue du Pont de la Carpe.

Thon Hotel
The Thon Hotel Music Sessions consistently present excellent live music, and it’s no wonder, with gigs programmed by a concert-coordinator at Botanique. Held every Tuesday evening with the first act starting at 18.00, it’s a good opportunity to catch some live music after a day’s work. You’ll be treated to free performances by some great acts, many on European tours from overseas, in the O Bar of the Thon Hotel directly across from City 2 shopping centre. 
17 Avenue du Boulevard

Music Village
Created by two friends with a passion for jazz, this 100-seater venue was designed to compete with the best international jazz clubs. Close to the Grand Place, it hosts music almost every night. It’s one of the top places to enjoy jazz in Brussels, attracting top Belgian and international musicians.  Concerts cost between €7.50 and €25. And it’s not strictly limited to jazz – sometimes you’ll find Afro-Cuban, Brazilian or folk music on the programme. 50 Rue des Pierres.

Scott’s Bar
If Brussels’ more jazz and techno-oriented music scene doesn’t do it for you and you’re missing your fix of rock and pop, Scott’s Bar is the place to go on a Saturday night. With many of the city’s gigging musicians on its roster, you’ll be sure to find something you like. Every second Thursday of the month there’s also a singer-songwriter showcase – recorded live for expat station Radio X – with artists playing original music for an appreciative audience. 51 Rue Montagne aux Herbes Potagères .

Bar du Matin
A trendy bar on the border of Saint-Gilles and Forest, Bar du Matin provides an eclectic range of music in its free Thursday night concerts. A sister bar of Café Belga at Flagey and nearby Potemkine, it also hosts a DJ set after the live performance and a terrace for sunny evenings. Drop in for alternative music from all backgrounds from pop to rock to acid jazz. 172 Chaussée d'Alsemberg

A l’Imaige Nostre Dame
Tucked away down a tiny passageway in the heart of the old town, l’Imaige is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike, the latter often coming back for the live music held every Thursday to Saturday. The bar is small but has a definite charm and the quizzical gaze of the deer busts on the walls only adds to the authenticity. A great bar for acoustic music in a cosy, friendly atmosphere.
3 Impasse des Cadeaux.


Ferme du Biéreau
A former farm now converted into a cultural centre, the Ferme du Biéreau is just outside Louvain-La-Neuve. When the university took ownership of the surrounding land, it decided to make the farm into a cultural space and now it hosts recording sessions, workshops and exhibitions. There are regular concerts with styles ranging from jazz to world music to French chanson; tickets are available online, with some shows free. Avenue du Jardin Botanique, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve.

Podiumcafe Ami
This cafe in the old town is serious about live music – enjoy a beer and some food while listening to the sounds of musicians from Flanders and beyond. Piano and guitars are available to musicians, with styles ranging from folk to acoustic rock. 59 Sint Katelijnevest, Antwerp

For jazz, funk and soul lovers:

Sounds Jazz Club 28 Rue de la Tulipe

L’Archiduc 6 Rue Antoine Dansaert

Bravo 7 Rue d'Alost


Bonnefooi 8 Rue des Pierres

Café Central 14 Rue Borgval

Rock, pop, reggae and the rest:

Bar des Amis 30 Rue Sainte-Catherine

Cafe Floréo 19 Rue des Riches Claires


This article was first published in Best of Belgium 2015

Written by Karen McHugh



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