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The best livehouses in Beijing

Live for live music? You've come to the right place

Flickr/Edwin Lee
Gigs, to a lot of us sweaty-faced moshpit denizens here in Beijing, really do make the world go round. The city is seen by many as the capital for indie and rock music in China, and the talent that we've got spilling out of dive bars and hutong alleyways alike has flourished partly due to a supportive and voracious live music scene centred around some truly special venues.

Which is where this list comes in – we've rounded up the vast majority of Beijing's livehouses, bashed up a little summary of each one to give you an idea of the vibe of the place, and shoved them all together in a celebration of the long, hedonistic nights dancing to some truly exciting sounds that are one of the hallmarks of our beloved city. Read this list, love these venues, and don't forget to support your local music scene.

Best for big gigs

Yugong Yishan (愚公移山)

Yugong Yishan takes the top spot for its excellent programming and support of local acts. The venue’s size gives it the clout to pull in the bigger names, but Yugong’s commitment to the local scene never wanes. Its varied programming focuses on high-profile and credible international acts. The last year has seen acts such as Sun Kil Moon, of Montreal and A$AP Ferg play; it's local bookings are non-too shabby either. Yugong also wins the prize for Beijing’s most rock ’n’ roll bathroom – but that’s another story.

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3-2 Zhangzizhong Lu (Miyun county)

Tango

While it lacks the knockabout community charm of Yugong Yishan, the band room at Tango's split-level layout and extra acreage make it the next step up for touring international bands, and pretty much the last stop before stadiumsville in the capital. It's excellent, rounded sound system and lighting set-up isn't exactly to be sniffed at, either.

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79 Hepingli Xijie (Miyun county)

Best for unabashed hedonism

School Live Bar

Lairy, sweaty and packed to the brim most gig nights with pinwheeling, pogo-ing punters, the fact that you can practically taste the beer residue on the walls at School shouldn't put you off what is essentially one of Beijing's most fun venues. Specialising in punk, metal and rock shows, School is one of the most anarchic setups in Beijing (which is precisely why we love it).

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53 Wudaoying Hutong (Chaoyang, --select--)

Temple Bar

This Gulou institution is a pillar of the local scene, supporting grassroots music and new bands as well as booking the odd international headliner. Music aside, the bar is a reliable late-night party hangout with a good crowd and a crackling atmosphere, especially on weekends when the bar often stays open up to first light. 

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206 Gulou Dong Dajie (Miyun county)

13 Club

Students are hardly famed for their restraint, and 13 Club is fully aware of this fact; the unpretentious environs of one of Wudaokao's grungiest hotspots might not be palatial, but on weekends they play host to some of the most kickin' parties in the capital. We wouldn't wear your finest threads to visit, though.

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161 Lanqiying, Chengfu Lu (Shunyi)

Best for superlative sound

Yue Space

The audio setup at Yue Space is pretty impressive and complements a venue that is rapidly emerging as one of the most pleasant in Beijing. There's stacks of space for dancing, and a raised stage that means even the titchiest gig-goer should be able to get an okay view.

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7 Banqiaonanxiang

Omni Space (疆进酒)

With a buzzing atmosphere that belies its position as part of the Tianqiao Performing Arts Centre complex, Omni Space has solid acoustics and natty hardware and subsequently imbues gigs with the kind of sound quality that is a step up from many of the venues here in Beijing. Although it's in a quiet area of town, we're fans of it's understated charm.

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9 Tianqiao Nan Dajie (Chaoyang, --select--)

Best for a chilled-out vibe

Dusk Dawn Club (DDC)

Perhaps Beijing's prettiest venue, DDC is housed in a hutong courtyard and features a relaxed bar area as well as a cute, petite space for flailing around and plenty of mood lighting. It's not somewhere you'd head to smash it up, but it'll definetely look pretty in the background of your snapshots.

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14 Shanlao Hutong (Miyun county)

Fruityspace

With a minimalist aesthetic that could be exported wholesale to New York or London, Fruityspace is a squeezed-in underground lair for all things avant-garde, alternative and otherwise. Now the premier showcase room for the experimental blips and bleeps of Beijing and beyond, Fruityspace is precisely what you need if you're looking for a low-key gig in hyper-trendy surroundings.

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13 Meishuguan Dong Jie

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