With its speckled linoleum floor, hanging plastic plants and mounted deer head, Snake Livehouse feels more like the basement of an old community centre than it does a rock venue.
But then, kitsch-chic seems to be the aesthetic they’re going for – an appropriate look for a livehouse located on the seventh floor of Sanlitun’s Yashow Market. Considering Beijing’s Guloucentric music scene, it might seem like an odd location for a livehouse, but then music wasn’t its original intention.
The venue first opened
last year as a tattoo parlour (‘CYT Tattoo Club’), where customers could get inked by international artists. It was in autumn that it began to double as a performance space, drawing local acts ranging from punk to hip-hop.
Despite its proximity to Sanlitun’s swanky restaurants and speciality bars, Snake has maintained its gritty environs, mixing the feel of a rock dive with the beer-soaked charms of a neighbourhood hangout.
Glass-topped wicker tables dot the area around the bar, and play host to larger parties in alcoves along the wall, while a pool table in the corner and a dart board offer some inter-band diversion.
Most exciting, though, is the rooftop, which the managers say will be open in the summer for parties and DJ sets. In terms of drinks, the bar offers a decent selection at moderate prices (shots from 20RMB, cocktails
40-50RMB, beers 20-50RMB).
This place qualifies more as a live music hang out than a proper venue – sound isn’t their number-one priority, and the booking has been average considering the ticket prices of 50-80RMB – but it’s got a lot of potential and, best of all, is bringing local live music back to Sanlitun for the first time in years.
‘People think you can only do rock in Gulou, but we don’t think so,’ says manager He Longtian. ‘Sanlitun draws tons of people every weekend, but there’s no live music venue catering to them. We wanted to be the first.’
Get there The venue is open later than the market, so you'll need to enter via a side door on the west side of the building (the side not facing Taikoo Li). Go through the side entrance (you'll see a neon sign for a tattoo parlour) and head down the corridor until you find an elevator. Head up to the sixth floor and turn left out of the elevator. Walk along the corridor, past a pool hall and up the stairs to the venue.