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Swinging Times at the Backyard Pub & Grill in Kuala Lumpur

April 9, 2011

Backyard Pub & Grill Kuala Lumpur

Backyard Pub & Grill Kuala Lumpur

Doing my open mic on Wednesday at Laila’s bar, Juliet, the owner, introduced me to Edmund Anthony, who, she said, runs the music show at the Backyard Pub & Grill in Kuala Lumpur.

“It’s like the top music venue in KL,” she said.

That was about all it took for me to decide I had to check out the Backyard. Well, that and the fact that Edmund seemed like a very cool guy and our tastes in music jibed.

So I took a cab to the Backyard last night and found the place already jam packed more than an hour before the band was due to go up. Fridays it is always a madhouse, I learned. So I sat down out on the terrace and had a beer and then a meal, discussing the Malaysian music scene with Edmund and two of the musicians of the band that would play last night.

The band was Hydra Band, and it is one of the top cover bands in Malaysia. I gabbed with the friendly and outgoing lead guitar player, G-Beng, and the lead vocalist, Lan, who also plays rhythm acoustic. They play every Friday in the Backyard, and I know that if I lived in KL I would show up here more than just every Friday.

There is music every night of the week at the Backyard, and Edmund explained that it starts off with solo artists, then duos, then trios, then full-piece bands as the week progresses. The pub, which has existed for 21 years, has hosted many of the top musicians and bands in the country.

We talked a lot about how some venues in certain locations just manage to succeed, while others can’t attract anyone. The Backyard is curious is that it is located in a fine residential area outside the center of the city with no nearby public transport lines. It is located in what journalists like to describe as a “leafy neighborhood.”

But people go. Do they ever go. The Backyard not only has a fabulous stage and cool wooden wall interior, pool tables and good food – the Mutton Fried Rice that I ate on the recommendation of Edmund and G-Beng was fabulous – but it has interesting music and a true pub-like feel to it. And it is apparently a place where people like to be seen. That, in any case, was the vibe I picked up; but at the same time it was very comfortable and unpretentious – even a little raucous. (Although Friday is apparently the craziest day.)

Hydra was a very together band, G-Beng played a mean lead and Lan had a good, strong voice. The others sang well too. And what I noticed about this particular cover band was that they had their own way of doing the cover songs. It wasn’t just a carbon copy of the original as we might hear it covered by cover bands anywhere else in the world or by the original group….

Had I not done Laila’s open mic, I would probably never have discovered the Backyard. We visiting workers and tourists tend to stick in the city center and visit the usual places and bars. This was just slightly out of the way, but worth it.

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