Links to useful open mic guides to Kuala Lumpur:
Open Mic Malaysia. A great guide, well laid out and clear. And most importantly, it is created and run by a musician who plays in the open mics himself. This is Shaneil Devaser, who also has an EP for sale.
Doppelgänger. Run by Jasmine Low, known as Jaz, this page has lots of music gig news, and is also the home base page for the Doppelgänger open mic, which Jaz also organizes and that have been around for years in KL. Keep an eye on the gig guide for dates and locations.
Brad Spurgeon’s findings on Open Mics in Kuala Lumpur:
As with many places, over the years I have performed at more open mics in Kuala Lumpur than I have listed here, but most of them have either closed down or I cannot find further trace of them.
Sunday – Doppelgänger – I have included Doppelganger in my personal list because although I have never actually played at the open mic I have met Jaz, who organizes them, and I did play a set at her venue, the DoPPel Kafé, when it existed. It closed in January this year. I was never in KL on the day of the open mic, but I can tell by its reputation and by having met Jaz, that it would be worth doing. Follow the Facebook link above, but also the Doppelgänger blog. Contact Jaz at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday – Merdekarya, 352 Jalan 5/57 (above Sunny-Raj), Petaling Garden, Jalan Gasing, 46000 PJ SGR MY. M: 016-207-1553 (Brian), NOW SEVERAL NIGHTS A WEEK E: email@example.com Run by Brian Gomez, an author and musician (with an album on Bandcamp), this place has a real authentic and unique vibe. It is located in a suburb and you need a taxi driver with a GPS to find it. On the first floor above a food stall kind of restaurant, Merdekarya also serves lots of food now: Western food like spaghetti bolognese, lamb burgers, etc., as well as sandwiches, like garlic grilled cheese and garlic bread. They also serve beer, and liquor by the glass. (Downstairs, by the way, they have a BBQ area for private parties.) The room where the open mic takes place is like a loft, and there is a back section with a couch and a library…. The first night I played at the Merdekarya open mic I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the other musicians, a real gathering of many of Malaysia’s finest underground musicians. The sound system is excellent, and the entire evening memorable. It is now operating several nights a week and runs with a featured band and three artists for the open mic, and you must sign up in advance on the web site for a slot. So check out the available slots well in advance.
Frontera, (Second and fourth Wednesday of the month, 8pm onwards), an unlikely location for an open mic, this one has nevertheless been running for a while, and has some small success. Located in a Mexican restaurant in a shopping mall, one of the advantages to it is that the facade is open to the mall, so you can hope that your music will attract new customers – i.e., listeners – if it is a slow night. A nice challenge. 72A Jalan Universiti, Palm Square, Jaya One, 46200 PJ SGR MY, M: 012-292-8096 (Ramesh), E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday – Cafenine “Music Flow” open mic, open jam, open anything, jalan gereja, 50450 Kuala Lumpur, (Weekly, 10pm onwards), I almost left this Cafenine “music flow” night when I thought that it was just about a DJ playing music and anyone else getting up and hitting the drums to the DJ music, or hitting a bass or a kazoo. But then this turned into a fabulous open mic/open jam, and anything goes – single performers, jams, whatever. Definitely worth checking out, and don’t arrive too early. It is a ground floor bar and restaurant with hip and cool, laid back but classy deco. There’s a restaurant and a club next-door, the club, Under9, also has music things happening – but not an open mic.
The Pan Bistro, 9:45 – 11:30, although I have not taken part in this open mic, I did play at the previous venue of the man who organizes this, Atraz Ismail. In fact, now, a year later, I am not even sure this still exists. Atraz’s SENYAP organization specializes in finding and nurturing new talent and has spawned its own underground musical culture. 18-G Jalan Setia Indah Y U13 Setia Alam, Shah Alam, 40170 Selangor, Phone 019-252 2509, Email: email@example.com
The main place you would probably want to start looking at for full-fledged bands and other cool musical stuff are:
– Backyard Pub & Grill, for the past decade, Edmund Anthony has been booking the music into this neighborhood bar, and he knows what he is doing. From full-fledged pop bands to singer songwriters, the Backyard has everything, and it has it every night of the week. Check out the guide. A typical week moves from the quieter stuff to the louder stuff, with the weekend being the height of the party. One of the best musical venues in Kuala Lumpur. The only drawback is finding it as it is located outside the center of KL: (o/b JHNC Trading Sdn Bhd 349747-K), 26/28/30 Jalan Sri Hartamas 8, 50480 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Tel: +603 6201 0318, Fax: +603 6203 1031, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
– Rockafellas, big on blues and soul, this is a great club where the stage is sometimes open for other musicians, although there is no formal open mic as such. Owned and operated by Russell Curtis, a singer and guitarist, it is really worth going for a fun night of great music and food, in a fairly classy environment. GF-B, Ground Floor, Intan Square, 3 Lorong Utara C, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. Phone 03-79315925 / 0126010834 Email email@example.com