Tiger Tales story: ‘Go Indie in Kuala Lumpur’, July 2014

My first story for Tiger Tales Australia’s sister publication, Tiger Tales Asia, looking at the independent music scene in Kuala Lumpur. The full story appears underneath; click the image below to view as a PDF. Special thanks to Razlan Shah for helping pulling this together.

Kuala Lumpur

Everyone knows Kuala Lumpur has its fair share of glitzy bars and thumping dance clubs but what about venues dedicated to good live music? Up-and-coming jazz singer Razlan Shah gives Matt Shea a tour of his favourite spots.

1. NO BLACK TIE

At the top of my list is No Black Tie (NBT), located on the edge of the busy Changkat Bukit Bintang area. You can go to No Black Tie to listen to all kinds of jazz and well-established local bands. Every time I play there, I’m reminded that it’s a venue built specifically for good acoustics. And when I’m in the audience, I love how intimate it feels. Some musicians get really up close and personal, and it’s great for a date or an easy night with good friends. The drinks can get expensive, but go for the music – it’s some of the best in Kuala Lumpur. John Ashley Thomas Trio, Rozz and Cheryl Tan are favourites.

17 Jln Mesui, KLCC; noblacktie.com.my

2. THE BEE

This café-cum-music venue at Jaya One is popular with younger crowds, attracting theatre and music students from the nearby college who want a place to share and collaborate ideas. That spirit is maintained at a second larger space, which opened in Publika, a fantastic arts-centric shopping mall in Mont Kiara. It’s a terrific looking venue – converted warehouse with wood and exposed brick. Both venues attract many professional acts, including international musicians, but it’s their open mic on Tuesday nights that sets them apart. They’re extremely popular with people from all over Malaysia and even tourists trying to get their voices out in front of very supportive crowds.

36B, Level G2, Publika, Solaris Dutamas, Jln Dutamas 1 50480 and 2A-G, Block K, Jaya One, 72A Jln Universiti, Petaling Jaya; thebee.com.my

3. LAUNDRY BAR 

The Laundry Bar is another place where you can check out more recognised musicians, both local and international, playing everything from hip-hop and dance to rock. It’s an inviting outdoor- indoor bar: there’s a big stage, an elevated platform, vintage couches, masks on the wall and great lighting. Laundry has been around for something like a decade, so they must be doing it right. Every musician I know regards it as a place you should play.

Lot 72, Ground Floor, The Curve, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya; laundrybar.net

4. MERDEKARYA

Merdekarya is the most amazing, DIY, hole- in-the-wall place you can find in Petaling Jaya, and maybe the whole of Malaysia. It sits above a mamak stall, far from the tourist beat. Author and musician Brian Gomez and his wife Melani Delilkan founded Merdekarya. There are artist- painted walls, wood pallet shelves, and books by local authors. A lot of people don’t know about this jewel and part of me doesn’t want to give away the secret!

352 Jln 5/57, Petaling Jaya; merdekarya.com

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Tigerair flies to Kuala Lumpur 27 times a week from Singapore. To book your holiday, visit www.tigerair.com.

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