Dubai is no stranger to international music acts such as Sting and Elton John. The city regularly welcomes some of the world’s biggest bands to its shores, but there’s also a constantly growing live music scene that’s just waiting to be explored. If you know where to look, you can hear everything from brand new music to some of the weirdest and most wonderful cover acts in the UAE, with many venues hosting bands seven nights a week. Here are four regular nights for you to get your live music fix.
The Music Room has made several moves to broaden its horizons, including launching JamNights, which give experienced and novice local bands a chance to try out their skills on stage. The results are variable, but there’s usually some good stuff to be heard at every show.
JamNight is at The Music Room every Tuesday, Dhs25 with one free drink
A year and three months after its launch, this weekly local music night has gathered a decent audience of up-for-it fans. Despite its name, Metal Asylum has moved away from its guitar-thrashing origins and now offers spots to all kinds of local acts, from hard-rock bands to punk and even pop-rock outfits. It also hosts international acts on occasion, and two such bands will play next month: April 2 sees Iranian death metal band Arsames up on stage, while Indian rockers Evergreen (you may have seen them at Dubai SoundCity) will play on April 9. This week’s gig will feature a series of local bands, plus a round of rock and metal music from resident DJ Sister Rock.
Metal Asylum is at Rockwell, Capitol Hotel every Friday, Dhs50
Peanut Butter Jam
Ah, a Dubai institution: PBJ transforms Wafi Rooftop (one of our favourite outdoor venues – see page 18) into an ultra-chilled, beanbag-filled amphitheatre of rock. And funk, and acoustic strumming, and a capella, and just about every other genre that’s fun and non-aggressive. It’s inevitable that the bands vary hugely in quality, but at their best they include both PBJ-only bands such as The Funkin’ Donuts (whose guitarist throws in some mean Jimi Hendrix guitar-tossing moves during their sets) and the cream of the city’s house bands looking to stretch their wings a bit. You won’t hear many original tunes, but expect some quality covers.
Peanut Butter Jam is at Wafi Rooftop every Friday, free
As much as Dubai loves its rock and metal – you’ve probably gathered that from the three nights we’ve just mentioned – it also has a smoother, cooler side. For proof, get yourself along to The Roof Top (also a favourite al-fresco venue – see page 18) this Thursday for one of its regular jazz nights. The music alternates between flamenco-jazz vocalist and guitarist Vicente and funky female singer Mestiza, and they’re both joined by a drummer and bassist for the full sonic effect.
Thursdays Unplugged is at The Roof Top every Thursday, free
This week’s specials
As well as those regular gigs, there are three special events coming to town this week. Here’s the skinny
Double Decker Rock fest
This two-day mini music festival is led by Colombian rocker Fatiniza (pic right) on Thursday 18 and brilliantly named rockers Mr Grumpy’s Old Band on Friday 19.
Double Decker Rock Fest is at Double Decker, March 18 and 19, free
Pink Floyd Tribute Concert
Strange as it sounds, this night is in safe hands: local band Point of View know what they’re doing and promise 90 minutes of Floyd action, including a special laser show.
Pink Floyd Tribute Concert is at The Music Room, March 19, Dhs60
This irregular but highly enjoyable night of local music has returned with a four-act set. Parikrama are a Delhi-based rock ’n’ roll band whose warm-up work for Iron Maiden in India was so good that the band invited Parikrama to open for them at the UK’s Download festival. They’re joined by Mahes Tinaikar from US rock band Indus Creed; Bharath from hard rockers Agni; and Point of View again – doing originals this time.
Rock Nation is at The Music Room, March 25, Dhs60