Where to hear live music in Buenos Aires
With a city boasting more than 11 million people you get a wide variety of live music being played throughout the city every night of the week. Here’s our list of great places to hear live jazz, rock, folklore (traditional Argentinean country music) and more.
Notorious Jazz Club
Callao 966 (near Callao and Paraguay in Recoleta neighborhood)
Great live jazz shows, improv sessions on Friday nights starting at midnight. Shows performed daily. http://www.notorious.com.ar/agenda.php
Thelonious Jazz Club
Jeronimo Salguero 1884 (near Salguero and Guemes in Barrio Norte aka area between Recoleta and Palermo neighborhoods)
Mainly a jazz scene although the occasional live motown themed band makes appearances this jazz bar has a nice whiskey selection and the bartenders are more skilled than your average bar man in Argentina. http://www.thelonious.com.ar/english/
Boris Jazz Club
Gorriti 5568 (near Gorriti and Fitz Roy in Palermo Hollywood neighborhood)
One of the classiest jazz joints in town. Shows performed daily, grand piano is provided by the house making for some of the city’s best performers to make appearances. http://www.borisclub.com/eventos.html
Gorriti 3780 (near Gorriti and Jeronimo Salguero, Palermo neighborhood)
This small neighborhood cafe has a wide variety of jazz, tango, folklore and live music almost every day of the week. Both local and national musicians make frequent appearances to promote their latest albums or just to jam. A bit off the beaten path, but well worth a visit. This is my top pick from this entire list.
Bonus: There are non-traditional hand crafted beers sold here; smoked red ale, blonde ale and a cream stout.
This style of music is the traditional country of Argentina. What Bluegrass is to the United States, Folklore is to Argentina. Often played with a combination, but not limited to a guitar, charango (an instrument similar to a ukulele), bass drum, violin, piano, accordion, “quena” (a simple bamboo or wooden recorder) and harp. The use and combination of these instruments depends on which region the music is based on.
A peña is traditionally a village gathering of food, music and dance. Peñas are still common, however, in Buenos Aires it is obviously not a village gathering, but more of an event to those that are interested. Traditional dancing, food and music will all be accounted for.
The most accessible peñas or bars and clubs that host these types of shows are:
Costa Rica 4848 (near Costa Rica and Thames in Palermo Soho)
Rustic wooden tables, northern Argentinean cuisine, charangos and guitars blazing, La Paila puts on a variety of musicians throughout the week folklore style. Entry usually runs around $6 USD check their schedule for who is playing and when. http://www.lapaila-restaurante.com.ar/shows.htm
Jorge L. Borges 2180 (near Borges and Paraguay in Palermo Soho)
A restaurant that is very dedicated to showing city folk and travelers alike what a real peña is. Ample seating, daily music shows and good country food. http://www.cardones.com.ar
La Peña del Colorado
Güemes 3657 (near Güemes and Jeronimo Salguero in Barrio Norte)
The most well known and accessible peña for foreigners. Good Nothern style Argentine cuisine, regular live shows and lots of crowd (voluntary) participation. Definitely worth your time to swing by one night. Consider making reservations or arriving early though. http://www.lapeniadelcolorado.com.ar/
There are 3 different venues for hearing live tango music; the professional tango shows, milongas (tango dance clubs) and regular bars or clubs that feature tango musicians (For a list of the best check out the professional tango shows). I personally recommend the Cafe de los Angelitos tango show. Their musicians are the most talented of the shows I have personally tested out.
Bar de Roberto
Bulnes 331 (near Bulnes and Juan D Peron in the Almagro neighborhood)
Best to pass by this old school, run down bar after 12 midnight on Thursday, Friday or Saturday night. Expect a jammed interior full of tables, but to hear some of the most genuine singers, guitar players and bandoneon (tango accordion) puppet masters. Bohemians, retirees and few travelers, this is the real deal. This place doesn’t even have a phone.
Lima 27 (near Lima and Avenida de Mayo in the Microcentro neighborhood or downtown)
Another low key venue, this restaurant has a local, neighborhood vibe. Mini-tango shows, bands and singers frequent the venue. Their Facebook page is your best on finding out what’s the haps.
Defensa 1575 (near Defensa and Caseros in the San Telmo neighborhood)
If you are a real lover of music and are interested in hearing some of the up and coming greats or simply some very talented tango musicians this is the place to go.
Sarmiento 4006 (near Sarmiento and Medrano in the Almagro neighborhood)
This tango club and bar deserves the gold star. Live music after 11 pm, if you show up around 7:00 pm entry includes a free group tango class. The creaky large wooden floor boards and simple bar rally make this location unique and special. Be sure to review the calendar as class times and ability levels change frequently.
Rock, funk and random live music
Makena Catina Club
Fitz Roy 1519 (near Fitz Roy and Cabrera in Palermo Hollywood)
A variety of shows (rock, local DJ’s, rock nacional) are played here, but the most popular and crowd drawing performers are their funk shows. Check their Facebook page for the calendar as their webpage seems to be outdated.
Pan y Arte
Boedo 880 (near Boedo and Carlos Calvo in the San Cristobal neighborhood)
A bit off the beaten track this restaurant and theater has a variety of theater productions and music every night. Their Thursday Salsa-Jazz trio has begun to gather quite the following. Calendar: http://www.panyarte.com.ar/info.php?pag=2957
Humberto Primo 489 (near Humberto Primo and Bolivar in the San Telmo neighborhood)
This is the place to be if you want to get a taste of what the local rock talent pool is producing. Cheap beers, a friendly and fun atmosphere- this is a must do on your live music list for Buenos Aires.
Loyola 788 (near Loyola and Serrano in the Villa Crespo neighborhood, about 10 blocks from Plaza Serrano in Palermo)
Home to Argentina’s first Reggae radio station this bar also houses great live reggae shows from time to time. Be sure to check their schedule as shows are not consistent.
Bigger Music Venues
Big international acts like the Foo Fighters, Roger Waters, Madonna and Sting will all likely play in either El Monumental (River Plate’s football stadium), Teatro Gran Rex or Luna Park. Tickets for these shows will be sold online through TicketTek or another large ticket distributor.
Sarmiento 3151 (near Sarmiento and Anchorena in the Abasto neighborhood)
A large open air half warehouse, this venue draws hundreds of hippies, travelers and curious onlookers for their “Bomba del Tiempo” improv percussion show. Massive 2 pint beers, space cakes, dancing and fun to be had. Check their website for other alternative music performances and shows.
Tucumán 1171 (near Tucuman and 9 de Julio in the downtown or Microcentro neighborhood)
The internationally famous, top ten in the world theater reopened in 2011 after almost 4 years of renovations and administrative issues. Operas, ballets, orchestras and other classy performances can be seen here for as little as $7 USD (nosebleeds). How to get tickets to Teatro Colón. Schedule of performances (good luck being able to read their multi-sectioned calendar):
La Trastienda Club
Balcarce 460 (near Balcarce and Venezuela in the San Telmo neighborhood)
A mid-sized concert hall for about 2,000 people has hosted everything from hard rockers The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club to the much gentler and humorous tunes of Kevin Johansen and the Nada.