Concerts and music venues, collectives and local talents in Dubai
With a growing audience for live, independent music, the underground community is growing more organised, with more and more venues supporting original acts.
Local talent management company Fridge Dubai was, in 2009, one of the first to open its own performance venue in Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz, to promote local talent. In a trendy warehouse space, Fridge Dubai hosts weekly open auditions with a view to welcoming new artists into the fold, whether a budding rock star or an Arabic goatskin bagpipe player.
The time-honoured practice of busking is now more welcomed in Dubai, with spots like The Beach mall in Jumeirah Beach Residence giving upcoming local musicians the opportunity to perform live in a relaxed outdoor setting during such busy periods as Dubai Shopping Festival and the festive season.
Then there’s Freshly Ground Sounds. Founded in 2013 by lawyer and music-lover Ismat Abidi, this not-for-profit initiative brings together passionate musicians and creatives who long for an alternative music platform. Freshly Ground Sounds has grown organically from the strength of its offering, from a cosy audience of 20 people at their first gig to the hundreds that now turn up.
Dubai bands to watch out for
Putting Dubai on the music map is alternative rock group Juliana Down, one of the first to hit the big time with a full-length album and a coveted support slot for international stars 30 Seconds to Mars under their belts.
Dubai-born Hamdan al Abri has grown a strong regional following as both a solo musician and as the front man of soul group Abri, who have toured internationally.
The Boxtones, a locally-based rock band composed of Scottish and Canadian expats, are another popular fixture in Dubai’s independent music circuit.
Where to see live music in Dubai
The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Dubai
This Bur Dubai venue has earned a reputation for hosting some of the best live music nights in the city. Apart from the talented house band, EvolveR, and visiting international artists, its jam-packed events roster includes local bands espousing genres such as western music as well as that of the Indian subcontinent.
Majestic Hotel, Al Mankhool Road, Bur Dubai
+971 4 501 2534
A concept from London, the Dubai outpost has quickly become a popular home of live music (not just jazz) accompanied by good Italian food (not just pizza)! Abri performs alongside Funk Radius on a weekly basis, and they also host open mic nights every Sunday.
Cluster A, Al Sarayat St, Jumeirah Lake Towers
+971 4 441 6342
The Fridge Dubai
Their regular concert series in their Al Quoz venue showcases locally-based artists performing original material, whether it’s jazz or hip hop or opera.
Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz 1
+971 4 347 7793
Hard Rock Cafe
This international juggernaut needs no introduction, and it has a good live band every night – mostly playing covers.
Zone 8A, Dubai Festival Mall
One of only two in the world – the original is in Beirut – this unique, theatre-style venue located in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray sees multiple artists across different genres performing short acts in quick succession, making for a lively, varied and entertaining experience. The acts are of a very high standard, brought in from around the region and world.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Palm Jumeirah
+971 56 270 8670