Looking at Bangkok’s music scene from the outside is likely to send travellers in the opposite direction.

With plenty of cover bands and a wild nightlife reputation (which was unfortunately the setting for the reprehensible Hangover 2 film), most might think there’s little else to do in the city but get completely wasted.

But of course, as we all know, it’s foolish to judge a book by its cover.

Fat Radio, the station which not only puts on its own festival but is also the city’s biggest supporter of local music, heavily champions Bangkok’s indie music scene, and there are plenty of great local bands playing across the city every night. A variety of venues host live acts that play music which varies from jazz to death metal and everything in-between.

If you plan on remembering your time in Bangkok, the city’s famed nightlife can be an incredible accompaniment to your live gig going.

In a sense, the music barely stops. While the live band you intended to see may have finished, there are numerous clubs boasting their own DJs if an early morning is what you’re after.

Once again voted last year as one of the best cities in the world to experience the best in nocturnal activities, tourists are destined to have a memorable time.

While the bands in Bangkok take their influences from right around the world, traditional music can be sampled from the streets and in selected restaurants. Unsurprisingly traditional Thai music is a mixture of textures taken from their neighbours in India and China.

The city’s past also plays a pivotal role in the music that still influences local acts today. While jazz came into prominence in the 1930s and rock in the 60s, those looking to catch bands playing such music today will have little trouble in finding a venue to accommodate their taste

The music venues of Bangkok can be considerably quirky, whether it’s a band at a local take away restaurant or an all girl group playing in an ice bar, to say that your trip to the city will be interesting is an understatement.

This city of eight million people may not be renowned for its live music scene but that doesn’t mean your time in Bangkok has to be based around the typical stories of trashy drunkenness that comes from the area.

Sure, it would be remiss of travellers not to revel in the city’s nightlife, but to miss out on the local music on offer would be just as big of a mistake.

Bangkok Festivals/Conferences 

Big Mountain Music Festival: While it’s a short trip outside of Bangkok, few would need convincing that it’s worth checking out Thailand’s biggest festival. Held outdoors at Bonanza Ranch, Khao Yai in December, over 50,000 people attend each year. The festival is essentially Thailand’s version of Glastonbury. With a roster of local acts playing across six stages over two days, fans of Thai music camp every year to experience the extravagant stage set ups and the incredible atmosphere that you won’t find anywhere else in the country.

Fat Festival: Held in February across two days with five stages Fat Festival is run by local indie station Fat Radio. It is the largest gathering of independent music in Thailand and is held at Lakeside, Muang Thong Thani on the outskirts of Bangkok after being forced to move from its original location due to the 2011 floods. Now 12 years old, this important fixture on Bangkok’s live music calendar hosts over 150 acts from around the country.

Tiger Translate: The alcohol company supports this series of events, which is held in countries around the world. With Bangkok being home to a Tiger Translate festival for the past two years, it boasts an impressive bill of local and international acts. Held in the car park of The Esplanade shopping mall complex, acts such as The Vaccines, Placebo, New Young Pony Club, and We Are Scientists have all played in the past.

Bangkok Record Stores

Vinyllica Store, 3/F, Fortune Town, MRT: Rama 9
With 40 square meters of space, this record store is easily Bangkok’s biggest record purveyor. Thousands of records are situated across its floorplan, whether that be on tables, floors, in crates, or along the walls. Those looking for a hard earned find are most likely to revel in the search for something among this vast collection. With music from just about any genre you can find, prepare to spend more than just a few hours scrambling through the Vinyllica Store.

Zudrang Ma Records, Sukhumvit soi 51, http://www.zudrangmarecords.com
Home to a collection of retro soul and funk, local vinyl lovers head to this store for its rare Thai folk releases. Zu Rang Ma Records has a great presence amongst the local music scene, not only does the store host its own radio show, but also offers overseas shipping for those ex-pats looking to keep up with Bangkok artists.

Record Hunter, Century Movie Plaza Bld. Basement floor room B6 http://www.recordhunter.net
Situated in the basement of Century Movie Plaza, you can find music from pretty much any genre here. However there is a heavy focus on 1980s rock and 1970s disco within the store’s collection. Opened in the year 2000, Record Hunter prides itself on its rare Thai pressings and other hard to find vinyl (such as the My Fair Lady Original Soundtrack). While the store ships worldwide, for many locals, Record Hunter is home to one of the city’s best vinyl collections. 

Bangkok Bars

Saxophone Pub & Restaurant, 3/8 Victory Monument, Phyathai Road http://www.saxophonepub.com
Given the name you’re probably thinking that this venue restricts itself to the one genre, and up until the past decade you would have been right. But today this establishment is one of Bangkok’s most cherished music venues. Now the place to catch the country’s up and coming bands, it hosts two or three live bands a night. Established acts are also no strangers to the Saxophone Pub, with anything from mainstream rock, to jazz, blues or reggae being played here. The venue is open from 6pm to 1am daily.

Rock Pub, 93/26-28 Hollywood Street Building Phayathai Rat Tevee Other Zone  http://www.therockpub-bangkok.com
As its name suggests this music building provides what they themselves describe as “the best rock ‘n’ roll in town.” They more than live up to their mantra, with Rock Pub providing gigs by some of the country’s most legendary outfits as well as newcomers. Looking much like a dungeon, rock lovers spend a night here experiencing many of the genres variations. While mainstream rock dominates most nights, punters may also get to witness hard rock, heavy metal, garage rock, nu-metal, post-punk and even ska.

Mello Yello, 29/70-72 RCA, Zone S, https://www.facebook.com/melloyellojazz
Formerly the Overtone Music Cave, this venue has undergone a host of changes since its inception. While originally intended as a place for music students and workshops it quickly became the place to catch local performers. Acts from a variety of genres including rock, punk, ska, pop and jazz perform throughout the week. Under its new name, the mini concert hall has increased it’s focus on jazz, however Mello Yello still hosts a diverse amount of bands. Over the weekend the venue is a popular place to catch some great local music.

Bangkok Acts You Should Check Out

Electric Neon Lamp – Soundcloud
While this four-piece indie band started off as your typical high school outfit, they have since worked their way towards a deal with Sony Music Thailand. Sounding very much like the Thai version of early Bloc Party with ample amounts of catchy riffs, Electric Neon Lamp released their debut album, Bright Side, in 2009, while the future for this young band looks very promising.


Yellow Fang – Soundcloud
This garage rock trio play the sort of dreamy and slightly psychedelic brand of music that induces a sense of clam upon it’s listeners. With sweet female vocals harmonising, Yellow Fang have won audiences across Thailand. Fat Radio named their debut single ‘Unreal’ as their second best song of 2012, listen to the band’s latest track ‘Hom Pa’ below.

Kor Notapol Srichomkwan – Soundcloud
Bassist for the band Groove Rider, this side project delves into the singer’s love of vintage pop. With horns and strings accompanying his debut single ‘Prove Me Wrong’, the musician makes a solid first impression. Well produced, easy listening, and also catchy, it’s hard not to admire the man’s ability to bring something vintage back to the fore.

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