There are hundreds of live music venues in Seoul. These are just a drop in the bucket, but include some of my favorite spots that I’ve frequented or performed at during my six years in Seoul. They all happen to be in the Hongdae area—the live club capital of Seoul. They also all happen to be in basements. When I first came here I was just visiting, but I loved it so much I decided to stay; one of the main reasons was the vibrant indie music scene.
A clean, sleek, modern venue with great sound and lighting. One of the better sound systems in Hongdae. This is the place to go when you want to put your focus on nothing but the band performing. No bar, no standing, no chatter, no nonsense. If you’re looking for a high octane rock show, maybe go elsewhere.
There’s no stage so bands here are at eye level and extremely close up. This is also a good spot if you’re looking for a dive bar atmosphere. Lots of local musicians hang out here. Cheap whiskey shots and beer on tap is always a plus. I’ve seen almost every genre of music represented at this club. Maybe not glam metal. Wait—I take that back.
The living room atmosphere here makes this the place to go for a small, intimate show. It’s perfect for singer-songwriters. There are six or seven tables in this basement venue with a clearing above the stage which opens up to a bird’s-eye view of the first floor bar/cafe and patrons. Order a cup of coffee, glass of wine, bottle of whiskey, whatever you fancy, in this cozy nook.
If you had only one night in Seoul I would send you to this pub. Despite its name—which basically means “intestine casserole”—it’s not a restaurant. It’s technically not a live club either, although there are performances from time to time. The walls are lined with vintage speakers and LPs. Old classic Korean music is what they spin in the bar’s dark, speakeasy vibe. You definitely wouldn’t find this joint unless someone had tipped you off to its whereabouts.
If you’re looking for a Korean rock or punk rock show, try and see it here. It will be gritty, grimy, dark, and have no frills. The name itself might give you a hint at what the space is trying to emulate. Stay near the back to avoid any spur of the moment moshing or stage dives.