Berlin is known for being one of the most vibrant and artistically diverse cities in the world, and its live music scene is no exception. Although often overshadowed by its legendary electronic and techno scene, the German capital has a lot more to offer when it comes to live music. From hip-hop and jazz to classic and punk, there is something for everyone in Berlin, whatever your genre of choice or your budget.
This diversity is due primarily to Berlin’s open-minded attitude towards the creative arts, which has attracted artists from all walks of life to find sanctuary and support for their work in the city. When it comes to music, in particular, Berlin has served as a refuge for some of the most famous names in the industry, most notably David Bowie and Iggy Pop. The former’s contribution to the city’s music culture is even commemorated with a plaque on the building of his old apartment—such is Berlin’s respect towards the artists that have graced the city with their musical talents.
This welcoming and supportive attitude towards the arts has laid the foundations for a rich and multifaceted music scene to grow, which is reflected in the quantity and variety of venues around town. Venturing out for a night of music can lead you to buildings of former GDR grandeur, intimate basements, dilapidated ballrooms, and even disused sporting arenas.
As part of our City Experiences roundup with American Express, Highsnobiety’s Music Editor Jake Boyer, who is based in the Berlin office, gave us a rundown of the best venues. Popular gigs sell out fast, so make sure to keep an eye on listings and book tickets in advance if you don’t want to miss out.
“One of several clubs occupying a complex of venues on the banks of the Spree, Arena effortlessly stands at a cut above its neighbors. This is partly due to its cavernous dual dance floors, though the sequestered outdoor area (featuring a mini backyard amphitheater) provides ample opportunity for a chill-out under the stars.”
“A surreptitious doorway gives way to a warm, welcoming ballroom—one that is equally conducive to a mosh-heavy rap show as it is an evening of calm, meditative indie-pop. There is, of course, a plethora of the venue’s namesake beer on hand at the ornate bar that greets you first.”
“This legendary building has, no exaggeration, some of the best acoustics of any concert venue in the world. Funkhaus was home to the GDR’s official broadcast network until German reunification in the 1990s, and its astonishing interiors reflect the highly precise physical stipulations of a truly soundproof space.”
“Those that find themselves continually denied by the strictest door policy in the world can still find a way to peep inside via Berghain’s designated concert venue. The Kantine offers a glimpse into a part of the halls that not even ravers see, while its enormous main foyer is surprisingly adaptable to events as off-brand as a Kylie Minogue show.”
“Tucked away on one of Neukölln’s busiest streets, Heimathafen, as its name indicates, still manages to achieve a sense of home, no matter who’s playing. Think art-deco hotel vibes, with a bountiful selection of gigs that represent today’s multifaceted music scene better than most.”
“Named for a famous boxer, the Max-Schmeling-Halle is one of Berlin’s biggest indoor sporting arenas, and you can certainly tell. The 12,000 capacity seater sits at the heart of Mauerpark in the Prenzlauer Berg District, an ideal spot to hit surrounding the park’s infamous Sunday flea market.”
“Cinephiles may recognize the Tempodrom from Wim Wenders’ ’80s classic Wings of Desire, one of many Berlin landmarks featured in the cinematic love letter to the city. Though it may not be as much of a circus tent any more, the stunning architecture of the space and unorthodox layout still provides just as much of a thrill as it did in its heyday.”
Highsnobiety’s global team has gathered together the best City Experiences from London, Berlin, and New York. Click here to explore more.
- Location Selection: Jake Boyer