Indie, rock, or Turkish Rock—no matter what your jam is, if you’re in Istanbul, you’ll find more tunes than just those from the Blue Mosque. The city’s rhythm is imbibed in a few of its best spots to catch live music by both international and local talents. Here’s how you can navigate your way through Istanbul by following the tunes. By Shubhanjana Das
The harbinger of Depeche Mode, Wild Beasts, and Mulatu Astatke in the city, Babylon’s arrival in the city marked its first black box music venue. There are times when the crowd sits on floor to revere the best Turkish instrumentalists, and there are times when it’s hard to even set foot in the club—Babylon’s ambience is diverse, much like the produce it brings to the city.
2. Süreyya Opera House (Süreyya Operası)
For the ballet-loving crowd, Süreyya Operası’s European aura going back to 1927 when it was founded is a must visit. The foyer leads to where classical music and ballets are staged. The place is definitely one of the most important venues for celebrating classical music and its significance in the local music scene.
Ask any jazz lover about the best jazz club in Istanbul and they will invariably take you to Nardis. On a street by the Galata Tower, this jazz club has been bringing exceptional jazz artists from both around the city and the world. Its no-nonsense vibe is in tune with the interiors with an unassuming dimly-lit bar and a few wooden tables and chairs. The only spotlight Nardis Jazz Club enjoys is the music.
If you want to explore local bands and Turkish experimental rock, Peyote could be your pick. Newly-launched bands perform here regularly as Peyote has a five-gigs-a-week schedule. If you don’t like what’s playing, you could always go to the terrace bar, where DJs are on duty of entertaining the guests.
Mecca for dubstep lovers, Dogstarz makes it hard for you to leave Istanbul and its fascinating music scene. Converging the space for clubbing peeps as well as those who reverse dubstep, Dogstarz play host to local bands and DJs, while also offering insight on city’s diverse musical practices. If you like the idea of watching the sunrise over the gardens of Galatasaray Lisesi while you hum to some surf rock, Dogstarz is the place to be.
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If you want a crash course on the local music scene, Hayal Kahvesi has more fathomable and mainstream ways than its contemporaries. You’ll find the up-and-coming Turkish rock, jazz and pop bands on the stage performing to a mostly-young crowd. If you want to acquaint yourself to Turkish-style rock, this should be a great starting point.