5 of Malta’s Best Bars for Live Music
Malta’s central area is rife with live music spots showcasing local talent. You can take one lap around Valletta and run into at least eight different live performances, whether it’s at a restaurant in the heart of the city or a tiny bar around the corner. But, for those who are looking for something more than another singer with a speaker playing an instrumental version of a Lewis Capaldi song, it takes a bit of research. Having said that, here are 5 Maltese bars with authentic live music.
Hole In The Wall
First up is Hole In The Wall, a snug little café-bar just upwards of St. Anne Square in Tower Road. As of last year, the Hole in the Wall pub is a century old, making it one of the oldest (if not the oldest) bars in Sliema. Nowadays, the bar has adopted a very artsy anti-commercialist code, drawing in an alternative crowd with their no-advertising policy and various art/cultural events. As a matter of fact, the staff members are all part of the art and indie-music scene, and that’s how you know they pick just the right artists! Hole In The Wall famously hosts live music nights, where local and international artists alike perform on a beautifully-lit elevated stage. The next performances to look out for are BROKIES on 25 September, then Kym Pepe feat. Mark Axiak on 4 October.
Storeroom in Ta’ Xbiex shares the same sense of authenticity, but unlike Hole In The Wall, it’s actually a relatively new building. The former boat garage opened in 2019 after being reconstructed through crowd-funding. It then quickly became a quintessential live music spot known for its unique structure and quality acoustics. Anyone who goes there goes for the music specifically – it’s the centrepiece rather than an accessory. The bar has two floors and a small stage as the focal point, hosting multiple music acts throughout the week from a broad spectrum of genres; Today, a DJ (DJ Bob) will be taking the stage, while tomorrow it’ll once again be local band BROKIES, as Saturdays are dedicated to platforming underground musicians. You can keep up to date with their upcoming events on their Facebook page. However, the bar does have limited seating and typically charges a low fee, so if there’s a band you really want to see, make sure to reserve a table.
The Thirsty Barber
The Thirsty Barber in St Julians is known for its innovative aesthetic, which draws inspiration from the Prohibition era of the 1920’s. The Prohibition was a nationwide ban on the distribution and import of alcoholic drinks in America during the Roaring 20’s, a period when people partied and drank like their lives depended on it. As a result, secret illegal bars with passwords called speakeasies popped up all over the country. The Thirsty Barber was created with the goal of reviving that sense of mischief and partying like it’s your last day. The bar has a unique entrance which gives the illusion of a regular barber shop, but if you enter the British red telephone box next to the door you’ll find a lavish speakeasy on the other side. This unique concept is complemented with inventive Prohibition era, as well as modern cocktails. Their live music performances are relatively frequent, typically on Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays. Tonight you can catch the band OUTBOUND at 9pm, then solo act Klinsmann at the same time tomorrow! To keep up to date with their next artists make sure to follow their Facebook page.
If you’re into the more hardcore genres, I cannot recommend The Garage in Żebbuġ enough. This bar hosts various alternative, rock and metal acts, with frequent festivals and concerts to look forward to. Tomorrow is the second edition of the SoundArt Festival, an experimental music event where local bands Krishna and A Black White Satellite will take the stage, along with German acts Grande Fox and Deus Culpa. Tickets are priced at €12 and will be sold for €15 at the door. While Żebbuġ may be out of the way for some people, Maltese metalheads swear by The Garage. Besides, it’s always great to have bar options in the South that aren’t the local Każin.
La Bottega is not only one of Valletta’s best happy hour spots, but it also brings life to Merchant Street with its broad spectrum of live music performances. Whether there’s a rock band or a DJ, you’ll pretty much always find a crowd surrounding the bar as soon as the sun sets. The Marmalades, Memphis Mac and Strictly Commercial are just a few of the local rock bands that recently played at La Bottega. They even had the American sensation Wildhoney perform last July. This is probably the best bar in this list if you’re someone who likes dancing. And if you’re not into that or just shy then their delicious cocktails might just give you the push you need!
Finally, Casey’s bar in Gżira is an honourable mention. Their drinks were cheap and they had no cover charge for any event, which created such a comfortable atmosphere. The bar regularly hosted such events as open mics for music, poetry, and comedy, as well as live performances by established artists. Not to mention, the fun karaoke twice a week. Sadly, Casey’s bar closed down last year in August. This serves as a reminder to tip these businesses as well as the artists they enlist to perform. At least now the next time your friends want to go out for a drink you’ll know exactly where to go.