Spotify is all grand and mp3s on your iPhone are essential for a morning jog, it’s true. But nothing can beat being there and hearing it all live! And guess what? Stockholm is the place to get your live music fix – completely free of charge.
We’ll start off with the tried-and-true. Any music fan in Stockholm knows Debaser. Both Debaser Medis at Medborgarplatsen and Debaser Strand at Hornstulls Strand offer some of the best and most interesting live acts in town. A large part of their gigs have free entrance if you come early (before 9 or 10 pm). This obviously doesn’t include international acts or the biggest Swedish names, but lots of great artists are on offer every week and you may discover a new gem! Check the latest listings here.
The hotel bar at this Scandic Hotel situated on Medborgarplatsen offers live music, clubs and DJs several days a week, and the entrance is always free. But it’s a hot one, so expect a crowd! More information on what is on and when can be found here.
You may also like to keep an eye on what Scandic Grand Central has to offer, since they also have live music at their Grand Acoustic Bar as well as other clubs and showcases.
The Pet Sounds record store on Södermalm’s Skånegatan has a reputation as one of the best record stores in the world, and their bar on the opposite side of the street offers live music, clubs, DJs and Open Mic nights in their murky cellar.
It’s an international hotspot and you’ll hear accents – and music – from across the globe.
The record store itself also sometimes hosts artist showcases, definitely not to be missed. Latest events can be found here.
Akkurat is a bar on Hornsgatan that offers free live music on Sunday evenings. The emphasis is on bands playing rhythm’n’blues, rockabilly, country, and similar genres with loads of raw live energy. Memorable personal highlights in the past have included Jasmine Kara and Cookies’n’Beans. Check out their listings here, or if you like your rock a bit harder and heavier, try Pub Anchor instead.
Obaren is like a secret little backroom of the Sturehof restaurant at Stureplan, with a totally different vibe and audience. This place offers intimate concerts and DJ sets and quite often also records company showcases. Even the likes of Chris Cornell, Juanes and Glasvegas have played on the tiny stage. So keep your eye out on their Facebook page so you don’t miss the next secret show!
100 Songs is a record company with a fresh approach to music releases: they concentrate on releasing singles from mostly up’n’coming artists in digital format. They started out a year ago with Miriam Bryant, who went on to become one of the brightest breakthrough artists of 2013 in Sweden and is now gaining international fans.
To complement the 100 Songs releases, they also have monthly live artist showcases under the name of 100 Live. These are usually held at Södra Teatern’s Etablissemanget and truly give you the chance to see fresh new talent. Artists seen on stage have included Ace Wilder and Manda, who were both seen Melodifestivalen 2014. Follow 100 Songs on Facebook to get event information about 100 Live.
WiMP is a music streaming service much like Spotify. They arrange their own live sessions with fresh new artists at Story Hotel’s bar. These sessions are also recorded and offered on their streaming service. The sessions usually offer one or two artists playing a few songs each. Highlights so far have included Miriam Bryant, Linda Sundblad and Nicole Sabouné. Events are listed here.
This is such a gem of a place that I feel slightly worried about giving this tip away, since it is always first come, first served for these gigs. This is simply public service radio at its best – P4 Stockholm broadcasts live concerts on Fridays at lunch time (12:30 to be more precise) and there is place for an audience of around 150 people in Studio 4 of the Radio House (where Jimi Hendrix and many other legends have played). The intimate concerts here only last half an hour, but the audience may be treated to an exclusive encore after the broadcast is over.
And as a rule the artists hang around afterwards for autographs or exchanging a few words with the fans. The artists featured have ranged from Laleh and First Aid Kit to Jill Johnson and Darin.
The bigger the name the earlier you need to come, as the lines start forming one or even two hours before with the most popular artists. Check the concert calendar often, since the bookings are often made relatively late to keep the musical offerings up to date.
Images: Nina Uddin