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Arts & Culture

Exercise Your Ears: 5 Alternative New Orleans Music Clubs

The distinctive mural outside Gasa Gasa on Freret Street. (Courtesy photo)

Turning a corner anywhere in New Orleans, you are likely to hear the sweet sound of music all around you. Follow that sound, and you will no doubt run headfirst into one of the city’s many music clubs. The tried-and-true classics such as Snug Harbor, Maple Leaf and Preservation Hall should not be missed, but if you are seeking something a little more hip, edgy, or are just itching to test out a fun new spot, there are several alternatives. In the last couple years alone, alternative music clubs have begun claiming space across the city.

5 Alternative Music Clubs to Check Out

The BEATnik

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The BEATnik is a new venue on the scene. (Photo: Emily Ramirez Hernandez)

Occupying the space that was formerly the gallery and music venue The Big Top, the BEATnik officially opened its doors the first week of April 2014. Right off the St. Charles streetcar line and abutting Mais Arepas, its front windows are plastered with posters of upcoming shows. The BEATnik is an intimate setting in which to hear live music and sip a drink from the bar while perching on one of the dozen or so chairs set up near the stage. Upcoming shows include Hi Ho Silver Oh on Aug. 31, Will Johnson of Centro-matic on Sept. 8 and White Violet on Sept. 16.

Casa Borrega

Casa Borrega has had its doors open for just over a year now. While it is well known for its Mexican food and the unique aesthetic resulting from the merging minds of husband and wife team Hugo Montero, an artist originally from Mexico City, and Linda Stone, an environmentalist who started the Green Project, it is a wonderful venue to hear some sophisticated music while sipping Mezcal and nibbling on ceviche. Friday nights are Cuban night with Los Caballeros del Son at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday nights feature Yulene Velasquez Band at 7:30 p.m.

Freret Street Publiq House

In addition to catching your ear with its impressive music lineup, Freret Street Publiq House will also catch your eye. The ceiling strung with chandeliers, an old army Jeep acting as the sound booth, and exposed brick walls help set the tone. This is always a fun venue to hear live music and dance along on the large area in front of the stage. Plus, with all of the action going on on Freret Street these days, you can spend your whole night bouncing around just a few blocks. Brass-a-Holics perform every Thursday at 9:30 p.m.

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Gasa Gasa’s exterior features a mural by the street artist MTO. (photo: Emily Ramirez Hernandez)

Gasa Gasa

Down Freret Street from Publiq House is Gasa Gasa, a slightly more recent arrival to the NOLA music club scene. Billed as a “a room accessible to all forms of artistic expression,” its exterior acted as a canvas for the Berlin-based street artist MTO, and its inside is bursting with color, 3-D light installations, and a slight nautical flair. Gasa Gasa looks small on the outside, but it can pack a crowd. Upcoming shows include electronic/indie band Electric Sons on Aug. 30, Debauche Russian Mafia Band on Sept. 13, and Internet sensation Turquoise Jeep on Oct. 2.

Siberia

A name like Siberia might be a bit intimidating, and indeed as a venue with a large amount of punk and heavy metal performances you probably won’t run into your grandma here. But, to soften things up, you can enjoy Slavic comfort food like pierogi while you stretch your musical mind. If that’s too much for you though, there are milder options — Aug. 26 features The New Orleans Bingo! Show and on Saturdays from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. are free happy hour shows with local and regional musicians.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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