Culture + Style

The Music of Cape Town: How to Get Inside the City’s Beat

One of the most exquisite cities in the world, the melting pot that is Cape Town, South Africa, represents many things to many people. That includes its thriving, multifaceted music scene, which boasts a variety of styles echoing out of a litany of venues spread across the city.

From charming cafés to energetic clubs and even a cavernous arena, here are some of the best places to take in the city’s eclectic soundtrack (some of which are a short jaunt from the city’s Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge).

The Crypt Jazz Restaurant

Another jazzy Cape Town highlight, The Crypt calls the basement of the historic St. George’s Cathedral home. Built in 1898, it’s considered to be the oldest cathedral in South Africa and has the stone pillars and vaulted ceilings to show for it.

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Jazz lovers should head to The Crypt. (Photo: Courtesy of The Crypt)

Since The Crypt is run by a rabid jazz-enthusiast-slash-musician who cut his musical teeth in his native Amsterdam before decamping to South Africa, it should go without saying that the unique venue proudly boasts a diverse array of artists and styles. Another highlight: its in-house 1923-era baby grand piano.

The Piano Bar

Cape Town is a mecca for jazz (it’s home to the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, one of the world’s biggest of its kind, after all). So it stands to reason the city is packed with a variety of notable venues where you can take in the genre.

Out of the crop, The Piano Bar is a standout: It bills itself as a New York–inspired club with a distinctly African flair. Featuring local musicians from around the region on a nightly basis (complemented by tapas and a spectacular two-for-one happy hour), the venue is known for its penchant for attracting rich talent.

Mama Africa

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Get an authentic experience at Mama Africa. (Photo: Courtesy of Mama Africa)

A uniquely local venue, Mama Africa has been celebrating the city’s cultural heritage for the past two decades.

A jewel of the city’s Long Street, the venue is known for three resident bands who play marimba (the instrument native to Zimbabwe that produces an unmistakable native sound) while revelers munch on regional dishes that range from ostrich to crocodile. With its African decor, Mama Africa amounts to a most authentic local experience.

Cape Town Stadium

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Rock out at the city’s stadium. (Photo: Alamy)

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the city’s clubs and cafés, Cape Town Stadium serves as the city’s massive venue for mega concerts. Built for the 2010 World Cup, the stadium has been a quintessential tour stop for some of the biggest artists in the world.

Rock bands ranging from Red Hot Chili Peppers to Foo Fighters, pop superstars like Rihanna and Justin Bieber, as well as legendary acts such as Lionel Richie and Neil Diamond, have all played their biggest hits at the stadium, which has a whopping capacity of 55,000 spectators.

Asoka

Aside from being a top-tier Asian-influenced eatery (crispy duck and truffle teriyaki beef, anyone?), Asoka is known for a vibrant music scene that ranges in genres. In addition to its well-known Tuesday jazz nights, the Kloof Street venue also showcases a stable of deep house DJs, many of which have long-running residencies. If laid-back vibes are your style, Asoka is your spot.