After years taking a backseat to traditional Fado and big festivals, Lisbon’s once-thriving local indie-alternative music scene has seen a resurgence driven by a new generation of homegrown and transplanted artists, concertgoers and musical influences.
Graça is a gritty, alternative neighborhood set atop the hill on the northeastern end of the city that’s become a favorite of Lisbon’s hipster scene thanks to a handful of unique venues.
Damas is a hipster institution located on the main drag on the way up the hill from Alfama. Most nights, you’ll find experimental electronic, techno and Jazz, but they also mix in nights dedicated to the Afro musical traditions and influences of Portugal’s former colonies, such as Mozambique, Angola and Cabo Verde.
On the other end of the spectrum, Disgraça is the heart of Lisbon’s small, but resilient DIY punk scene. The warehouse turned cooperative squat/community center/venue hosts weekly shows featuring local and sometimes international punk rock, hardcore and crust bands. It also has weekly vegan dinners, an anarchist book shop and other events.
For a more relaxed environment, Camones Bar is a quaint hippy-ish venue that focuses on local singer-songwriters and world music acts.
Since becoming Lisbon’s unofficial artists neighborhood, Anjos has lost more than a few independent establishments to its ongoing battle with gentrification, but still boasts some of Lisbon’s most important venues.
The eclectic Crew Hassan and Casa Independente are the go-to local venues for all types of music – indie-folk, indie-pop, Afrobeat, hip hop, experimental electronic, funk. Crew Hassan is also a destination for late-night afterparties with local DJ’s spinning various funky beats, and Casa Independente hosts a variety of social and cultural events, including lectures and art exhibitions.
Bairro Alto and Pink Street
Hidden among the throngs of tourist bars and restaurants in Lisbon’s famous nightlife districts lie a few buzzing indie institutions.
On Pink Street, mainstream nightlife meets alternative at Music Box. It hosts a mix of local and international artists playing house, techno, Latin-infused electronic, indie-folk, psychedelic and more, with the party stretching well into the morning hours.
Nearby Sabotage and Incognito up the road in Bairro Alto carry on the retro indie tradition. Along with contemporary local and international bands like The Vacant Lots (US), the Coathanger (US) and Dead Club (PT) carrying on the classic punk, post-punk, new wave and garage/noise legacies of the 80’s, Sabotage also brings in legends like the Lydia Lunch and The Zeros. Incognito, meanwhile, is affectionately known for its dedication to playing synthpop and new wave like the 80’s never ended.
If you know of any other venues that we should add to our list – or other indie aspects of Lisbon we’ve missed – please get in touch in the comments or via our social channels.
Would you like to tell us about the independent scene in your town? We’d love to hear from you!
Article by Spencer Ho, Verena Bachinger. Verena Bachinger is a musical artist based in Lisbon and playing under the name of Cafe Ena. Read the indieRepublik review of the latest Cafe Ena single here.