Stephanie Mee goes in search of live music and finds nirvana in a plethora of places.
DEUS TEMPLE OF ENTHUSIASM
You would think that Sunday would be a good day to wind down, especially in a laid-back locale like the Gu, but over at the Temple of Enthusiasm it’s a whole different story. Sunday Sessions at Deus are all about getting down to live beats and jams with cold beers in hand amidst an eclectic crew of surf guys and gals, local luminaries and world wanderers from every corner of the globe. Good thing the space is big and breezy, because come 8pm the crowds start packing it in.
Located in the middle of rice fields just a short drive from Echo Beach, Deus is so much more than just a sick bar and restaurant with kickass Sunday sessions. They’ve also got workshops on site where they create custom motorcycles and surfboards, a sweet shop where they sell said motorcycles and surfboards along with cool threads and bicycles, an art gallery showcasing local and international artists, and a retro style barbershop that attracts many a bloke of the bearded type.
Much like their clientele, the food at Deus is a mash-up of global influences. Swing by in the morning and you can grab a California Breakfast Burrito, Chia Pudding or some energy balls along with your Deus Cold Drip Coffee. Throughout the day and into the evening the menu shifts to heartier fare like the Chorizo and Octopus Salad, Aussie Beef Tenderloin, or pizzas, paninis and burgers. For drinks, fresh juices and Bintangs are the norm, but they also have custom cocktails like the Lychee and Lemongrass Martini and their famous Bloody Deus.
Come Sunday Deus’ live music sessions are definitely the place to be to catch some of Bali’s best bands, rockers from abroad and up-and-coming DJs. However, they also have tons of other events going on like Girls Night at the Temple on Thursdays when ladies drink for free between 8pm and 9pm, Wednesday Night at the Cinema when they play classic and cult flicks, and random parties celebrating everything from motocross events to surf comps and art exhibitions.
RYOSHI HOUSE OF JAZZ
Smooth saxophones, soulful blues and… sushi? It may not be the most conventional combination, but in Bali there really only is one place where you can hear live jazz on a regular basis, and that place is Ryoshi House of Jazz, which is also the flagship restaurant of Bali’s most popular sushi chain. Head to this Seminyak stalwart every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening and you’ll be treated to local and visiting talent throwing down everything from funk to African fusion, ska and soul.
When Sagon Togasa came to Bali on holiday in 1984, he had no idea that the island would one day become his home and he the owner of a Japanese restaurant empire that would spread all over Bali and across to Lombok and Java. He opened the first Ryoshi on Jalan Raya Seminyak in 1993, and almost immediately people were flocking here for his authentic Japanese cuisine like sushi, tempura, and kushiyaki. Sagon had always had a passion for music, so he started up live jazz nights and they instantly took off as well.
Over the years some of Indonesia’s best musicians have graced the Ryoshi stage, and many return time after time to perform for packed houses again including Balawan, the Rio Sidik Quintet, Sandy Winarta and the Circle Band. They also have international guest musicians pop up on a regular basis like Afronesia and Jim Larkin, as well as cool East-meets-West ensembles like El Sambal who play a mix of Brazilian dance, samba, and jazz fusion.
If you’re planning on getting into the groove at Ryoshi House of Jazz, we suggest heading out early to grab some dinner and snag a spot before all the good tables are taken. In fact, reservations are highly recommended if you want to be right up there close to the band. Once you’re sated with sushi, settle back with some sake or a glass of wine and let the good grooves roll on.
Top points go to Single Fin for their spectacular location perched on a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean and the famous Uluwatu surf break. Their huge wooden balcony is the perfect spot to grab some cold ones and watch the sunset as bands and DJs jam in the background. As the skies darken and the stars start to come out, the bands and DJs pick up the pace and the crowds start moving and mingling. Ocean breezes? Check. Big fat beats? Check.
Beautiful people getting down in a beautiful spot? Check and check.
Single Fin started out as a humble surfer hangout brought to life by professional Balinese surfer Made Kasim and long-time Bali visitor Tai Graham. Their goal was to create a spot that was worthy of the iconic wave it overlooks, and it wasn’t long before word got out about this laid-back locale with stellar views, service and food. Now Single Fin is at the top of pretty much every Bali must-visit list for surfers and socialites alike.
Open from 10am to 10pm daily (except on Wednesdays and Sundays when they rock on until midnight and 1am respectively), Single Fin has different vibes going on depending on what time you visit. During the day it’s all about sipping fresh juices and Revolver Coffee, snacking on salads and tacos, and watching surfers carve up perfect waves. Come late afternoon a steady stream of people start to trickle in, and by sunset the tables along the balcony are filled with folks throwing back Bintangs and digging into pizzas and pastas.
By far the busiest nights at Single Fin are Wednesdays and Sundays when their acoustic jams go off. Best to get there early if you want to rock out Single Fin style, as the entire balcony fills up pretty fast and tables can be few and far between. For those who have the foresight to plan ahead, you can reserve tables on their website or by phoning it in. Keep in mind though that on Sundays they only book booths.
THE ORCHARD BAR & RESTAURANT
With super friendly staff, great English pub grub, and live music sessions several nights a week, it’s easy to see why The Orchard is becoming a firm favourite. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights you can catch innovative musicians who kill it on the covers and also write and perform their own material, Many of the musicians you see on stage here have either already put out their own albums or are working towards that goal.
The atmosphere at The Orchard is much like a neighbourhood pub with lots of brickwork, blackboards proclaiming the specials, and long wooden tables that encourage conversation and camaraderie. The bar is stocked with all your usual labelled spirits, and they have San Miguel, Guinness and Kilkenny on tap. Out back there is an open-air garden enclosed by brick walls, which is where the bands set up after dark.
Every live music night is different at The Orchard with Everyday Folk on Tuesdays, Souled Out Thursdays, and the Marmalade Sessions going down on Saturdays. The resident performers are a mixed bag of Indonesian rockers and crooners including Aray Daulay, The Island Souls, Dee Dice and Sandrayati Fay. They also have special guests drop in all the time like Svara Samsara, Devildice, Rio Sidik and the Deep Sea Explorers. If you’re looking for an introduction into the local Balinese and Indonesian music scene, this is a great place to start.
Although better known for its awesome live music nights, The Orchard is also a primo spot to dig into fab comfort food plates and tasty signature creations. In the morning they offer healthy fare like the Melon Bowl with cantaloupe, melon, cucumber and sunflower seeds tossed in cool and creamy yoghurt dressing with mint, and for lunch or dinner you can tuck into dishes like the Bangers & Mash, Chicken Kiev or Fish & Chips. Their Sunday Roast also gets raves reviews.
Located in the heart of Ubud across from Puri Lukisan Museum, BetelNut is a unique two-storey venue that is part noodle and satay bar, part garden courtyard cocktail spot, and an event space for live music and the arts. Every month they host hip happenings like album launches for local Indonesian musicians, film screenings of indie documentaries, comedy shows, poetry slams and more. If a popular performer happens to swing by Ubud, chances are they’ll be featured on the BetelNut roster.
Despite its ample square footage, BetelNut is one of those places that you might miss driving along Ubud’s busy main road, as the building is actually set back from the road behind their shady courtyard dotted with palm trees and surrounded by boutique shops. However, once you find the door and step inside, you’ll find a roomy interior decked out in natural materials like bamboo, huge tree roots, and recycled coconut wood furniture, as well as huge black and white images of Bali circa 1900 adorning the walls.
If you’re dining, we suggest sitting outside at one of the long wooden tables, where you can enjoy Indonesian inspired dishes like the Shredded Chicken and Banana Blossom Salad, Acehnese Seafood Laksa, or Minced Duck Satay while watching the parade of people and processions go by on the street out front. However, if live music is your jam then all the action will be taking place inside on the stage on the ground floor. Seating with stage views is also available on the mezzanine.
BetelNut is a huge supporter of local musicians, so you’ll find plenty of shows with well-known artists from around Indonesia, as well as many up-and-coming stars born and bred in Bali. Past acts have included Rizal, Svara Samsara, and Sandrayati Fay, as well as international guests like Cellomano, Leanna Rachel and The Rhythm Hunters. Be sure to check out BetelNut’s Facebook page to find out when the next shows are going on and which exciting musicians they have lined up.