Walk down Buenos Aires’s central shopping street, Avenida Florida, and you’d be forgiven for presuming that Argentine music tastes encompass just one genre: tango. But as The Gotan Project, Carlos Gardel and other such tourist-friendly wonders blare out of speakers of the music stores, don’t let yourself be fooled: tango dinner shows and milongas (tango dance halls) are far from your only live music options.
So where should you be heading to catch the city’s hottest bands? Here’s a rundown offering something for all tastes.
One of the most atmospheric places in town has to be San Telmo’s mid-sized La Trastienda (capacity 1,400). Past guests in this converted corner grocery have included funk legend George Clinton, Brighton indie kids, The Kooks, Argentinian-American songwriter Kevin Johansen and, flying the white-and-celeste flag for Rock Nacional, local heroes Divididos.
The 8,000-capacity Luna Park, built on the site of the former amusement park of the same name, is another iconic venue, not least for being the place where Eva “Evita” Duarte and Juan Perón first met. The sound quality is notoriously bad, but that hasn’t stopped it building an illustrious hall of fame that includes Frank Sinatra, Manu Chao, and, recently, the Pixies for what was their first-ever gig in Argentina.
For something more intimate, try Salon Pueyrredon for punk, El Teatro for metal, Studio Crobar for electro, Notorious for jazz and Makena for allsorts. San Telmo’s Samsung Studio has a nice underground feel, but it’s somewhat tainted by the in-your-face corporate sponsoring and being asked “what smart phone do you have?” when you click on the site listings.
When the megastars come to town (Madonna, Metallica, Oasis), the River Plate stadium is usually where they head. However, its future as a music venue could be in jeopardy, as the vibrations from thousands of jumping Argentines is, apparently, disturbing the neighbours.
For something more unique to Argentina, don’t miss visiting a peña – small-scale folk clubs that showcase music from Argentina’s north. They are typically down to earth places that also do a fine line in empanadas. Try El Empujón del Diablo or Los Cardones.
Orquesta Tipica Fernandez Fierro performing live – Photograph by Beatrice Murch
As for the tango, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t go home without experiencing a bit of real Argentina culture. To go where the tour groups don’t, try Almagro’s Bar de Roberto or catch the electro-tango orchestra, Fernandez Fierro who usually play every week in summer.
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