Life, we know, is tough and expensive, certainly in Tel Aviv, a city whose photograph accompanies the dictionary definition for “illegaly split apartment.” But you know as well as I do what’s keeping us here: culture, and plenty of it. When the wallet is pressing and the soul is thirsty for good music, the pubs and the clubs come into play. If you’ve decided to leave the house and pay an exorbitant price for a beer, it’s good to know that there are places that cater to the musical aspect of the experience, and and introduce bar-goers to high-quality artists.
The eternal Hoodna on the edge of the Florentin neighborhood is a bar that’s propelled by a sincere love of music and community. Many of us have made our way from the bar to the tables scattered everywhere, going back and forth, head spinning, face smiling, often until the time of day when sunglasses are needed again. Hoonda likes to give a free platform to all musical genres and stage arts: acoustic performances, shows by bands, orchestras (the excellent Hoodna Orchestra, which came together and developed in the bar), talks, standup comics, deejays and more.
Where: 13 Abarbanel Street
Coming attractions: Hoodna Afrobite Orchestra, September 22; and the Jerusalem surf rock band Les Dynamites, October 18.
The Radio, king of sleaze, prince of Tinder and the immortal restroom can and should also be caught in a different mood and with alert ears. The dark cellar hosts terrific shows on a weekly basis, all of them free of charge. We won’t forget to mention great deejays and the eighties party of Electric Dreams, and to say that on the live evenings you can get really close to your next musical crush.
Where: 7 Shadal Street
Coming attractions: Every two weeks, on Sundays, there’s a hip hop and R&B jam session that hosts top rappers and singers; Re’em Bakal, an R&B singer who integrates Mediterranean elements, September 16; indie soul by the splendid MONC (Men of North Country) band, September 23.
The reincarnation of Rothschild 12 is one of the city’s most eclectic places. What’s impressive, for example, is the possibility of obtaining a fine dining experience in Disco Tokyo along with a wild show of The White Screen in one evening. Indeed, the establishment attracts crowds of different types, and there seems to be room for all. In addition to deejay work, there are free live shows.
Where: 16 Herzl Street
Coming attractions: Xen with dark synths and the deejay Gabriel Broid.
Kuli Alma, whose status has been stable for some time, succeeds in cultivating changes in eye and ear that generate a smart dynamic. In a city where a business stands one chance in a million, Kuli Alma has come up with a young and refreshing formula, and the crowds flock to the happy tropical atmosphere. Riveting exhibitions rotate frequently in the gallery, and the changing spaces call out to visitors to lose their way. It’s also worth noting the “unnecessary standup comedy” on Monday evenings, which offer a platform for both experienced and young comics (sometimes too young to be in the bar, but they’re worth it). Drag nights take place every other Saturday.
Where: 10 Mikve Yisrael
Coming attractions: The young and intriguing Keren Ilan, ahead of her first IP, September 3; Ben Ayalon, with guests in an African beat, September 24.
There’s really no need to elaborate about Teder, and we’re not getting paid by the word, but the upstart place, which started as a nonbinding popup bar, remained in place, summer after summer, and afterward for all the seasons of the year. Teder hosts one-time appearances, album launches and concept evenings. In time, more and more spaces are cropping up in the complex (the new Rafi spot on the ground floor threatens to become a permanent partying hangout), and they’re all constantly buzzing. The music is excellent, the shows are surprising, the walls shimmer and the pizza will save you from that extra shot.
Where: 9 Derech Yaffo
Coming attractions: Africa special in the Jazz Is Cool framework with three original productions: of Omer Avital, Liquid Saloon and Tomer Yechieli, September 7; Teder Carnival, with foreign performers (such as Mim Suleiman), deejays and an original production to reprise the album “Eretz Tropit Yaffa” (Beautiful Tropical Land), September 30.
The shows at Levontin 7 (in the regular cellar space), at least two per evening, aren’t usually free. But totally free shows occasionally take place in the upper bar, inviting the audience to get acquainted with new and less new artists, with no obligation. In other words, you can peek in from the area of the door (and leave politely if you don’t like what you see and hear) or enter and sit at the bar. The early shows in the upper bar (around 9:30 P.M., between the shows downstairs) are another advantage.
Where: 7 Levontin Street
Coming attractions: Stadium Noise Night, September 3; Dark Manners / A Night of Banshees and Ladies, September 6; The Underground Youth, October 6.
Another line of “free shows at the bar” has been offered by OzenBar since last May, with the aim of creating an intimate format. The performances take place once a week around the bar, in a space that can accommodate up to 40 people and allows a connection to be made between intimacy and rock and roll. Entry is free, but anyone who wishes is more than welcome to drop a few shekels in the hat, all of which goes to the artist at the end of the evening.
Where: 48 King George Street
Coming attractions: Carol Farah, an exceptional musician from Nazareth, returns to the line for the second time, September 3; Jull & Oriana, fascinating collaboration between a noise artist and a VJ artist, September 10.
A neighborhood bar that succeeds in being both sexy and gentle, October is suitable for a relaxed social gathering or a date. The bar recently celebrated its seventh anniversary with a loyal and supportive community of drinkers. The shows at October are small, intimate and usually acoustic. Sometimes you can catch well-loved mainstream artists (Dan Toren, Noam Rotem, Tami Rodner) in their stripped-down version. Fine opportunity for a one-night earful that leaves room for falling in love.
Where: 60 Ahad Ha’am
Coming attractions: Nothing on tap yet, but the October people are working on it
Beit Ariela (the bar)
The bar at Beit Ariela (not to be confused with the library of the same name) is a place not to be missed. It’s a mecca for the LGTBQ community but definitely not only. Parties, film screenings, lectures, encounters and uplifting haflot (Arab-style parties) are all part of the regular schedule, but standard drinks at the dim-happy bar are also a winner on any given evening. A line of free Friday evening performances will be launched again in September – minimalist acoustic (or electric) performances to open the weekend properly.
Where: 2 Harakevet Street
Full disclosure: This writer will also appear, with the bassist Shlomi Mantsur, on September 4. All are invited!