A visit to Tel Aviv provides an opportunity to sample the local music talent up close, especially the indie artists who don't get too much exposure abroad. Every night you can hear excellent alternative music in clubs throughout the city.
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Ozen Bar, the live music club of the music-and-movie complex The Third Ear (48 King George St., Tel. 03-621-5210), hosts nightly wild parties, musical performances and screenings of indie films. The small, dark club with red brick walls boasts a bar, a small stage and tiny screening rooms. You can hear live performances of pop, funk, hip-hop and various flavors of rock – even sometimes by more established local artists and talents from abroad. Ticket prices are generally reasonable, around NIS 50.
The space is also used for album launch parties and lectures on music (usually in Hebrew). Plan to arrive hungry: The lively Ozen Bar Cafe downstairs serves up sandwiches, grilled and otherwise, as well as alcohol, all reasonably priced. Despite the place's landmark status among tourists, Ozen Bar's website is only in Hebrew, so it's best to go in person or call to check on upcoming performances.
Another place offering alcohol and performances by interesting indie artists is Levontin 7 (7 Levontin St., in the Gan Hahashmal area, Tel. 03-560-5084), which in July celebrates its seventh birthday. There are two main areas: the street-level bar, open from 7:30 P.M., and the downstairs performance space, where there are two performances followed by parties with alternative music.
Levontin 7 also has an eponymous music label and it promotes local alternative artists and works in cooperation with the avant-garde New York label Hopscotch Records. Here, too, it's fine to come hungry, as the bar serves food from the hummus restaurant next door, which boasts an all-vegan menu. That means you can forget about having a hard-boiled egg with your hummus, and the malabi (a not overly sweet Arab dessert, otherwise known as muhalabiya) is made with soy milk. The food is cheap, tasty and highly ethical to boot. Levontin 7's website is all-Hebrew, so you're better off checking out the Facebook page (www.facebook.com/levontin7) or shooting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hangar 22 at the Tel Aviv Port operates as the incubator for Acum (the Association of Composers, Authors and Publishers of Music in Israel), which protects and manages copyrights for its members. The place, called Beit Hayotzer, was founded as a performance space for local musicians, and also offers them studio space and marketing services -- all for free. There are live performances, poetry evenings and master classes, all in an intimate space that seats 150 and with a view of waves crashing on the seawall.
All the revenues go directly to the artists, some of them successful and others true-blue alternative musicians or those just starting out and needing a place to perform. The place is open seven days a week, with live music on most nights. Tickets can be purchased by credit card at tixwise.co.il/he/beithayozer, whose performance schedule is updated daily, or at 03-611-3577. At Hangar 22 there's a bar and a cafe operated by Speedo of swimsuit fame. Information on all events is available at www.facebook.com/acumallmusic.
Barby is about as far as you can get from that doll with the same-sounding name and the impossible measurements; instead it's a haven for music-lovers. Located in a gritty part of south Tel Aviv (52 Kibbutz Galuyot St.), Barby is the largest live music club in the city.
A wide range of international artists have performed here, from alternative groups and electro-pop artists to metal, hip-hop and reggae musicians, and the list of locals who began their careers here is long. Barby also has its own label, with albums by well-regarded Israeli artists. Unlike the above-mentioned venues, Barby's website provides information in English on performances (http://www.barby.co.il/enternationals.php). For tickets and additional information, call 03-518-8123.