Contemporary & emerging music

21 April 2022


Public in a concert hall

For music lovers in general

The words 'concert hall' and 'Brussels' immediately bring to mind Ancienne Belgique, known as AB for short. This legendary temple of music in the heart of Brussels is a major player on the international scene. For years it has also been the go-to venue for occasional and seasoned concertgoers alike. AB is known far and wide for its excellent acoustics, service provision and programming. No musical trend goes unnoticed here.

Audience and stage at a concert in Ancienne Belgique

Botanique is also an integral part of the Belgian concert scene. In 1984 this cultural centre took up residence in the former greenhouses of the beautiful Botanical Gardens. With an average of three hundred concerts and ten exhibitions a year, there is always something going on. And here too the programme features lots of up-and-coming talents who will soon be hitting up the festival scene. Les Nuits is always a hit. This annual music festival perfectly captures what Botanique stands for.

Public outside Botanique

Cirque Royal and La Madeleine are event venues that also regularly welcome musical guests. They are within walking distance of Brussels’ Central Station, near the Royal district. In addition to circus and stand-up comedy, the programme also features big names of French pop and rap, international singer-songwriters and other celebrities.

Concert halls may burst at the seams when successful bands suddenly become larger than life. Fortunately, Brussels has some massive venues that are perfectly equipped to handle mega-productions. The best examples? Forest National in Forest and Palais 12 on the Heysel Plateau. You’ll have to share the floor with thousands of other music fans, but hey, the more, the merrier, right?

For those in search for something else

Are you into smaller concert venues with a strong identity? Love incubators that are up for challenge and happily experiment? The concert halls listed here are averse to any interference and offer a platform to innovative music artists who often appeal to a niche audience. They are all intimate venues where the synergy between musicians and the audience takes centre stage. Ready for a unique experience? Here we go!

Check out the programme of Les Ateliers Claus. This arts centre in Saint-Gilles is the place to be for performances by experimental and daring bands with a quirky touch.

Another must is Beursschouwburg, a multidisciplinary arts centre located in the historical heart of Brussels. Its programming steers away from monocultures, instead advocating diversity and cross-pollination. This also applies to Atelier 210 in Etterbeek, a multidisciplinary art spacethat gives a voice to those that have a story to tell but cannot find a suitable platform to share it. 

VK Concerts has been a reference for alternative music fans for more than 25 years: it’s a temple of underground music. The concert hall is currently being renovated, but you can still enjoy concerts on the move.

Le BRASS cultural centre in Forest, is another such example. Located in the heart of the former Wielemans-Ceuppens brewery, BRASS organises, among other things, concerts and themed festivals throughout the year. Imbued with Brussels' signature diversity, BRASS supports the emerging artistic and cultural vitality of the city.

Audience and stage at a concert at BRASS

Magasin 4 has been a Mecca for fans of hardcore, metal, ska, experimental and crossover music since 1994. They will soon have to leave their current home, but no need to worry, the City of Brussels knows their importance in the capital and has decided to give them a brand-new venue.

Volta is quite a recent addition to the alternative music scene. They operate out of the buildings of the Studio CityGate temporary project in Anderlecht. It's a place where resident musicians can experiment to the full and get a stage to share their creative endeavours with the public.

Werkplaats Walter is another fairly new hotspot for subculture-loving Brussels. Artists get access to rehearsal spaces and studios enabling them to give free rein to their creativity, which often results in performances that linger long in the memory.

We could go on and on, but in order to avoid a bout of FOMO, we'll conclude with some words of praise for Recyclart, LaVallée and other creative occupations that also treat the audience to unforgettable performances.

For hip-hop lovers

If there's a scene that's been making quite a splash in recent years, it's definitely Brussels hip-hop.  Rappers like Damso, Roméo Elvis, Caballero & JeanJass, Hamza, L’Or du Commun and Zwangere Guy are the stars of the local hip-hop scene. They give it their all in concert halls and at festivals far beyond our borders. Yet it's not easy to pin down the hip-hop hotspots of Brussels. Unless you're into nightlife, that is, because clubs like Bloody Louis, Mirano Brussels and Birdy Brussels are the new go-to places for hip-hop fans. They know exactly how to throw a party.

For bar and pub lovers

Cramming all of Brussels' music venues into a single article is impossible. The list of bars and pubs that programme live music is endless. Madame Moustache, Bonnefooi, Café Central, Café Beguin, KFK Hope and Rock Classic are just a few of the venues to discover. Musicians from all walks of life meet weekly at jam sessions in pubs such as The Crazy Circle, Café Bizon, Delirium, Lava and Chat-Pitre. Did you know that Brussels even has a semi-annual festival of pub concerts? Stoemp! is the ideal occasion to discover young musical talents in Brussels’ bubbling underbelly.