Live Music Venues in Rio 2011

By Tony Maiella, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Whether it’s samba, pagode, bossa nova, choro, or rock that you enjoy, Rio has a bit of it all. Anybody who heads to Lapa on a Friday night will see this musical diversity with from all walks of life around the Arcos da Lapa (arches of Lapa). Still, Lapa is just one concentrated hotbed of the amazing live music scene, every neighborhood has something to offer for great shows and venues.

The legendary Lapa venue Circo Voador, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

The legendary Lapa venue Circo Voador completely packed, photo courtesy of Circo Voador.

It’s no surprise that Circo Voador (Flying Circus), a massive venue with one of the most eclectic bills welcoming national and international major label groups, is in Lapa.

Last month the venue’s lineup included The National and Barbarito Torres. “It’s the same as Lapa,” says Nathália Gabriel from Niteroi. “Everybody is mixed together having a good time listening to great music.”

Also in Lapa, we have Clube dos Democráticos, which has been a cultural beacon in the community since 1867. The club is renowned for its undeniable samba and forro bands giving you the chance to practice your moves on a sizable dance floor.

Rio Scenarium located downtown in Centro (on the fring of Lapa), also deserves some attention. In what is an antiquarian-like atmosphere, this club has multiple floors where samba, forro, and mpb (Brazilian pop) echo throughout. Even if you can’t dance samba, it is acceptable to watch and if you play your cards right, you may find a teacher.

For an authentic American-Irish pub experience with great live music, Shenanigan’s in Ipanema is always a solid bet. Here you’ll find Cariocas and expats packing it in to drink pints and sing-a-long to cover songs.

Mike Taylor, managing partner at Shenanigan’s explains: “We have live music every night, starting between 9PM – 10PM.  Our bands play pop rock, classic rock, rhythm & blues, Brazilian rock & mpb, each band has their own sound and drawls a crowd.”

Another positive aspect of the scene in Rio is that there are many venues run by cultural associations. The volume level is a bit lower and show goers listen attentively to the musical performance. SESC in Copacabana is just one of those places with its theater seating and circular stage.

Rio Scenarium, is a venue with an antiquarian-like atmosphere, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News

Rio Scenarium, is a venue with an antiquarian-like atmosphere that hosts some great samba, forro, and mpb acts, photo by Tony Maiella.

Solar de Botafogo in Botafogo is also a cultural space that fuses art, music and film together seamlessly under one roof. Also the Centro Cultural Carioca in Centro has a great nightly line-up and also hosts samba dance classes.

Located in an old mansion in the neighborhood of Laranjeiras, Casa Rosa is a longstanding Carioca favorite. On Sunday afternoons it’s the place to be since you can enjoy delicious feijoada, a friendly crowd, and live samba.

In the words of Roberta Tavares, a professional at National Geographic Brazil, Casa Rosa is, “Pure Rio de Janeiro atmosphere on Sunday afternoons into the night. The open space in the back inspires good vibes, new friendships and the feeling of being at home. It’s like Rio is really embracing you, welcoming you to stay, and inviting you to be a genuine, proud Carioca.”

With this short list, now there is nothing stopping you from enjoying some of the amazing music that Rio is famous for. And this is just a small sample, make sure to check our Rio Nightlife Guide for dialy listings and recommendations. As always, feel free to write to us and mention a venue in Rio that really impressed you.