Six venues to enjoy live music at its best


Six venues to enjoy live music at its best

Pubs, pop-up spaces and old factory halls

Regular concert-goers in Düsseldorf will probably be most familiar with the Merkur Arena, the Mitsubishi Electric and the PSD Bank Dome. They’re great for big events, sure, but what about the smaller venues? Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that there’s plenty of choice here too – whether you’re into guitar bands, hip-hop, electronic music or DJ sets. And not just at special events such as the New Fall Festival. You just need to know where to go, what venues do what music, and which places have the right ambience and acts for your tastes. Here we have featured six of the best Düsseldorf venues for live music. 


The Zentrum für Aktion, Kultur und Kommunikation (zakk) in Düsseldorf’s Flingern district has become synonymous with live music. And as well as music, this former factory on Fichtenstrasse offers an eclectic programme that ranges from poetry slams and hip-hop workshops to political debates. But gigs are where the zakk really comes into its own. You can expect to see the kinds of bands here that feature in the music magazines, from German-speaking acts such as Sophie Hunger, the Antilopen Gang and Tocotronic to indie favourites Sterolab and rock legends Maximo Park. Whether they’re at the start of their journey to stadium-filling fame or are happy with their niche, these acts are well catered for in the hall or the smaller club. Both venues offer an intimate, unpretentious concert experience, offering unreserved seating and standing yet enough room to keep your distance if you want to. A particular highlight for zakk fans old and new is programme director Miguel Passarge’s Lieblingsplatte – or favourite record – festival held every December at which bands play their top album in its entirety. Where else but at zakk!  

Muse KTV 

Or how about sing-alongs of a different kind? Düsseldorf is home to the biggest Japanese community in Germany, so it’s no surprise that the city also offers some of the best places to enjoy a spot of karaoke. For example at Muse KTV on Klosterstrasse. KTV stands for karaoke television, and refers to the private karaoke rooms that cater especially for groups. Muse has eleven of these rooms available for you and your friends to sing your heart out in. Depending on the size, they can accommodate groups of between four and six and up to a maximum of fifteen. They can be rented by the hour, or you can book one of the ‘menus’, which includes beers and finger food. All rooms have comfy sofas, and of course the all-important karaoke machine! The advantage over open-stage karaoke is that you are not singing to strangers and don’t have to wait as long for your turn. But for the exhibitionists among you, the karaoke nights at McLaughlins (Fridays) and O’Reilly’s (Saturdays) come highly recommended! 

The Weltkunstzimmer 

October 2022 marks the tenth anniversary of Düsseldorf’s Weltkunstzimmer! Ten years in which artists from all manner of disciplines have played, danced, performed or exhibited in this former industrial bakery on Ronsdorfer Strasse. But the project itself is much older. Some 40 years ago, free spirit Hans Peter Zimmer took over a large swathe of this disused factory site with the aim of turning it into an open space for art and alternative culture. Although Zimmer himself has since died, his legacy lives on through the foundation that bears his name, which is partly financed by renting out the Weltkunstzimmer’s workshops, rehearsal rooms and studios. “An urban biotope and refuge for creativity in the heart of Düsseldorf,” is how the foundation describes the heritage-listed former factory that it calls home. At no time is the Weltkunstzimmer’s role in uniting various cultural disciplines more visible – and indeed audible – than during the Asphalt Summer Festival of Arts. Other recurring events include the digitale düsseldorf, the DIYsseldorf DIY /Synth & Soundart Festival, the acoustic festival and the monthly Musikzimmer concerts focused on up-and-coming local bands. 


Independent cultural venues, what are known as ‘off-spaces’ here, have long been part of Düsseldorf’s arts scene. Because they are often in pop-up or temporary locations, they invariably end up having to make way for building projects or other commercial interests, just when the vibe is at its best. So, we are all the more grateful that the Kassette in Düsseldorf’s Oberbilk district has now been going strong for more than ten years. The name of this cosy little bar reflects its retro vibe. Nostalgic, but never boring, thanks to the open-mic nights, the pub quizzes and a beer of the month. It’s also a great place to watch the city’s football team – Fortuna Düsseldorf – play on the big screen. But the Kassette draws its biggest crowds for its regular living room concerts. This is when mainly local musicians, but sometimes also guest acts from across Europe, get to perform on a small stage set up right in front of the bar’s street-facing windows. Kassette’s owners Tobias Wecker and Kim Thurau have a particular passion for alternative guitar bands. But their vintage-styled bar is also a great place to enjoy quieter fare from singer-songwriters. And, charmingly, you often don’t pay an actual entrance fee, but instead wait for the hat to go round. 

PONG – pop culture and gastronomy  

Hamed Shahi is a man to whom the music scene in Düsseldorf owes a huge debt of gratitude. Over the last decade, this native of the city has established several live music events that are now firmly established in the city’s calendar of events. The best known is the New Fall Festival: every autumn (hence the name New Fall), this festival brings popular international music acts to some of Düsseldorf’s most rarefied venues, the kind that usually play host to soloists and symphony orchestras. During the coronavirus pandemic, an open-air summer edition was held at the Ehrenhof, an ensemble of Expressionist buildings and gardens. The festival was run in parallel with Shahi’s ‘Parklife’ Sunday picnics, which saw DJs spin their tracks in various Düsseldorf parks. Also great for a picnic is the Beats & BBQ series, held on the lawns of the Ehrenhof on Saturday afternoons in summer, weather permitting of course! Hamed Shahi is also the man behind the PONG – pop culture gastronomy – events held in the foyer of the NRW Forum. His most recent feat at Pong was the revival of the legendary Tonfrequenz parties, which were held at a different venue back in the 2000s. Star DJs such as Jan Delay, Richard Dorfmeister and DJ Hell were there at the start to bring back the good times.   

Café Modigliani 

Düsseldorf’s trendy Unterbilk district just wouldn’t be the same without Friedensplätzchen square, and not just because of the Rhineland farmers’ market that is held there on Tuesdays and Fridays. A summer festival, an annual flea market and other small but excellent events are organised by a residents’ initiative that loves and cares for its square. The initiative was founded 25 years ago – where else but in the café on the square, the Modigliani. With its wooden bistro chairs, walls covered with film posters and prints, and dim lighting, this café-bar is one of the places that has come to characterise Düsseldorf’s pub scene. There are few better spots in the city to enjoy a glass or two of wine in the evening. It turns into a venue for live music on ‘Blue Mondays’, featuring bands from the local area but also further afield. Names such as Heavy Gummi, Hack Mack Jackson and Samba Bom should give you some indication of the eclectic acts that you can expect to see here. 

Title image: Düsseldorf Tourism

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