There’s no doubt about it – music lovers will be in their element in Rio de Janeiro. Brazilians are an extremely musical race, and the locals make the most of any opportunity to break into song and dance. Even where there are no musical instruments present, when the drinks begin to flow someone will almost always begin to tap out a rhythm on a table, or with a box of matches…whatever comes to hand.
Live music of exceptionally high quality can be heard across all corners of the city at weekends – from top end tourist bars in Leblon and Ipanema to laid-back hole in the wall bars. While some spots charge an entry fee or artistic cover, impromptu live music jams are usually free of charge, and street music performances often take place in public spaces such as in front of the famous Arcos da Lapa or up in the hills of boho Santa Teresa, where the busy Largo do Guimaraes and the less tourist Largo das Neves can both be easily reached by the famous Santa Teresa tram, and where live music events frequently take place, particularly during the height of Brazilian summer and in the run up to Carnival.
Music in Rio de Janeiro isn’t all about Samba either. Forro, a sexy, country-style music from Brazil’s Northeast(if that isn’t a contradiction in terms…) is hugely popular in Rio, while the notorious ‘Funk’ (pronounced funky, and nothing like US-style funk, this is the sound of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas) can be heard blasting from car stereos across the city. The best place to check out Forro is at the Feira Nordestina (Northeastern fair) in the north of the city – there’s music and dancing non-stop for 48 hours ar weekends, and plenty of places to refuel on tasty Northeastern food.
While the authentic ‘Baile Funk’ (funk ball) necessitates a trip to Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, this is not safe to do without knowledgable locals. Instead, check out a safer version at the monthly I Love Baile Funk events held at Circo Voador in Lapa. While the recent police occupation of several Rio favelas as made them safer places to venture into, it’s still best to give their nightspots a miss unless you are with someone who knows what they are doing and where they are going.
Hip hop in Rio de Janeiro comes second to funk in the popularity stakes, but is gaining in popularity, and there is a decent hip hop night with cheap entry held each Friday and Saturday at Febarj in Lapa. Meanwhile, rock music fans in Rio can feel a little neglected among the sexy samba and hard funk beats, but there are kindred spirits to be found. On Friday and Saturday evenings, take a taxi down to Praca das Bandeiras, in Centro, where a motley crew of punks and rockers, little seen bu day, rock out to love music and DJ rock anthems at an entire street of bars dedicated to metal and rock sounds.