The Best Live Music in Johannesburg This May 2024

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Live music in Johannesburg is alive and thriving! The city has some bangin’ live music venues and a bunch more bars that regularly put on great bands. Whether you’re looking to brush up on rare chamber music evenings, get rowdy in the underground sound scene, or catch that bucket list show of top local performers, we’re here to help by rounding up some standout live gigs to get around this month.

live music in Johannesburg

Thandiswa Mazwai

Award-winning musician Thandiswa Mazwai is returning with her 4th studio album – Sankofa. Recorded in Johannesburg, Dakar, and New York, Sankofa combines archival Xhosa music, jazz and West African music. Sankofa is a Twi word from the Akan people of Ghana that translates to “go back and fetch what has been left behind.” 

“In our journeys we may lose our sense of self, our history, our will to fight. We may lose language or ways of being,” explains Thandiswa. “Sankofa invites us go back and fetch what has been lost so that we can return whole.”

Production is largely developed with co-composer Tendai Shoko and features tracks produced by Meshell Ndegeocello and Nduduzo Makhatini. The work, like much of Thandiswas’ previous work, celebrates Pan-Africanism and is a musical conversation between South Africa, West Africa and the Diaspora.

The Sankofa Live show will present new music alongside Thandiswa’s old classics that go back to her first solo album, Zabalaza, which celebrates 20 years in 2024. She will be joined by special guests.

Cost: R350pp, book via Computicket

When: Saturday, 11 May from 7pm
Where: Big Top Arena at Carnival City Casino, Cnr Century Road &, Elsburg Rd, Brakpan, Boksburg

live music in Johannesburg

Matthew Mole

Popular South African artist, Matthew Mole, embarks on a national tour in celebration of his latest album ‘Wake Up, It’s Morning’ featuring hits such as ‘Okay,’ ‘Always by my Side,’ ‘See Me Again’ and ‘Wake Up.’ Fans can expect a high-energy performance by the platinum-selling singer/songwriter, brewing a concoction that’s part folk, part electronic, and all shades eccentric.

Matthew’s latest musical odyssey stirred up 5 million Spotify streams in record time and continues to gain in popularity. His career has led to massive opportunities, such as sharing the limelight with the international act Bastille or gallivanting across the globe, from the USA to the far reaches of Thailand and Russia. Now, he brings his music back to where it all began for his adoring fans in South Africa.

Cost: R245 – R295pp, book via Howler

When: 31 May, 6pm to 11pm
Where: Sognage, 304 Tungsten Rd, Strydompark, Johannesburg

live music in Johannesburg

Morena Leraba

Morena Leraba is hosting one of his last few live concerts in Johannesburg before heading to Eurrope. You can look forward to an evening of remodelled and genre-defying sounds of Lesotho, all set and merged with various genres for finished sounds that are psychedelic, entrancing and future-facing.

Cost: From R100pp, book via Quicket

When: Saturday, 11 May from 7pm to 2am
Where: Smoking Kills, 78A 4th Ave, Melville, Johannesburg

Live music in Johannesburg

Internet Girl

Since bursting onto the scene in 2020 Internet Girl has brought a truly fresh and unique sound to the South African Alternative scene. The band mixing energetic Indie rock with elements of Pop-punk, Hip-hop, and Hyperpop to create songs that simultaneously feel nostalgic and yet different from anything you’ve heard before. 

The band will be doing their first ever live concert at Smoking Kills in Melville. Supporting acts include Club Valley and Hugo Pooe.

Cost: From R100pp, book via Quicket

When: Friday, 31 May from 6pm to 11pm
Where: Smoking Kills, 4th Ave, Melville, Johannesburg

Jonathan Roxmouth
Jonathan Roxmouth | Photo: Jaco Bothma, Empire Photography

Candelabra Classics: a pianistic salute to Liberace with Jonathan Roxmouth

The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra presents Candelabra Classics – A Pianistic Salute to Liberace – featuring Jonathan Roxmouth and conducted by Eddie Clayton. This first-of-its-kind collaboration is on stage in Parktown for two shows only this May.

Join Roxmouth and the full Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra as they play a mix of favourite classics, songs and spectacles made famous by the renowned pianist, singer and showman, Liberace. This is the last opportunity for music lovers in Joburg to enjoy Roxmouth on stage again before he heads to international shores to rejoin the World Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Phantom of the Opera’.

Programme highlights during the two unforgettable performances include the works of Addinsell, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Gershwin, Grieg, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Strauss and Tchaikovsky.

Cost: R170 – R400pp, book via Quicket

When: Fri, 17 May at 7.30pm | Sun, 19 May at 3pm
Where: Wits Linder Auditorium, 27 St Andrews Rd, Parktown, Johannesburg

Vusi Nova and DJ Zinhle
Vusi Nova and DJ Zinhle

Rock the City Queer Festival

The 5th annual Rock The City Queer Festival is happening at Constitution Hill, and they’ll be celebrating diversity, love, and authenticity like never before. This year’s theme, “Live Authentically, Love Unconditionally, Be Fearlessly You,” embodies the spirit of embracing our true selves and spreading love without boundaries.

Get ready for a spectacular lineup of performances, empowering speakers, vibrant art installations, and engaging workshops. Live performances include Vusi Nova, Dj Zinhle, PH, Chley, Wanda Baloyi, Puggy, QueenOfHearts, Billionaires, Genesis, Zoli Sway, NE SH LY, Siswendawo Pheonix, Pretty Ndie The MC, Melzo, X-Mile, Nomsa Manzini and many more.

Cost: From R200pp, book via Quicket

When: Friday, 17 May from 12pm to 1am
Where: Constitution Hill Precinct, 11 Kotze St, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

Drakensberg Boys Choir

Drakensberg Boys Choir

The Drakensberg Boys Choir returns to Joburg for Music in the City 2024, a special extravaganza on the Nelson Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theatre. The concert promises to be a world-class experience featuring world-class music offerings from the choir. Audiences can again look forward to a rich musical line-up showcasing a tapestry of musical genres, ranging from classical masterpieces to contemporary and well-known Afro-Pop tunes.

Cost: From R200pp to R420pp, book via Webtickets

When: Running from 30 May to 2 June, various times
Where: Mandela Theatre at Joburg Theatre,

Zamajobe

20 years of Ndawo Yami with Zamajobe

Join Zamajobe for this once-in-a-lifetime moment that celebrates 20 years of the singer’s most endearing and critically acclaimed album, Ndawo Yami.

The singer will perform tracks from the award-winning album such as Magic, Hey, Hey, Hey and many more. She’s also excited to share a special preview of new music from her upcoming album.

Back in 2014, Zamajobe burst onto the scene as an Idols Top 10 runner-up and quickly positioned herself in the music industry as a powerful vocalist and visionary composer. Shortly after that her debut album, Ndawo Yami, was released which remained on the charts with only four singles. The Euro / MTV, Metro FM award nominee and SAMA award winner has toured international and local stages over the years.

Cost: R400pp to R500pp, book via Webtickets

When: Friday, 24 May from 7pm
Where
: The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City Casino, Corner Of Northern Parkway &, Data Cres, Ormonde, Johannesburg South

Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Jan Bartoš and Conrad van Alphen

Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra’s Winter Symphony Season

The first concert of Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra’s Winter Symphony Season starts with a graceful and sensitive performance of Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No.2 Opus 40 in D minor. Visiting pianist Jan Bartoš has been described as “one of the finest European pianists” and “an emotional and sophisticated interpreter.” Jan has appeared in solo recitals with major orchestras and in chamber music concerts worldwide. His album recordings of the music of Janáček, Mozart, Beethoven and Novák have earned international critical praise from critics at Gramophone, Diapason, BBC Music Magazine, The Times, American Record Guide and The Guardian among other outlets.

Also on the evening programme is Elgar’s Enigma Variations, a heartbreaking work that is full of love, beauty, passion and all the lovely emotions you can think of. The romantic mood of the evening is rounded out by the incidental music of L’Arlesienne Suite No.2 by Georges Bizet, to accompany a story of doomed lovers.

Joburgers are in for the rare opportunity to see the masterful craft of conductor Conrad van Alphen in person. Conrad has gained tremendous popularity with orchestras and audiences alike for his energetic, efficient, and communicative performance style.

He remains chief conductor and artistic director of the Sinfonia Rotterdam, whose orchestra presents successful concert series at de Doelen in Rotterdam, Amare in The Hague and at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and tours to Mexico, Brazil, Columbia, Chile, China and Russia. SEE MORE CONCERTS HERE

Cost: From R170pp to R400pp, book via Quicket

When: Thursday, 30 May at 7:30pm
Where: Linder Auditorium, 27 St Andrews Road, Parktown, Johannesburg

Priddy Ugly

Priddy Ugly

Local rap powerhouse Priddy Ugly is taking the audience along a spectacular musical journey that will chronicle his extensive career for his next gig at The Marabi Club. Songs from his final album DUST released in early 2024 – the third instalment of a genre-defining trilogy that has spawned modern-day classics including ‘Soil’, ‘1632’ , ‘Ntja’ka’ and ‘Mosha’, also feature on the programme. 

Priddy Ugly will be accompanied by a five-piece live band, as well as a handful of special guests.

Cost: From R150pp to R200pp, book via Quicket

When: Friday, 17 May from 7pm to 12am
Where: The Marabi Club, Maboneng Precinct, 54 Siemert Rd, New Doornfontein, Johannesburg

St Olaf Choir

St. Olaf Choir and Quava Vocal Group

American Conductor, Anton Armstrong and the award-winning St Olaf Choir are coming to South Africa to share the stage with local heavyweights, Quava Vocal Group. 

St. Olaf Choir will perform a range of European and American Sacred Music from Bach to Bernstein, Christiansen to Whitacre, Spirituals, and American contemporary songs.

Quava Vocal Group, under the baton of Sabelo Mthembu, takes pride in their diverse repertoire ranging from traditional and contemporary Western choral music, and jazz to authentic African compositions.

Cost: From R100pp to R200pp, book via Webtickets

When: Friday, 31 May from 7pm
Where: Mara Lounge, 97 Fox St, Marshalltown, Johannesburg

Pretoria

Arno Carstens

Arno Carstens

South African music icon Arno Carstens is releasing his new EP at Railways Cafe on Thursday, 23 May. This will be a standing show, hosted at the venue’s theatre space. Get there early and tuck into burgers and craft brews before the concert.

Cost: From R200pp, book via Quicket

When: Thursday, 23 May from 6pm to 11pm
Where: Railways Cafe, 2 Hack Rd, Irene, Pretoria

DJ Vinny Da Vinci

Vinny Da Vinci

Each year, the Fire & Ice! Menlyn underground level 2 basement parking space is transformed into the ultimate party destination for a capsule party honouring the legendary Vinny Da Vinci.

This year’s gig is no different. The aim is to redefine partying in traditional spaces by creating an atmosphere that infuses rustic charm with a touch of elegance for an unforgettable experience.

Cost: From R200pp, book via Quicket

When: Saturday, 25 May from 12pm to 1am
Where: Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Menlyn, Basement Level 2, 213 Thys St, De Beers, Pretoria

Desmond and the Tutus

Park Acoustics

Friends and family are welcomed back to the rolling green lawns of Foresters PTA for the 2024 instalment of Park Acoustics. Enjoy an afternoon of good food, drinks, and fantastic entertainment from some of South Africa’s biggest talents, with one of SA’s funniest, King Nqoba, as MC.

Celebrate with entertainment from South Africa’s biggest export and looping legend Jeremy Loops, iconic local band Desmond & the Tutus, new kids on the block Droomsindroom, rap phenomenon Loufi, and other local talents including Die Melktert Kommissie, Keanan Eksteen and the groovy Black Heidi.

Facilities available at the event include a bar, food stalls, toilets, safe secure parking, and a kiddies play area to keep the young ones entertained. Attendees are permitted to bring their own picnic baskets and cooler boxes, but glass is prohibited.

Cost: R200 – R300pp | R60 – R150pp (u/18) | R599 (VIP), book via Plankton

When: 11 May, 10am to 6pm
Where: Foresters PTA, Plot 60, Tierpoort, Pretoria

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