Best Arts & Culture / Best Place To Catch Promising Musicians at an Open Mic
Station Bar + Lounge
The umbrella of musicians and singers on the island is a huge one. Since opening its doors in December 2011, The Station has made it rain some of the best local muscians on the island.
Located across from the Hawaii Convention Center, The Station has shined in the role of a little, cozy live music venue that could. Monday is open mic night, acoustic fare reigns supreme every Tuesday, and Sundays include a blend of all of the above, with a touch of the unexpected. On a recent Sunday night visit, the evening started off with acoustic jams with a drummer holding down the beat on a wooden block, then a DJ and beat boxer got busy, only to be triumphed by a trumpeter and a guy wrecking shop on an MPC.
With free admission on most nights, this venue is the ideal locale to cruise, congregate, sit back, sip and imulsify the mind with indie rock, hip hop, doo wop and soul.
Runner Up: Edge Bar Lounge
Best Place to eat and hear Hawaiian Music
Chai’s Island Bistro
“The Brothers Cazimero are some of the most popular musicians in Hawaii, and they don’t perform anywhere else,” says Chef Chai Chaowasaree. He’s been working hard in the kitchen at Chai’s Island Bistro for the past 15 years. “You’d probably pay $10,000 for them for a private event or $50 to see them at the Hawaii Theatre.”
These only-at-Chai’s performances by the Cazimeros take place most Friday nights, with Robert Cazimero doing his own set with a hula performer on Wednesdays. But we don’t want you to forget the other regular notables: Jerry Santos on Thursdays and Danny Couch on Saturdays.
The creative spark that first got Chai noticed hasn’t flamed out, and neither has his reputation for having some of the best live music on the island. Still at the top of his game, Chai offers a new five-course tasting menu every month, Sunday through Tuesday for $40 ($55 with wine pairing). But what’s possibly even more enticing than his Alaskan King Crab Cakes ($18) and Grilled Mongolian Lamb Chops ($30–$42) is the entertainment he brings to the stage four nights a week.
With a tropical island setting, indoor and outdoor seating, high-class entertainment and a menu to match, Chai’s is here to stay.
Best place to enjoy live slack key at the bar
Kani Ka Pila Grille in the Outrigger Reef Hotel
August, traditionally the month for slack-key guitar festivals, reminds us not to be a stranger to the Honolulu restaurants where you can enjoy live music from the masters, up close and personal, year-round.
Along with sweet tunes of his own composition, Cyril Pahinui plays “Hi’ilawe” and other “Pops” Gabby classics recently re-popularized by the soundtrack to The Descendants, with his band on Wednesdays from 6–9 p.m. But every evening of the week features a different top musician.
Essentially the pool bar of the Outrigger Reef, with plentiful tables and a gazebo for the musicians, Kane Ka Pila Grille’s warm, no-pressure, ohana atmosphere and irresistible coconut popcorn shrimp, is the perfect pupu/dinner place to rock your Hawaiian soul.
Best Event to Melt Your Face Off
No Suck Fest
Moshin’ ain’t easy.
Believe me, I know firsthand, sort of. I was there when punk enthusiast (and future festival co-coordinator) Dana Paresa was thrown out of a Chinatown bar for getting her mosh on a couple years ago. Sigh, those oh, so innocent memories…
Since then, She and Some Headbanging Banshees (free band name, y’all) have scraped together No Suck Fest–the island’s premier underground punk riot that takes all things guitars, Sharpies on ripped denim, D.I.Y. and PBR, throws them into a used blender and pushes the “Shred” setting.
This summer’s recent result: a non-stop revolving cracked glass door weekend of local and mainland bands (Toys That Kill, Night Birds, TV Microwave, Witch Baby, just to name four…out of 29!) rocking out for a legion of devout fans at Mercury, Anna’s and The Manifest, sponsored by YOUR SWEAT.
Clean up on aisles Hotel and Keeaumoku. There’s still a medusa of faces on the floor!
Best idea to come from the Artists’ Lofts in chinatown
National Pillow Fight League
It may be hard to acknowledge pillow fighting as a real sport, but National Pillow Fight League creator, Eric West, takes it seriously. Inspired by the struggles his buddies in roller derby faced with time commitment and the fact that roller derby is actually kind of dangerous, he says he wanted to make the sport accessible to everyone. “You could just basically show up and compete in any location, such as a public park, an art venue or even a small bar,” says West. He has a rulebook and is even fighting for the cause in court: a Canadian company featuring sexy models mock-pillow fighting threatened to sue. However, there is nothing other than pillows that they share in common. There are divisions, team captains, on- and off-field rules, official competitions, rankings, even seasons, and he has goals of taking it into scholastic sports, a clothing line, even couple’s therapy sessions. Please let this exist for our children’s future.