After years of playing in bands, Le Quang Minh decided to turn his passion for music into something new for Saigon’s social scene: an acoustic bar. Find out how this small music venue created a big cultural shift in Vietnam.
Anyone who has had the pleasure of visiting Saigon knows that this high-octane city has an indescribable energy. Life happens right in front of you, but if you look closely, you’ll find an increasingly active underground world that is changing perceptions of the government controlled country. A growing collection of small, live music venues have played an important part in this evolution, not least thanks to Le Quang Minh, the founder of Acoustic Bar, and one of the scene’s pioneers.
Le Quang Minh’s desire to start Acoustic Bar was born both out of his passion for music and his desire to help others experience the emotions and social connection that listening to it can bring. Opening its doors in 2007 with the goal of introducing locals to new talent through live music, it quickly became a favourite spot for anyone keen to enjoy all sorts of different genres of music in a fun and free spirited environment.
The small venue is located down an unassuming alley in the up-and-coming District 3, an area that includes all things Saigon – tons of street food, sprinkled with modern restaurants and cafés and home to the majority of Saigon’s museums. The intimate space welcomes locals, expats and tourists of all ages to escape to a world of sounds from all sorts of local artists – they never quite know what they’re going to get. Part bar, part café, entering Acoustic Bar is like stepping into an alternate universe with dim lighting and a hushed tone that more than comes to life as soon as the first act hits the stage.
Minh, a former musician himself, created Acoustic Bar because he, “wanted to feel the joy of seeing the physical development” of his own passion for music. In the early 2000s, he performed with his band Tiet Tau Moi around town, but noticed that most venues catered primarily to foreigners. When he searched for a space where locals could enjoy live music, he couldn’t find one. And so, Acoustic Bar was born.
Hosting a variety of musicians each night, from classic rock to pop and everything in between, Minh’s in-house band playing commercial hits takes turns with local artists doing their own and distinct things – and it’s this wonderful mix that sets his venture apart. “We take on all genres, any band we like. If we like their music, we’ll take them on in the hope that we can introduce our audience to something new.” The thing that draws all his acts together is the emotive response they get from his audience each night. “Music is connected to emotions. Sometimes you feel like listening to a heavy rock song, but other times, you would prefer a nice ballad. We want to feature music that people can relate to, and that means all kinds of it. You can think of us as a music hot pot,” he adds with a slight chuckle. “I came up with the slogan because I know that there are so many people out there who share the same love for music. My goal is to bring them together.”
And, bringing people together is exactly what Minh has done. He envisioned a space where music lovers could connect. “You know when you listen to your favorite song and then find out that someone else in the crowd also loves that song, it’s instant friendship. That is truly my goal and Acoustic’s goal: connecting people with music.” And he is also connecting his crowd with a broader sense of pushing boundaries and regulations as he gives young artists a platform from where they can share their talents and vision with their local community. Clearly they are loving it – and we highly recommend you check it out. Make sure you get there early, though, because although we’re sure you’ll enjoy the music, we’re not so sure you’ll be able to find a seat.
Don’t miss a beat:
6E1 Ngô Thời Nhiệm, Phường 7, Quận 3, Ho Chi Minh City