Top Venues for Live Music in Oahu

When visiting Oahu, listening to live music (with or without a cocktail) is one of the best ways to unwind and enjoy the beauty and history of the islands, embedded in songs and rhythms. 

Hawaii's musical history began before contact with Western civilization, where ancient Hawaiians celebrated the gods with chants or mele. After foreigners began arriving on the islands, Hawaii's musical culture was influenced by Protestant missionary choirs, who introduced hymns and instruments such as the accordian, piano, violin and flute in addition to Mexican cowboys, who brought with them the guitar. Hawaiian musicians adapted the instrument by loosening the strings to accompany their melodies, creating a new sound called slack key guitar.

At the end of the 19th century, Portuguese immigrants introduced the machete de braga, which Hawaiians developed into the ukulele, and it eventually became a synonomous icon of the islands. Hawaiian music hit mainstream American audiences in the early 20th century, and by the 1930s, Hawaiian music styles were adapted for orchestras and big bands. In the 1970s, Hawaiian music went through a renaissance, where interest in slack-key was rejuvinated largely in part to legendary artist Gabby Pahinui. Later, Hawaiian music evolved into sub-generes like Jawaiian and contemporary music, which mixes Hawaiian and English lyrics.

From traditional and contemporary Hawaiian singers to ukulele and slack-key strummers to non-Hawaiian music like lively jazz, contemporary music and rock bands, Oahu boasts a diverse music scene, offering the perfect supplement to boosting the ambiance of your tropical vacation.