Since moving from its original Asmalımescit location, Istanbul’s prime live music venue Babylon has moved to Bomonti, Şişli. Babylon is known for its lively program of international and local acts, focusing on jazz, rock, world music, funk, electronica, and alternative pop music. Babylon is within the Bomontiada complex, housed in the old Bomonti Bira Fabrikası (Bomonti Beer Factory), which is a 15-minute walk from Osmanbey metro station.
The 500-person concert hall fosters a cool, intimate vibe, with the audience standing close to the stage. Old brick walls give the feel of an underground warehouse party, which suits the venue’s alternative acts. Meanwhile, high-quality lighting and sound systems guarantee the best audiovisual experience.
Babylon has a history of bringing together local and foreign acts on the same stage – Turkish clarinetist Hüsnü Şenlendirici with Brooklyn Funk Essentials, or Joe McPhee and Turkish free jazz band KonstruKt, for example. Jazz saxophonist David Murray has been a regular performer at Babylon, even recording an album in memory of Babylon founder Mehmet Uluğ. Babylon also regularly hosts DJ sets by hot names in the music industry, turning the concert venue into a club-type dance floor.
Depending on the act being hosted that night, the crowd at Babylon can range from students on a relaxed night out to bearded jazzheads or foreign rock connoisseurs. For those who are interested in discovering something different in the Turkish and world music scenes, the Babylon program is a good place to watch.