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Home MAGAZINE Saturday Night California's Best Music Venues

California's Best Music Venues

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Not going to Coachella? It’s ok, we’ve got you covered. LA and San Francisco music lovers are incredibly lucky to live in cities that offer an astonishing number of live music venues. With so many performances happening every night, it can be overwhelming to decide where to start. Here is a guide of our favorites to get you rocking.

Spaceland
Silver Lake • clubspaceland.com
This eastside hipster mecca is a great place to discover the next big indie band before the rest of the world. We recommend the free Monday night residency which has featured bands like Cold War Kids, Silversun Pickups, and Rilo Kiley. The first ever performance here featured Beck and the Foo Fighters.


Upcoming shows:

Helen Stellar - 4/5, 4/12, 4/19, 4/26
When you find yourself wondering what to do on a Monday night, the no cover residencies at Spaceland are always a good bet.

Shearwater - 4/24
If you like lyrical ballads and getting in touch with nature you might find inspiration in this Austin-based band.

The Viper Room
Sunset Strip • viperroom.com
You are likely to run into a hardcore Johnny Depp fan or hang out with a rock star at this surprisingly small, infamous venue. Either way, you will go home with a good story and possibly discover your next favorite band. Beware, this venue is rumored to be haunted.

Upcoming shows:
Warner Drive - 4/9
This band packs the house with an enthusiastic crowd. Find out why the Viper Room is the place to be when they play their song “Viper Room” at the actual Viper Room.

The Winter Sounds - 5/2
Indie hearts will melt when they hear the sound of this band’s fragile melodies.

El Rey Theatre

Mid-Wilshire • theelrey.com
Originally an art deco movie theater, this all ages venue is an official registered Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. When you step into the venue you will feel like you have been transported to a past era.

Upcoming shows:
Butch Walker and the Black Widows - 4/12
Butch Walker has an amazing gift for songwriting. He has written hits for many bands including Avril Lavigne and Bowling for Soup. Watch his performance and you will understand why so many famous artists have chosen him as a co-writer.

The Bronx 4/20
Be prepared for a night of excitement and chaos when The Bronx takes the stage. Watch this show at your own risk.


The Roxy Theatre
Sunset Strip • theroxyonsunset.com
The Rocky Horror Picture Show made its US stage play debut here in the 1970s. If you are lucky, you have been invited to a secret show like Weezer or Them Crooked Vultures at this legendary venue. If not, it’s time to make a new friend at the Roxy.

Upcoming shows:
Nikka Costa - 4/9
Who doesn’t need a little funk, beat, and soul in their life? Nikka Costa will energize you and get those feet tapping.

Killola - 4/23
Welcome to a pop rock party with a taste of punk punch.

Troubadour
West Hollywood • troubadour.com
This venue is so rich with historical music moments and debuts that you have to check it out for yourself. Bands like The Byrds and The Eagles have discovered new members of their band while socializing here. If you’re looking to join a band, maybe it’s the place to start hanging out.

Upcoming shows:

Serena Ryder - 4/13
This talented Canadian artist won Juno Awards for Best New Artist in 2008 and Adult Alternative Album of the Year in 2009.

Nada Surf - 5/25, 5/26
You will be “Popular” if you take your friends to see this band. Hang loose and ride the (sound) waves at this indie rock show.


The Hotel Café
Hollywood • hotelcafe.com
If the band you are listening to sounds like the soundtrack to your favorite television show or movie, it probably is. This cozy venue is famous for launching the careers of singer-songwriters. Zach Braff handpicked songs by Hotel Cafe perfomers for the hit soundtrack to Garden State.

Upcoming shows:

Sleeping at Last - 4/26
Hear melodies so sweet they may make you cry. Their song “Quicksand” was featured in Grey’s Anatomy. We weren’t kidding about the soundtrack thing.


Avalon
Hollywood • avalonhollywood.com
Built in 1927 as The Hollywood Playhouse, Avalon has gone through several name changes and seen the likes of The Beatles, The Clash, Prince and Nirvana grace its famous stage throughout the years. The venue is now at the forefront of LA’s electronic music scene, attracting some of the biggest DJs in the world to Avaland on Saturdays and Control on Fridays.

Upcoming shows:
Made In Brazil with Gui Boratto - 4/10
Trade in the top 40 hits and emo guitars for a taste of Brazilian music producer Gui Boratto’s minimal techno beats and sexy grooves.

Roger Sanchez - 5/29
One of the world’s most renowned house music DJs, Roger Sanchez brings his funky, Ibiza-style mixes to Avalon and will have you dancing until sunrise (literally, the club is open until 7 a.m.)


Bootleg Theatre
Silver Lake • bootlegtheater.com
Not only is Bootleg Theatre home to live music, but this artsy little eastside secret also presents plays.

Upcoming shows:

Buffy Sainte-Marie - 4/15
Legends like Elvis Presley and Cher have covered songs by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Her music has been the voice of activism since the 1960s.

Aqualung - 4/26
Aqualung’s songs have been played in so many movies and TV shows that you probably have heard one without even knowing it. Some of the productions that have chosen to feature songs by Aqualung include A Lot Like Love, Wicker Park, Gossip Girl, Scrubs, CSI: Miami, Skins, and more.

Bottom of the Hill
Potrero Hill • bottomofthehill.com
It may be called Bottom of the Hill, but it is one of our top choices. This venue is a great place to catch some up and coming bands from various musical genres.

Upcoming shows:
Scissors For Lefty, The Hundred Days, Saint Motel - 4/3
This is going to be an epic night. Dancing, crowd surfing, and world peace may ensue when these three fun bands play.

Local Natives - 6/3
Take a lesson on how to harmonize. It’s not as easy as this band makes it sound.

The Fillmore
Pacific Heights • livenation.com
Known as a center for musical counterculture in the 1960s, Hunter S. Thompson even mentioned it in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Bands such as The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Pink Floyd have performed there.

Upcoming shows:
La Roux - 4/14
La Roux will woo you with catchy electro dance beats and a pretty British accent.

The Dead Weather - 4/15, 4/16
Jack White plus Alison Mosshart plus Dean Fertita plus Jack Lawrence equals pure magic.

Great American Music Hall
The Tenderloin • gamh.com
Built over a hundred years ago, this beautiful venue has provided entertainment for generations. In the early 1900s it was a scandalous restaurant/bordello, and in the 1940s a jazz club.

Upcoming shows:
The Church - 4/6
This is your chance to get religious, and by religious we mean rock out to this Australian band.

Shout Out Louds - 5/18
Just so you know, “If you fall hard, I fall harder” for these Swedish rockers.


Café Du Nord
Castro • cafedunord.com
The club’s Victorian décor will make you feel like you are watching a show in a prohibition speakeasy. In fact, this intimate lounge built in 1907 once was one.

Upcoming shows:
Adam Green - 4/6, 4/7
You may know him from The Moldy Peaches, but Adam Green has his own solo career going. His silly yet clever lyrics will charm, disturb, entertain, and make you feel awkward all at the same time.

The Shondes - 5/6
It would be a shame to miss this band. Their music combines such various influences as feminist punk and classical music to share an activist voice.


By Elizabeth Sherman

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