Bay Area Music Venue Guide

Dawson Turner
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***WARNING: THIS ARTICLE IS NSFB (NOT SAFE FOR BUDGETS)***

From what I’ve seen, the sound scene in SF is and has always been exotic and eclectic. While I have only attended two on this list, I am making it selfishly for future reference as a music lover and for all those out there. I haven’t been to enough low key venues to list them personally, but I’ve dug for some cool ones, and ones with a long history of crowd pleasers. If you’re gonna drop some serious cash on a show, might as well do the research to make it worthwhile.

I’ve been here two weeks and the shows I’ve seen have been incredible. If I’m gonna flex,,,YEAH YEAH YEAHS @ The Greek Theatre and THE VOIDZ @ Great American Music Hall. The former comped for free by astronomical luck, I don’t know what else to say. Anything can happen. One thing about me is no matter the budget, if an artist I love is in town I am going to push those limits. Of course the live acts I was seeing were booming stage presences, but the venues that hosted them brought it over the moon.

 

Great American Music Hall

Located at the edge of the Tenderloin district (please be aware of your surroundings), a sublime venue. I was so floored by the low key mood this place brought. The architecture, lighting, general proximity to stage. Even the pre-show was a simple, brilliant combination of someone’s fantastically curated playlist and an arthouse film (that I’m still trying to find the name of) projected on a screen over curtains. Once the show started the screen above swallowed back into the ceiling and the curtains parted.

The stage at the Great American Music Hall is a focal point, elevated and framed by majestic red curtains. Its size and first floor layout flush to the audience allows for an especially intimate connection with the performers, fostering a unique and kinetic musical experience.

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Julian Casablancas and drummer Alex Carapetis of THE VOIDZ

Greek Theatre in Berkeley

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Sold out house at dusk for Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Greek

A stunning open-air theatre located literally steps off UC Berkeley campus, Greek Theatre is exactly what it sounds like. Collums, tiered stone stadium seating, hills above with grass, and with bars and snacks surrounding behind. Everyone with a ticket has a uniquely fantastic view of the show.

During evening performances, the Greek Theatre takes on a magical quality as the natural light fades and the stage is illuminated. Under the cover of night, the music fills the air, conjuring an unforgettable experience for artist and audience Upcoming acts for the summer include Charlie Puth, Niel Young, Big Thief, and Weezer.

The Fillmore

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It’s one of the most legendary music venues in the world. Cornered on Keary street is a giant ballroom venue, gorgeous dangling chandeliers and all. Opened in 1912, the venue has seen the world’s most audacious and influential acts. Namely The Grateful Dead (many, many times), Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Miles Davis.

The Warfield

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This indoor venue is stadium seated and colossal. The history of sound in the city of San Francisco cannot be understated. Celebrating its 100 year anniversary just last year, this venue has shown millions of audience members performers such as Bob Dylan, Prince, The Rolling Stones, and Radiohead. Upcoming acts this summer include:

The Independent

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A more intimate venue with max capacity of 500 bodies. Situated in San Francisco’s Alamo Square neighborhood (painted ladies!), this iconic spot has seen artists at the height of their career such as Green Day, The Black Eyed Peas, Phoenix, John Legend, Sonic Youth, Arctic Monkeys, Dave Chappelle and Beck. Wow dude.

Bottom Of The Hill

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To quote their website, “chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as “the best place to hear live music in San Francisco,” Bottom of the Hill presents some of the finest original artists, seven nights a week.”

I’ll close this piece with a more accessible venue, with the same level of renown as the others. Judging from images and scouring through reviews and Reddit testimonies, this place deserves a spot on the list. Seems to generate a rowdier crowd I can lose myself in.

Hosting shows minimum five nights a week, with tons of local artists and not necessarily boasting the biggest touring acts. Not a complaint, not every place needs to. The vibe seems immaculate, and even their site embodies that. Before I leave San Francisco I’ll be sure to check this out, with tickets starting incredibly reasonable at $15.

 

Thanks for reading, see you at the show!

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