If a band is going on tour, they will undoubtedly visit Los Angeles. LA is a place whose music scene is as renowned as its beaches and film stars. Given the popularity for live music, there are a number of venues from the grandiose Staples Center to the smallest of clubs downtown. Here is a list of our 10 favorite places to see a show in Los Angeles.
A legendary venue located on Hollywood’s infamous Sunset Boulevard. Since its inception in the 1940s the venue has been host to an unfathomable amount of famous musicians and bands. Everyone from Bob Marley and Hendrix to Jay Z and Alt-J has graced the Palladium’s stage. It was restored in 2008 and continues to host some of the biggest names in contemporary music, while maintaining its classic character and aesthetic. It’s also entirely general admission and therefore does not segregate audiences to various tiers of a stadium.
Located towards the outskirts of LA County in Pomona, The Glass House revels in its simplicity. Tickets are fairly cheap, they tend to get great up and coming bands, it’s a single, fairly compact room, and the crowds prove false the stereotype that LA doesn’t like to dance. Downtown Pomona is a surprisingly fun place to get either a pre or post show drink and unlike the majority of venues in downtown LA, parking is cheap and straightforward.
3. The Troubadour
In West Hollywood on the border of Beverly Hills sits this legendary venue. Originally opened in 1957 the venue has been a major player in a number of musical movements and the careers of some of the world’s biggest artists, including The Eagles, Elton John, and Van Morrison. All of these artists played shows early in their career at The Troubadour, which helped to establish their positions as up and coming musical greats. The venue continues to host a variety of young bands, while occasionally pulling in massive names. Tickets are relatively cheap and they have a pretty decent bar inside.
Experiencing a show at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery is an experience unlike anything else you may find in Los Angeles. Sitting on a lawn surrounded by tombstones of former actors, as the sunsets and your favorite band take the stage creates an extremely unique and surreal atmosphere. It doesn’t have as regular of a calendar because like most outdoor venues it operates in seasons. So if the opportunity arises, seeing a show there is a definite must. They also allow you to bring in food, drink, and a blanket, making for the perfect sunset picnic. Just make sure to clean up after yourself and respect the graves around you.
5. The Smell
Los Angeles’ longest standing DIY venue. Located in an alley in the heart of downtown, The Smell is probably the most punk rock venue in the area. Each night, it is both home to a variety of local acts and contemporary royalty of punk, lo fi, and rock and roll music. It is the kind of venue that no matter who is playing, just showing up on a random night is guaranteed to be an incredible experience. It is also incredibly cheap, the most expensive show I have ever seen there was $15, which is nothing compared to the unreasonable fees being charged by the bigger venues like The Fox Theatre and Staples Center.
6. The Echo
Located adjacent to Echo Park, almost every night of the week The Echo is pulling in either incredible independent musicians or throwing some ridiculously fun themed party like Bowie night, Beyonce vs Rihanna Party, or Funky Sole Night. The best part of the venue is its intimacy. No matter where you stand in the room, you are a short hop away from the band. It is also located adjacent to and partnered with another superb venue, The Echoplex, which typically pulls slightly bigger names, but lacks The Echo’s intimacy.
Another venue on the outskirts of LA. The Observatory is in Santa Ana and well worth the trip. The venue is paired with the Constellation Room and together; the two rooms regularly host some of the biggest names from a variety of genres, typically for a very affordable price. The best part of the venue is their annual festivals, Beach Goth and Burgerama. Hosted by band The Growlers, Beach Goth brings together some of Southern California’s best punk, rock, and rap together for the weekend. Burgerama provides similar vibes and musicians, balancing the big names with the intimate. Last year’s festival saw Weezer headline alongside local favorites FIDLAR.
8. The Wiltern
The building stands as a landmark on the edge of Korea Town in Los Angeles. It was initially opened as a vaudeville theatre in the 1930s. In recent history, the venue consistently brings in the biggest names in alternative music. Everyone from Bloc Party and the Arctic Monkeys to Miley Cyrus has played shows here. The inside is as classy and overwhelming as the outside of the historic building, with a lot of the original setup maintained. The only problem, is the venue is set up in tiers, so a general admission ticket is not going to guarantee a position in the pit and for most acts, if you don’t line up, it is possible to get stuck starring at the stage from a balcony.
9. The Roxy
Another infamous club located on the Sunset Strip. The Roxy is famously owned by Lou Adler and has been host to a number of bands waiting for their big break, from Bruce Springsteen to Sum 41. Last May U2 stopped by for a concert in between stadium gigs. Aside from its unbeatable location, the venue provides an intimate space to get up close and personal with some amazing bands for a typically low cost.
Los Angeles has a lot of big venues like The Staples Center and The Hollywood Bowl, which serve their purpose as a place for the biggest pop stars to call home. The Greek Theatre exists on a level below the overwhelming nature of big arenas and above the intimacy of downtown clubs. It is one of the areas best outdoor venues and pulls in massive pop acts like Sam Smith and the Weeknd, old favorites like The Beach Boys, and indie stars like Ben Howard. It is one of the few large venues that is able to create a unique atmosphere. Also, having to sit towards the back isn’t necessarily a terrible thing because it provides a sense for the size and lay out and the sound travels very neatly throughout the entire space. The only downside is tickets can be fairly pricey depending on the act.