Southern California boasts tons of great places to see your favorite band of any size, from large stadiums to dirty little Punk dives. For purposes of this Top 10 list, I'm going to focus on venues that have capacities of 1,500 or less. These venues in Southern California are often the best places to see the worlds best known and unknown talent in the music industry up close and sometimes very personal.
10 - The 3 Clubs, Hollywood, CA. Best known as the main hang out in the 1990's movie "Swingers", this small and very intimate bar and club hosts some of the music industries biggest players on and off the stage. If you are on a budget and looking for a inexpensive date night, check out the Lynda Kay show every 1st Thursday of the month at 9 PM. The show is FREE and the drinks are on the reasonable/cheap side.
9 - Pure Platinum, Kearny Mesa (San Diego), CA. This venue is strictly adults only, in part because it's attached to a Gentlemen's Club. What would make a venue at a "Strip Club" so good? The girls are great if you're into that, but if you are not, the venue is worth the trip. What makes this a great venue is the stage, lighting, sound, and if you want to rent a hookah and smoke while you watch the band, this is the place to do it.
8 - Garage Inc. Pizza, San Bernardino, CA. Previously known as Ugly Duck Pizza, this small venue puts on some amazing all ages shows with great bands. Since changing ownership a few months back, musician and promoter Tracy Hammond has been hard at work improving the stage, lights, and sound. Great pizza and great fun for the whole family!
7 - House of Blues, Sunset Strip - Hollywood, CA. There are 3 House of Blues locations in Southern California. The HoB on Sunset is the oldest and still my favorite. The overall feeling is more "anything goes" and inviting than the other, seemingly more corporate HoB's in Anaheim and San Diego.
6 - Brick by Brick, San Diego, CA. "The Brick" has been around for awhile, and if you can handle the "dive bar" odors it often omits, it's a great place to see a band playing on a large stage that invites the crowd to the front. Awesome place to see a hard rock or metal show.
5 - The Key Club, Hollywood, CA. Upstairs or down, you always have a great view of the amazing bands playing at this legendary Sunset club. If you get bored on the main level or upstairs, or you just need a break from the chaos, you can chill out down under.
4 - Mirror Image Studios, Anaheim, CA. Set in a industrial park, this venue is off the beaten path but worth the trip to see some incredible bands. Great lighting, outstanding lighting, and amazing sound. They do it right at Mirror Image!
3 - The Roxy, Sunset Strip - Hollywood, CA. Legendary, clean, great everything, and there's always something cool going on.
2 - The Slidebar, Fullerton, CA. This club is Rock Star owned but doesn't have a Rock Star attitude. To me, as I've stated in the past, The Slidebar is everything Hard Rock Cafe and the House of Blues should be. Cool atmosphere, lots of musical memorabilia from huge bands, amazing food, awesome staff, and a small venue that gets packed with and by both small and incredibly huge bands.
1 - The Whisky a Go Go, Sunset Strip - Hollywood, CA. The Doors, Motley Crue, and countless other musical giants have cut their teeth at and made this iconic venue a second home. Awesome stage, lighting, sound, and not a bad seat in the house, either upstairs or on the main level. At times it seems like the Whisky is still hanging on to old musical glory, but it remains the premium spot to see a Rock (or Metal) show. As a parent, I also appreciate the fact that almost every show is listed as all ages, so I can take my 13 year old daughter to see awesome bands at a legendary venue.
That's the Top 10 list, but there are some great venues that deserve mentioning including: SOMA (San Diego), Stinger's (San Bernardino), House of Blues (Anaheim), The Viper Room (Hollywood), The Glasshouse (Pomona), The Belly Up (Carlsbad), and more. Whether you agree or disagree with my list, you can agree with me on this: "Occupy Your Local Venue & Support Your Local Bands!".
Written by: Wes Anderson, http://www.ROCKwellUnScene.com
Photo's by: Rockwell Anderson Media (Melissa & Wes Anderson)
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