It’s no surprise that the music scene in Los Angeles is extremely diverse. On any given night you can look through your local event listings and see ads and reviews for big shows at the Hollywood Bowl, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Gibson Amphitheater and more. But what do music lovers do if they didn’t get their concert tickets in time – or are just jonesing for some live music on a Friday night?
I turned to my friend Lisa Gererde for some advice. This woman has been a bona-fide music junkie since her uncle bought her tickets to see the Cure’s “Wish Tour” at the Rose Bowl. Now she goes to a live show at least twice a month – and I enjoy reading her “live” reviews on Twitter. (Incidentally, she says that Twitter is one of the best ways to find out who’s playing where, what the ticket price/cover cost is (if any) and set times (very important if you are a true Angelino and perpetually late because of traffic and parking issues). Here are her top picks – with their Twitter handles – so that you can be as “in the know” as Lisa.
9081 Santa Monica Boulevard
West Hollywood, CA 90069
The Troubadour may appear unassuming, but the walls are pulsing with musical memories. Some of the world’s most famous musicians have played here – The Doors, Elton John, The Byrds, Metallica, Radiohead – and the Troubadour continues to make memories for music-loving Angelinos. This is Lisa’s favorite small venue and she says one of her top concert experiences of all time took place here – the Manic Street Preachers in 1999. Music-lovers enjoy the intimacy of the venue, which is standing room only, save a small bar and balcony for VIPs. Tickets for shows are occasionally available at the door, but you can buy them online as well through Ticketfly.com. Sign up for the weekly e-newsletter and stay in the know on the coolest shows.
Redwood Bar & Grill
Ste 202, 316 West 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-3527
This L.A. bar and grill has a great nautical theme – thick rope ladders, fish nets, skull & crossbones – not something you’d expect for a place so close to Downtown L.A.. Go there early for drinks and burgers and stay for the great local bands. If you are more of a last-minute live music goer, you can always count on Redwood for a cheap cover at the door – as low as $10 or less for some good music. Grab a booth in the way back right next to the small stage and have your earplugs ready.
The El Rey
5515 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036-3801
The El Rey is a beautiful Art-Deco theatre originally built in the 30s and converted into a live music venue in the 90s. Red carpeting, gorgeous chandeliers and low lighting make the El Rey one of the more romantic music venues in Los Angeles. Lisa has spent many a happy night here seeing great bands and musicians like She & Him, Feist, The Antlers, and Jonathan Richman. It’s mainly standing room with chairs lined up on either side if you feel inclined to use them. Tickets for events are available through Ticketmaster.com and sometimes released at the door.
2906 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
The Silverlake Lounge is not the most attractive, but what it lacks in personality it makes up for in the location. Tucked away in the Silverlake/Echo Park area of Los Angeles, it is the quintessential “hipster” dive bar. It’s cash only at the bar, so bring it with you to avoid paying exorbitant fees off the little ATM machine. Pay the cover at the door, buy yourself a PBR and lose yourself in the sounds of awesome Eastside bands. Sometimes the sound quality is not the best, so try to get as close as you can to the band. Silverlake Lounge also does an “open mic” night on Sundays, so sign up if you feel bold enough to show off your own talents!
1717 Silver Lake Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
L.A. club scenesters might remember The Satellite venue by its former name, Spaceland. It’s changed owners and been remodeled a bit, turning it into a great space to chill with your friends. The bar to your left offers everything from PBRs to mixed drinks and the stage to your right is flanked by a small counter you can lean up against if you don’t want to be front and center. The sound here is quite impressive for a small venue.
142 Pacific Coast Hwy
Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
For those living in the South Bay (and real lovers of live music), this is a great up-and-coming music hotspot. It’s a beautifully decorated space, with dark wood tables and cozy booths next to fireplaces and high and low seating. The monthly calendar is very diverse, including everything ranging from reggae to acoustic folk to rock ‘n’ roll. Most nights there is no cover charge (or a very small one), and some events are ticketed. The price range for tickets is between $10 – 30 depending on the act. You can reserve tables in advance or take your chances on finding a spot at the bar.
2913 East Anaheim Street
Long Beach, CA 90804-3721
This Long Beach dive bar attracts an eclectic mix of locals, young LBC punk kids and the token hipsters and features a wide range of local bands. You might also enjoy the creepy cherubic paintings in the restrooms. You can buy advance tickets for some events through brownpapertickets.com, but you can catch most of the shows just by paying a cover charge. Note: For you True Blood fans… this is where the “Fangtasia” scenes are filmed.
Angel’s Piano Bar & Supper Club
2460 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Angel’s Piano Bar is a delightful flashback to the 30s/40s era of speakeasies, flappers and gangsters. Of course the bar is peppered with well-dressed men and women as well as people who want to partake of a “Dillinger’s Delight” clad in jeans and a cute top. They also have delicious gastropub-type dishes and great drink specials. The live music selection is eclectic: jazz, soul and blues dominate the events calendar. This is a great date night spot too, with its fun retro vibe and cozy booths and bar.
Jennifer Vides writes a sports bar reviews blog. She aims to catch more music with her friend Lisa Gerarde soon.