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Latest Best of LA

LA’s Coolest Small Venues For Live Music

March 17, 2013 11:00 PM

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(credit: El Rey Theatre)

(credit: El Rey Theatre)

(credit: Grand Performances)

(credit: Grand Performances)

If you find mainstream music uninspiring, you’re not alone. Capture the energy that only real deal talent can deliver at one of these environment-rich venues, most of which are intimately sized for an up close and personal experience.

(credit: Asa Moore)

(credit: Asa Moore)

El Rey Theatre

5515 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036
(323) 936-6400

The historic El Rey is an art deco theater-turned-live music house. Everything from its sweeping staircases, grand chandeliers, architecture and décor transport you to an era gone by. It is a visually striking venue that gets further amplified by live music performances. Performances are general admission and standing room only.

(credit: Hotel Cafe)

(credit: Hotel Cafe)

Hotel Café

623 1/2 N Cahuenga Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028
(323) 461-2040

A coffee shop in its former life, the Hotel Café is a cozy brick-walled space that is revered as the “premier singer/songwriter venue in the United States.” Artists of all levels play here, from popular acts (like Jason Mraz, John Mayer) to rising stars, all on the same bill. Music lovers come here for the incredible talent and a sound system that people just can’t get enough of.

Related: Best Places To Discover New Music In Los Angeles

(credit: Echoplex)

(credit: Echoplex)


1154 Glendale Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026
(213) 413-8200

To get to the Echoplex, enter through the alley and descend below the Echo down a flight of stairs. You’ll discover a sprawling industrial basement of sorts with an exposed ventilation system overhead and plenty of room below for dancing to the beat of your next favorite artists set. This venue focuses on new and upcoming music acts and the occasional influential pro.

(credit: Allen Henson)

(credit: Allen Henson)

One Eyed Gypsy

901 E. 1st Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(626) 340-3529

There’s more to the eccentrically cool One Eyed Gypsy than just booze and Skee-ball. Those in the know come to get down to the live acts. The genre is best described as Americana, with artists like Brother Yusef , The Harmonica Boss and the ever-so-popular L.A. Hootenanny. If you prefer a change of pace from the usual entertainment suspects found here, check out Frolic. This bi-weekly event features DJ’s playing legitimate sets (with actual vinyl records) on a sound system that’s sure to blow your mind.

(credit: Grand Performances)

(credit: Grand Performances)

Grand Performances

350 S Grand Ave, Ste A-4
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 687-2190

Tucked inside the California Plaza you’ll find an outdoor amphitheatre that features a water stage and all the bells and whistles necessary to put on a good show. Grand Performances (an independent non-profit) organizes free summer concerts featuring an impressive list of acts. Since there are no charges for concerts, they do not require tickets or reservations, so plan to get there on time to snag a seat! Open seating begins two hours before scheduled performances on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Take the Metro into Downtown and stop en route for some food and wine to enjoy during the show. There’s something majestic about an urban backdrop that comes to life at night with unexpected music, lights and energy. Sign up for the newsletter via their website to keep tabs on the upcoming concert series. You can also donate to keep this gathering place for performance arts alive for many more summers to come.

Related: Guide To The Metro Rail In Los Angeles

Joy Bitonio has the phrase “Joie de Vivre” tattooed on her shoulder, a reminder to enjoy life every single day. She has a voracious appetite for fun, adventure, food, good cocktails and works out like a madwoman to keep it all together. Check out her other articles on CBS LA. She also covers fitness on Examiner. Follow her on Twitter.

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