When it comes to music, there are a lot of great arenas to catch a band. If you’re going to see big names there’s the Greek, Staples Center and The Hollywood Bowl. While the theatrical lighting and pyrotechnics are great fun, there’s nothing like a smaller venue to remind you why you fell in love with their music to begin with. The pulse of the crowd and the intimacy of being a stone’s throw from the stage is electric. The sound is usually better, too. There are a lot of great theaters and clubs to see a band (Whisky A Go Go, Viper Room, The Roxy,The Orpheum) but taking a chance on a show at one of these other venues in Los Angeles will definitely pay off.
3790 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
The Wiltern is pretty famous if not just for the bands that have played there (Franz Ferdinand, Billy Idol, Guns N’ Roses, Primus, Jack White, Iggy Pop), but for great seating and acoustics. The theater is split into 5 levels including a mezzanine area. There are also two bars to keep you refreshed during the show. Depending on the artist tickets can range from $60 up to $600 and higher. However, The Wiltern has a capacity of 1200-4000, making it impossible to get a bad view even in the cheap seats.
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9081 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Ever since opening day back in 1957 The Troubadour has been a favorite venue among show goers and bands alike. From a spontaneous Led Zeppelin jam session to the LA debuts of Neil Young, Elton John, Metallica, Pearl Jam and Fiona Apple, to surprise shows by Bob Dylan, Prince, Coldplay and Faith No More (just to name a few), The Troubadour is the place where magic happens. Eric Wibbelsmann has played The Troubadour with his band Rocket. “The acoustics there are great which is important for not just a musician but for people attending the show as well.” In fact Richard Pryor, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello and Steve Nieve have recorded and release albums “Live at The Troubadour” because of the stellar sound.
El Rey Theatre
5515 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036
The historic El Rey theater was built in 1936 and was originally a one movie movie house for its first 50 years. But in 1994 it was transformed into a music venue where it continues to rock audiences of all kinds to this day. From bands like The Ives, The Mavericks, The Edges and Savages, El Rey is a big supporter of new to the scene and up and coming artist. With a capacity of 771 that’s mostly standing room (there’s a VIP balcony lounge and some booths) it’s perfectly intimate for both the crowd and the performer. It also hosts DJ dance parties, movie viewings and is available for private events. Some of the more famous to perform have been Prince, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Daft Punk.
1822 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
The Echo and its downstairs counterpart the Echoplex are famous for hosting the kind of up and coming talent that actually goes on to make it big. As supporters of indie music, The Echo has helped launch bands like Foster the People, War Paint and The Airborne Toxic Event into stardom. Filter Magazine named put it in the top 5 music venues in LA. But it’s not just a home to local bands. Many big names like Beck, Green Day, Incubus and even the Rolling Stones prefer the intimacy this place offers.
1717 Silver Lake Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Strong drinks and great music are just two reasons why The Satellite is Silver Lake’s hottest venue for bands, DJ dance parties and pretty much everything else. Drink specials, a pool table, photobooth and cheap cover charge (if not free) are a few other draws, but those are just bonuses. Unknown bands like the Foo Fighters, Beck and the Silversun Pickups have all paid their dues on the stage at The Satellite before they made it big. But that’s one of the great things about this venue, you never know who’s on their way up and you could be seeing greatness in the making.
Kristine G. Bottone is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. Her work can be found at Examiner.com