San Francisco’s roots in music history run deep. From helping create iconic groups like the Grateful Dead to providing a haven for artists from all walks of life, the art-driven spot has housed some of the best music venues in all of California, with most still open to this day. The following are the top five places to see live music in San Francisco.
The Great American Music Hall
Famous for being the city’s longest-running music hall after opening its doors in 1906, The Great American Music Hall is one of the best places to see live music in San Francisco. The forum offers an elegant, picturesque venue featuring a standing room, seats and two full bars. The hall was featured in Rolling Stone in its feature “Venues That Rock,” naming the spot as the sixth-best venue in the country. The Great American Music Hall features artists from all music genres, including rock, folk, hip-hop, jazz and the occasional comedic act. The lineup spotlights big names in addition to local artists at the intimate music hall. To learn more about The Great American Music Hall, visit gamh.com.
Bottom of the Hill
Located just off 17th Street, Bottom of the Hill is a venue/club featuring up-and-coming artists and acts from San Francisco’s backyard. The spot is 21-plus only and the live music venue in San Francisco has been voted the “Best Rock Club” by media outlets like Rolling Stone and The Guardian for many years. The venue plays everything from alternative styles like rock and punk to lighter sounds like pop and has featured significant artists like Korn, Oasis and Beastie Boys. Bottom of the Hill features a full bar, late-night kitchen and an outdoor patio where guests can escape the crowd. To learn more about Bottom of the Hill, visit bottomofthehill.com.
The Warfield Theatre
A local staple venue, The Warfield Theatre has been providing its visitors with a-rockin’ good time for 86 years. The spot holds 2,250 guests and was initially used as a theater, featuring an overhead mezzanine and seating. The site switched to a music venue after its claim-to-fame two-week show run featuring the incredible Bob Dylan and is now known as one of the best places to see live music in the city to date. Though smaller than most, the forum has held significant headliners like Nirvana and The Killers and currently has artists like Black Midi, Puscifer and The Flaming Lips slated for shows later in the year. To learn more about The Warfield Theatre, visit thewarfieldtheatre.com.
A vintage eclectic spot, Club Deluxe is reminiscent of an old-time New York-style jazz house, where even the concert-goers are dressed head-to-toe in vintage attire; the booths are vinyl, and the martinis are dry. The club showcases local jazz artists while visitors sip handcrafted cocktails in an intimate, red-lit room. Each night the venue features two artists from the genres of jazz, swing and blues, in addition to the occasional burlesque and comedy show. To learn more about Club Deluxe, visit clubdeluxe.co.
Initially used as a mortuary in 1914, The Chapel is an award-winning music venue located in the heart of the Mission District that has grown to be one of the best places to see live music in San Francisco. The intimate spot showcases artists from all music styles, though it primarily focuses on folk, jazz and alternative music. The venue is stunning, with 40-ft.-high arched ceilings and an overhead mezzanine. In addition to its main standing room, The Chapel also houses Curio Bar onsite, serving up handcrafted cocktails and scratch food. To learn more about The Chapel, visit thechapelsf.com.