El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.
No matter how obscure your musical preferences, you can find your groove in one of the diverse Los Angeles live-music venues. Here are our top 20 Los Angeles live-music music destinations, in no particular order.
By Katie McCarthy
There might not be any concert-going experience so quintessentially L.A. as a night at the Hollywood Bowl. Whether the evening’s program includes a headlining rock band or the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Playboy Jazz Festival or the KCRW World Festival, the Bowl becomes a gathering place hours before showtime when attendees swarm the grounds for picnicking. 2301 N. Highland Ave., Hollywood, 323.850.2000. HollywoodBowl.com
EL REY THEATRE
A stone’s throw from Museum Row on the Miracle Mile, the art deco El Rey Theatre is a stunner, from its nostalgic neon signage to the grand chandelier-lighted ballroom. El Rey has a knack for booking artists on the cusp of mainstream stardom, giving fans the chance to see artists such as Lana Del Rey in a relatively small setting before they graduate to bigger venues. 5515 Wilshire Blvd., L.A.,323.936.6400. theelrey.com
VIBRATO GRILL JAZZ
Herb Alpert’s Bel Air supper club projects the kind of retro classiness that might fool you into thinking it’s been here for decades. Live jazz performances, Tuesday through Sunday, are accompanied by an upscale American menu of steaks, seafood and nostalgic sides such as creamed spinach. More famous performers may mean a nominal cover charge. 2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel Air,310.474.9400. vibratogrilljazz.com
When the Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber-types of the music industry perform in Los Angeles, they do it at the Staples Center downtown, one of the biggest arenas in town with 20,000 seats. And if your ideal concert includes pyrotechnics, costume changes, dancers and/or earth-shaking volume, you won’t be disappointed if you buy a ticket to a show here. 1111 S. Figueroa St., downtown,213.742.7326. staplescenter.com
The erstwhile Spaceland in Silver Lake has begun a second act as the Satellite. Despite the name change, this dive is still a fixture of the Eastside music community. (It helped launch the careers of Elliott Smith and Beck, among others.) The Satellite books acts popular with the Pitchfork-reading set, such as Magic Wands and Gauntlet Hair. (Most shows are for patrons 21 and older.) 1717 Silverlake Blvd., Silver Lake, 323.661.4380.thesatellitela.com
Named for its cross streets, Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, the Wiltern was built in the glamorous art deco style, and headliners such as Wilco and the White Stripes’ Jack White stop here. Vertically challenged concertgoers appreciate the balcony seating and multiple levels of standing room, making a view of the stage possible even from the back of the theater. 3790 Wilshire Blvd., L.A., 213.388.1400. livenation.com
LARGO AT THE CORONET
Largo at the Coronet in midtown has a charmingly informal vibe; it only recently began to offer a formal ticketing system. Certain local performers treat the Largo as their second home; Jon Brion plays monthly, occasionally bringing collaborator Fiona Apple with him. Comedians such as Russell Brand appear frequently, too. 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A., 310.855.0350. largo-la.com
THE ORPHEUM THEATRE
In the mid-20th century, the Broadway Theater District downtown boasted the grandest movie palaces in the city. One of the few that have been restored is the Orpheum. The theater’s Wurlitzer pipe organ is still operational, but these days you’re more likely to find entertainment in the form of film screenings or pop concerts. 842 S. Broadway, downtown, 877.677.4386. laorpheum.com
When the Hollywood Palladium opened its doors, the first act to appear was Frank Sinatra; it reopened in 2008 with a Jay-Z show. Music trends may have changed in the past 50 years, but the Palladium’s retro-glam good looks and ability to attract top-notch performers haven’t. 6215 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323.962.7600. livenation.com
For house-music aficionados, Avalon Hollywood is dance and DJ central Thursday through Saturday. Upstairs from the main venue is Bardot, a hip French-inspired bar and lounge with its own free shows featuring DJs and rock bands. Monday’s regular “School Night” is a winner; recent performers have included A Fine Frenzy and Kimbra. 1735 N. Vine St., Hollywood, 323.462.8900.avalonhollywood.com
WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL
L.A.’s most iconic music hall opened in 2003, its design (by architect Frank Gehry) inspired by a sailing ship, and its acoustics nonpareil. It’s a fitting home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic, one of the most innovative orchestras in the world. The hall is also used for pop and rock concerts to inspiring effect; past collaborations have included Death Cab for Cutie sharing the stage with members from Magik*Magik Orchestra. 111 S. Grand Ave., downtown, 323.850.2000. laphil.com
HOUSE OF BLUES
The House of Blues isn’t unique to Los Angeles County, but West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip music scene wouldn’t be the same without this faux-ramshackle venue. One night might bring a head-banging metal band, followed by a rafter-raising Gospel Brunch the next morning. 8430 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 323.848.5100.houseofblues.com
If the mammoth Staples Center at the L.A. Live entertainment center downtown doesn’t appeal, look to Club Nokia a few steps away—comparatively tiny with its 2,300-person capacity, but with similar pop-radio players you’d see at Staples. Three bars and a sleek lounge create inviting environments to cool your heels between sets. 800 W. Olympic Blvd., downtown, 213.765.7000.clubnokia.com
Myriad musicians have recorded live albums at the Troubadour—including three who named their albums Live at the Troubadour. It’s a favorite stop for musicians who live in L.A. and even those who don’t; arena headliners such as as Prince and Coldplay have come here to preview new material. Small enough to lend intimacy to the ballads of a singer-songwriter, but big enough for a raucous rock show, the Troubadour is a treasure. 9081 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, 877.435.9849. troubadour.com
THE ECHO / ECHOPLEX
The Echo and its downstairs counterpart, Echoplex, compete with the Satellite to book the hottest super-indie bands of the moment. Hipsters abound, but they’re not too cool to dance at the regular “Bootie L.A.” nights, featuring DJs spinning rock and pop mash-ups. 1822 Sunset Blvd.; 1154 Glendale Blvd., Silver Lake. 213.413.8200.attheecho.com
CANTER’S KIBITZ ROOM
Like your matzo ball soup with a side of indie rock? Then visit the music lounge attached to 80-year-old Canter’s Deli, the Kibitz Room—the divey-est, strangest little club and bar in town. It has a history with rock ‘n’ roll royalty: The Doors, Frank Zappa and Joni Mitchell kibbitzed and jammed here. These days, neighborhood bands and karaoke nights are the main attractions. 419 N. Fairfax Ave., L.A., 323.651.2030. cantersdeli.com
The Greek Theatre has many of the Hollywood Bowl’s stellar qualities: an outdoor amphitheatre with excellent natural acoustics in a beautiful setting. The Greek’s size (fewer than 6,000 seats) is far from overwhelming, and amid the towering pine trees of Griffith Park, the venue is even a little romantic. 2700 N. Vermont Ave., Griffith Park, 323.665.5857. greektheatrela.com
The flailing music industry hasn’t seemed to affect Amoeba Music, the independent record store in Hollywood where you can find gaggles of scenesters picking through rare vinyl from morning to night. A stage in the back of the store hosts free concerts from nationally known acts (Otis Clay and the aforementioned Lana Del Rey) as well as some local musicians and DJs on the rise. 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 323.245.6400. amoeba.com
“Intimate” is the word at Harvelle’s, downtown Santa Monica’s gem of a jazz club. In a petite, narrow space with a bar and a smattering of tables, jazz, blues and soul bands play to respectfully hushed crowds. Another branch of Harvelle’s opened last year in Long Beach. 1432 4th St., Santa Monica, 310.395.1676; 201 E. Broadway, Long Beach, 562.239.3700. harvelles.com
Every L.A. singer-songwriter worth mentioning has probably paid her dues playing at Hotel Cafe in Hollywood. Although it helps to do your research about the performers, many play here so regularly that if you do stumble upon a local favorite, chances are he may just be back within the week. Rachael Yamagata played here in her early solo career. (Note: All shows are for people 21 and older.) 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, 323.461.2040. hotelcafe.com
The Daily Beast: How to Argue at Christmas. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwlryjzg4
The Victory Variety Hour Burlesque Show
@ Skinnys Lounge
This was my second time attending the sensual and delightfully risque show. And to let you know right up front, these ladies have dangerous curves, tattoos, and plenty of sassiness!
The lovely and gracious Penny Starr Jr. leads this talented sexy group. Gary Shapiro is the show’s MC. His rapid fire humor often caught me off guard, but the shock to my system never failed to produce true laughter.
Personal pride and professionalism showed the love and dedication each and every performer had for their presentation.
A personal highlight for me was Catfish. His down and dirty blues harmonica playing had my foot tapping and the crowd clapping along in time.
I must mention one other standout performance..Mercury Troy. I cannot describe it..but what she did..left me haunted. THANK YOU!
So if you want beautiful women, great music and original comedy..go see The Victory Variety Hour’s show!!! I look forward to the next experience!
Victory Variety Hour website – http://www.victoryvarietyhour.com/About.html
Victory Variety Hour on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/49768869794/
Catfish website – http://www.facebook.com/losangeles.catfish
Skinny’s Lounge – http://skinnyslounge.com/
Shutter To Think Photography – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Shutter-To-Think-Photography/522429184443391?ref=hl