13 Great Places to Catch a Show in San Francisco

The best music venues in the city, from The Warfield to Rickshaw Stop

Many of San Francisco's music venues have become as iconic as the artists they've hosted. Here are some of the places where music history is made.

Classics


The Fillmore, probably the city's best-known venue, was a cultural hub in the 1960s, launching the careers of legendary acts like The Grateful Dead, Santana and Janis Joplin. Built in 1907, The Great American Music Hall is the city's oldest nightclub, famous for its ornate balconies, marble columns and frescoes. The Warfield has been a San Francisco institution for nearly a century. Originally a vaudeville and movie palace, it became a concert hall in 1979 when Bob Dylan performed a two-week run of shows. The 2,250-person venue continues to host many of the biggest names to come through the city. Slim's is one of SF’s younger standbys. Opened in 1988 by Boz Scaggs, the intimate, no-thrills space has hosted countless big names like Radiohead and Prince.


Local Haunts


Since its opening in 2004, The Independent has become a local mainstay famous for its intimate, 500-person setting and state-of-the-art sound. The venue is located in the emerging NoPa neighborhood, which means there are plenty of food options for before or after the show. The newest music venue to hit the Mission District is The Chapel, which occupies an historic 1914 building and features emerging indie bands. Rickshaw Stop, known for its quaint atmosphere complete with vintage rickshaws, is housed in a former TV studio and hosts mostly up-and-coming acts. 

Jazz Clubs


Opened last year, SFJazz Center (the first venue in the country built specifically for jazz) is the premier destination for the genre in the city. In the city's historic jazz neighborhood, Yoshi's keeps the tradition alive with big-name jazz and R&B acts and is also known for its upscale, Michelin-rated Japanese restaurant. For a more intimate experience, Club Deluxe on Haight Street hosts a variety of local acts that can be enjoyed along with a great selection of wood-fired pizzas and cocktails.
 

Beyond the City

Oakland's beautifully restored Art Deco palace, The Fox Theater is one of the Bay Area's most famous venues. The Greek Theatre in Berkeley is the Bay Area's best outdoor venue—it was modeled after the ancient Greek theater of Epidaurus and has fantastic views of the Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline. Originally a neighborhood hangout for 1960s rock icons, Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley was saved by investors like Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead who used to play at the classic spot. 

Gallery: The San Francisco Bay Area's Best Music Venues

Zachary Clark
About the author