The Best Music Venues for Concerts in San Francisco

With venues playing just about anything you can imagine and music festivals that draw world-famous acts, San Francisco’s got the music.

Hear that? It’s the sound of a thriving music scene in San Francisco. With diverse musical genres playing at interesting spaces throughout the city, you’ll never be lost for a little live music. Here, you can just as easily get down to an internationally renowned DJ as you can join in on a jazzy jam session over a craft cocktail. With venues playing just about anything you can imagine and music festivals that draw world-famous acts, San Francisco’s got the music. Don’t expect this city to turn it down anytime soon.

SF Jazz Center

Jazz in San Francisco

With more than 300 performances every year, the SF Jazz Center is the nation’s first stand-alone building constructed specifically for jazz. It’s a hub for the blossoming community of jazz lovers in the city. Mr. Tipple’s Recording Studio is more of an underground jazz club located in Mid-Market, with craft cocktails and small bites that pair perfectly with evening jam sessions. If variety is what you’re looking for, head to Feinstein’s at the Nikko for jazz, R&B, cabaret or drag performances. Club Deluxe is the most intimate and casual jazz spot in town, and it’s serves up $10 pizza.

San Francisco Symphony

Classical Music in San Francisco

The world-renowned San Francisco Symphony performs at Hayes Valley’s Davies Symphony Hall, which has served as a cultural landmark since 1911. Some of the most famous conductors and composers in classical music have performed here. The San Francisco Conservatory of Music is a professional school for classical music that hosts a number of student shows, many of which are free to attend. And with only 299 seats, the new Dianne and Tad Taube Atrium Theater is an intimate space designed for experimental musical projects from the San Francisco Opera.

The Mountain Goats at the Swedish American Music Hall

Alternative Music in San Francisco

The Swedish American Music Hall reopened last year after major renovations and is now a stunning venue for some of the most interesting alternative bands in the city. As one of the most popular venues in the city, The Independent showcases some of today’s hottest indie bands with the perfect sound and light accompaniments to make every show unforgettable. And don’t miss an act at The Fillmore, which stands out among San Francisco’s most legendary music venues. Its stage was a launching pad for The Grateful Dead and others during the 1960s, the golden era of music in San Francisco.

The Chapel

Local Bands in San Francisco

Smaller venues are bringing in fresh, local talent. Potrero Hill’s Bottom of the Hill has become a citywide icon that features local artists and original acts from around the world, who play everything from hard rock to funk. Hotel Utah Saloon is housed in an early 20th century building in San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood. This part-bar, part-music-club brings in a variety of acts, including bluegrass, rock and alternative. And for a truly unique setting, The Chapel is a 1914 mortuary and sanctuary reborn as an acoustic-friendly music venue that features vaulted ceilings and an eclectic array of bands.

Cafe Du Nord

Lounge Music in San Francisco

The casual atmosphere of Castro’s Cafe du Nord will have you munching on delicious late night bites, sipping craft cocktails and tapping your toes (or joining in an amateur jam session) until the wee hours. Local Edition is a newspaper-themed bar beneath the Hearst building on Market Street featuring live jazz and swing music every Monday through Wednesday. Or if you’re in the mood for a down-home community vibe, Revolution Cafe has live music every night of the week, in addition to beer, wine and the warmth of a neighborhood hangout.

Temple Nightclub

Dance Music in San Francisco

San Francisco’s SoMa dance club scene is serious about sound. For an unparalleled experience, Audio should be your No. 1 stop. The walls inside are recording-studio-quality and have been designed to absorb background reverberations, leaving nothing but most crisp, clear sounds. DJs here play plenty of underground house, techno and nu-disco. Four dance floors and two stages make neighboring DNA Lounge the place to be for late-night dancing, private parties and burlesque shows. And Temple’s state-of-the-art sound system pumps EDM dance beats while guests can choose among its multiple levels to get the club experience they’re looking for.

Chelsea Iversen
About the author