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Best Bay Area Music Venues For Every Taste

Best Bay Area Music Venues For Every Taste

The Bay Area is a rich cultural hub with many fantastic Bay Area music venues that accommodate a wide variety of genres.

Mateos Glen Hayes


4 min read

August 09, 2023

While it may not be the main quality you consider when choosing a live music venue, appearance does matter a lot more than some may think. So while you shouldn’t necessarily choose a live music venue just based on how beautiful it is, it’s good to remember that atmosphere counts. After all, watching your favorite artist blow the roof off the place will be an even cooler experience if the performance is in a gorgeous art deco palace or a historic Hellenic-style amphitheater. From the scenic Shoreline Theater in Mountian View to the majestic Filmore in downtown San Francisco, here are the best Bay Area music venues for all kinds of music genres. 

UC Theater - Berkeley 

Location: 2036 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704

Typical Prices: $40

With its high ceilings and opulent movie palace aesthetics, the UC Theater is a wonderfully unique place to take in a live performance of your favorite artists.  Although named after the nearby University of California, Berkeley, the UC Theater does not have any direct connection to the university beyond being nearby its campus. Starting life as a movie palace in 1917, this historic theater in downtown Berkeley has worn many hats and passed through many owners. It was once a theater that played the latest motion picture hits, then later a revival theater that screened classics from the Golden Age of Hollywood’s silver screen productions. The theater was closed in 2001 after years of declining revenues but was then revived in 2016 as a live music hall after a thorough renovation. Today the theater serves as a popular venue for live acts of all kinds and has hosted sold-out shows by famous artists including Green Day, Gary Numan, and international rock acts such as Nightwish. A hint from us, if you’re a fan of punk or heavy metal, keep an eye out on the UC Theater’s calendar. They are often host to some fantastic bands.

Take in the best of Oakland’s local jazz scene at Yoshi’s, the best jazz club in East Bay.

Yoshi’s - Oakland 

Location: 510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, CA 94607

Typical Prices: $50+

World renown as one of the world’s most respected jazz clubs, Yoshi’s is easily one of the best places in California to enjoy dinner and a show. Yoshi offers skillfully prepared Japanese seasonal cuisine paired with a convivial atmosphere and live performances from local artists. In other words, it has all the right ingredients for a nice evening out on the town in East Bay. Although it started in 1972 as a humble 27-seat restaurant, Yoshi’s is today a high-end resto-bar and jazz club with hundreds of seats and no shortage of fresh new acts every single night. Yoshi’s also plays host to several other shows as well including R&B, comedy, rock, and soul. 

Bottom of the Hill - San Francisco 

Location: 1233 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

Typical Prices: $15-$20

So named for being located at the bottom of Potrero Hill, Bottom of the Hill is one of The City’s most storied venues and a prime spot for live rock music to this day. The Bottom started in 1991 and quickly gained praise and popularity for its star acts, great ambiance, and it’s hardworking staff. The Bottom is open seven nights a week and is always presenting a variety of bands, from new talent to established artists. In addition to rock, The Bottom has also become a hub for alternative, folk rock, punk, and hard-rock acts. That means there’s a little bit of something for everyone at this live music venue and there’s always something new to experience at the Bottom of the Hill. It’s also worth noting that the Bottom also has a restaurant with a kitchen that stays open until 8:30 p.m., perfect for a late-night show and a meal to boot. 

Experience the best in UC Berkeley’s classical music talent at the Hellenic-inspired Greek Theater at UC Berkeley’s verdant campus.

Greek Theatre - Berkeley 

Location: Hearst Greek Theater, 2001 Gayley Road, Berkeley, CA 94720

Typical Prices: $40-$80

Also known as the Hearst Theatre, this 8,500-seat theatre owned and operated by UC Berkeley is truly something else. The theatre is quite the historic site as it has been host to an amphitheater since 1894 and was rebuilt in 1904 in the iconic Greek Revival style.  As a classy Hellenic amphitheater on UC Berkeley’s verdant campus, the Greek Theater has played host to countless famous artists and even famous speakers including President Theodore Roosevelt, the Dalai Lama, and Bishop Desmond Tutu. The Greek Theater continues to play a central role in artistic life at UC Berkeley and hosts many classical music acts, theater plays, alternative, and pop music artists.   

Shoreline Theater - Mountain View

Location: One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043

Typical Prices: $29 to $650

The Shoreline Theater is one of California’s other famous amphitheaters and is a go-to venue for very large events. With a maximum capacity of 30,000, this is the place of choice for megastars including big names such as Smashing Pumpkins, Post Malone, Travis Scott, Lil Wayne, and many more. In the past, it has been the venue for multiple famous music festivals including Lollapalooza and Ozzfest. In addition to being a cool massive outdoor space perfect for out-loud rock concerts and raves, this amphitheater is also renowned for having great acoustics, making it perfect for big-ticket live performances. Just be aware driving there can be tough while dealing with traffic and parking.

The Shoreline Amphitheater is one of the most prominent venues in the Bay Area, attracting many large groups.

Concord Pavilion - Concord 

Location: 2000 Kirker Pass Road, Concord, CA 94521

Typical Prices: $40-$100

Modernized by the legendary Frank Gehry, Concord Pavilion is a major live venue that regularly draws big names like Sting, Snoop Dogg, Mastodon, Jill Scott, and plenty more. As part of its modernization, the pavilion has kept up with the times and features cashless concessions, mobile ordering, and a top-of-the-line sound system. Concord Pavilion is also well maintained by the city and is known for having a high standard of cleanliness. Although the pavilion isn’t necessarily in the heart of Concord itself, a shuttle is available during events to take concert-goers from the Concord BART station to the amphitheater.    

The Filmore - San Francisco 

Location: 1805 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94115 

Typical Prices: $35 

Built in 1912 as the Majestic Hall and Academy of Dancing, the stately Filmore music venue sits in the historic Western Addition neighborhood of San Francisco. As with many historic theaters in the City by the Bay, The Filmore has played multiple different roles as a roller skating rink, a center for psychedelic music and the counterculture, an avant-garde theater venue, and now a vaunted live performance hall. The hall is decked out in gorgeous chandeliers, classic viewing booths, and a swanky auditorium equipped with a high-end lighting system and graced with wonderful acoustics. It features all sorts of music, so music fans will commonly be returning to The Filmore for a show.  All these qualities make The Filmore a great historic venue for experiencing your favorite artists.

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