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The Best Concert Venues in San Francisco

Jeff Howard September 17, 2019

While the newly opened Chase Center has received plenty of attention, San Francisco’s iconic music venues have attracted top-rate musicians since the early 20th century. The City’s progressive and welcoming nature has always appealed to artists from many backgrounds, and this continues in current times. As SF stays at the forefront of innovation, there will always be a plethora of creative and enlightened individuals that call San Francisco home. Let’s explore the best concert venues in San Francisco and the many local housing options within each neighborhood.

The Warfield

 

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Multiple iconic concert venues in San Francisco are positioned around the Mid-Market/Civic Center neighborhood. Because of the nearby BART, SFMTA, and even Cable Car stops, this is a central gathering point in The City. One of the most well-known concert sites is just across Taylor Street from the Golden Gate Theatre. The 2,300 seat Warfield opened in 1922 and has featured world-famous acts such as Louis Armstrong, Grateful Dead, Guns N’ Roses, Slayer, Green Day, and countless others. The Warfield is just two blocks from Trinity Place and the Civic Center.

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

 

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The 8,500 seat Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was previously the premier location for large SF shows before the recent completion of the Chase Center. The Civic Auditorium, which was renamed after rock promoter Bill Graham in the ’90s, was also the original home of the “San Francisco Warriors” before moving to Daly City’s Cow Palace. Aside from sports and political conventions, the auditorium has hosted musical acts such as Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, and The Temptations. The historic Civic Auditorium is only a few steps from the 1188 Mission, 1190 Mission, and 33 8th apartments; making for an easy but fantastic night out for Trinity Place residents. Upcoming shows include ZEDD, Tyler, The Creator, Vampire Weekend, and Lizzo.

MEZZANINE

 

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Another great option just off Market Street near the Powell Street Station is MEZZANINE. This lively and raucous live music venue hosts “performances that span all genres – from Indie-rock to R&B, Nu-disco to New Orleans Brass.” The 21+ venue has no shortage of great upcoming acts that are viewable on their site.

Great American Music Hall

 

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Straight across O’Farrell Street from the Trinity Towers apartments lies the historic yet still active Great American Music Hall. The hall was established in 1907 during the rebuilding period of San Francisco that occurred following the 1906 Earthquake.  It can also be noted that Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead debuted and recorded a live album with Legion of Mary, his jazz-influenced rock band in 1974, and again later with the Jerry Garcia Band and for The Grateful Dead’s album One from the Vault. This cozy venue can fit less than 500 people, but it is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a show in San Francisco due to its convenient location near Civic Center.

Slim’s

 

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The Great American Music Hall’s “sister nightclub” Slim’s, is located in SoMa on 11th street. Slim’s has “hosted some of the world’s greatest acts on their way to world-fame, like Radiohead, Green Day, and The Black Keys, and continues to welcome rising newcomers to the stage every week.” The venue opened in 1988 by renowned R&B artist Boz Scaggs and offers a great selection of food and drinks to enjoy with the entertainment on stage.

SFJAZZ Center

 

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One of San Francisco’s newest concert venues, The 36,000-square-foot, $64 million SFJAZZ Center, opened its doors in early 2013. This stunning and state-of-the-art club is positioned within the heart of San Francisco’s cultural corridor in Hayes Valley a short walk from the Civic Center. Check out their packed calendar to learn more about their upcoming lineup of live jazz performances!

August Hall

 

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Union Square’s August Hall hosts an array of tremendous acts all year round in their unique yet gorgeous event spaces. “Live music and entertainment with special events, three full bars, and food by Fifth Arrow. August Hall has been built to be a flexible, multidisciplinary event space with a design that pays homage to the great history of the building.” August Hall’s spaces include a music hall, cocktail room, and gaming parlor complete with three bowling lanes!

The Regency Ballroom

 

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Built in 1909 as a Scottish Rite Temple, The Regency Ballroom has become one of the best small venues for performances in San Francisco. Positioned in the Polk Gulch/Van Ness area of the city, this venue is walking distance from both Trinity Towers and Clay Park Tower. The 1,400 seat ballroom is renowned for its impressive architecture and ties to its heritage as a former masonic lodge.

The Fillmore

 

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Jimi Hendrix, Santana, The Who, Pink Floyd, Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, Miles Davis, and Otis Redding have all played here… to name a few. The world-renowned Fillmore hosts well-known artists nightly who are honored to perform at such a historic location. Any resident of nearby Pacific Heights, such as the 2000 Broadway or 1890 Clay apartments, is highly recommended to stroll over to this famous venue.

Bimbo’s 365 Club

 

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Another modest, yet historic venue to visit is Bimbo’s 365 Club in North Beach. Although the dinner-style theatre seats less than 500 guests, the club has seen shows by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Neil Diamond, and Adele among many other musical performers and comedy acts. The club’s location along Columbus and Chestnut is filled with trendy restaurants and bars around the corner from both the 1000 Chestnut and Crystal Tower apartments.

Rickshaw Stop

 

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The 4,000 square foot Rickshaw Stop is a former TV studio with great food and a full bar available for shows. This Hayes Valley venue is located just around the corner from SFJAZZ but typically hosts rock, punk, and pop shows. Just a short trip from the Civic Center, the Rickshaw stop is another fantastic option for residents of Trinity Towers or Trinity Place.

Brick & Mortar Music Hall

 

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One more great venue in the area is Brick & Mortar Music Hall on Mission Street. This wide-ranging music venue is between the popular Mission and SoMa neighborhoods a few blocks from the 16th St. Mission  Station.

The Chapel

 

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The Mission is also home to another great music venue in The Chapel on Valencia Street. Just a few blocks from Mission Dolores Park and the lovely 240 Dolores apartments, The Chapel is the ultimate music venue for a night out in The Mission District. Enjoy great music with a wonderful selection of food and craft cocktails.

SF Masonic

 

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Nob Hill’s most notable venue is the SF Masonic Auditorium.  It formerly served as the meeting place for the Masons of California and as a concert venue for the remainder of the year. Freemasonry was popular in Northern California mining towns following the Gold Rush of 1849 and can be seen in the architecture of the vast 3,480 seat auditorium. The SF Masonic hosts a packed calendar of music, comedy, and other events in this historic building nightly.

Swedish American Music Hall

 

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The Swedish American Music Hall on Market Street was built in 1907 following the earthquake and is known as the neighborhood’s first concert venue. Built for the Swedish Society of San Francisco in the Castro/Mission area on upper Market Street, The Swedish American Hall hosts shows and concerts at its multiple venues daily. Check out the SAH calendar to see what is upcoming at this intimate but excellent music venue!

The Independent

 

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Last but certainly not least, The Independent has long-since been the most popular spot in Western Addition to enjoy a concert. Just a couple blocks from Alamo Square on Divisadero, The Independent hosts packed shows each night at its 21+, general admission venue.

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