The Live Experience
The Bay's best venues & restaurants for live music
Cafe Stritch, Downtown San Jose, CA
This jem of San Jose is located in the heart of downtown, and is a hot spot for jazz musicians and well-established ensembles for live music. With a full menu of delicious Southern comfort food, they also serve cocktails, beer and wine. The cozy feel of Cafe Stritch offers a welcoming vibe. Large windows revealing outside dining and balcony seating allows this popular venue to welcomes many guests. Its brick interior and dimly lit seating area gives off the energy that the audience is completely immersed in the music. Some nights, it is an "open jam" to the public. Various musicians rotate on and off stage, showcasing their best solos, causing sudden cheers from the crowd for their raw talent and joy of the spontaneity. This is a night out you don't want to miss.
Photo: Richard Scheinin, Mercury News
Angelica's Bistro, Redwood City, CA
If you are looking for a live music experience that exudes a sophisticated and classy feel, Angelica's Bistro in downtown Redwood City is the place you want to be. As you walk through the courtyard to enter, you feel as though you've entered a cozy alley in Europe, welcomed by charming landscape and outdoor seating. Enter through the sparkling dining area and bar, and eventually we enter the live performance venue, filled with tables that overlook a full stage. Angelica's Bistro has grown to be one of the Peninsula's favorite venues among residents. Not only do they showcase some of the best music in the Bay Area, but they regularly host open mics, comedic stand ups, and song writing contests. The unique flare to this bistro is their backyard. A beautiful wooden stage overlooks outdoor seating, nestled between heaters and delicate garden beds for a cozy night enjoying the performance.
Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco, CA
Locals know and love it, and visitors want to experience it. For 25 years, this venue has been thriving on the energy of both up and coming fresh artists as well as established bands. From hip hop bands to acoustic sets to indie rock, the Bottom of the Hill gives locals a reason to keep coming back. With a full bar and happy hours specials, it's also a local watering hole, small enough to attract regulars and meetups. Walking in, the stage is upfront and center, with an intimate space for audiences to enjoy the music. Make your way towards the back, and communal seating is available inside the venue as well as a backyard patio. By keeping the rotation of various artists playing live shows, The Botttom of Hill won't disappoint in delivering exceptional performances.
The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA
Tucked in the creative downtown of Santa Cruz, this club has been a well-known hot spot for live music. One of the many reasons people love the Catalyst is the draw it brings visitors to the artistic realm of Santa Cruz County. Before the show, enjoy a walk on the beach or a quick drink at a cozy lounge anywhere on Pacific Ave. The Catalyst beckons different audiences to enjoy a variety of music genres. From local artists with an easy-going sound, to rowdy dub step filled raves. The Catalyst offers the audience an intimate experience, so don't be fooled by the large venue size. There is something personal about the space itself, and leaves room for plenty of great views to the stage. Balcony standing room allows for a closer look at the artists on stage. A full service bar and light food keep late-comers happy. This is one South Bay destination you will want to rock out at.
Club Fox Theater, Redwood City, CA
This fairly new venue has been already made quite a name for itself in the Redwood City community. As an extension of the well-known Fox Theater, this club offers an intimate yet large scale venue that holds various live music bands and events. With a full bar, spacious dance floor, table seating and balcony seating, customers are never bored at this hot spot. Club Fox's old style features and atmosphere get onlooker's attention and keep people coming back for a timelapse of an experience with each live performance.
Piano Fight, San Francisco, CA
For a live performance in SF any night of the week hit up Piano Fight in the Tenderloin. With two theatres and a cabaret stage, there is something for everyone. Piano Fight hosts a range of acts that include comedy, plays, improv, music, variety shows, drag, film screenings---the list goes on. Located at 144 Taylor Street it's steps away from Powell Bart and an all-ages venue. Piano Fight serves new American bites and offers a full bar to 21+ guests. Piano Fight boasts it's own house team that puts on side-splitting performances such as "Missed Connections", an improv that's based off a Craigslist missed connection picked by the audience. Local artists are encouraged to inquire within to book their next show at Piano Fight. Without out a doubt, it's one of our favorite venues to explore new artists.
Photo: Jean Schiffman
Cafe Du Nord, San Francisco, CA
Nestled in the bustling and cozy neighborhood between the Castro & Lower Haight lies Cafe Du Nord. To the outside eye, it can fool you by its appearance, but this venue is a jem. You can find many talented musicians here, giving an intimate performance from the small stage. Walking down the entrance stairs, you're greeted with a full bar, open for food at certain times, and large dance floor. This hub has become a favorite amongst indie bands and young artists making their way in the live music scene. Originally part of The Swedish American Hall, this venue is a subset of the 1907 landmark and is underground, giving audiences a feeling of escape from the hustle of San Francisco, immersed by the show. Check out their show listings easily through on their website.
Slims, San Francisco, CA