Dive Into the Music Scene With These Venues
San Francisco may not have invented music, but we did produce plenty of musicians who made music what it is today. The city is full of places to check out a show. You can get as highbrow (or as lowbrow) as you want in the town that brought you both Herbert Blomstedt and Jefferson Airplane. Since the weather is mild in San Francisco year-round, you can also see a show outside. Here are our picks for rocking music venues.
The Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd.)
Opened by Bill Graham in 1968, the Fillmore is where many famous musicians got their start, including the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Santana. You can still see some of the hottest acts in music here today.
Getting there: Take the Muni 22 Fillmore bus or the 38 Geary bus to the intersection of Fillmore Street and Geary Boulevard.
SFJAZZ Center (201 Franklin St.)
Jazz isn’t the only attraction at this three-story Mark Cavagnero building. In fact, the contemporary architecture gives the music a run for its money. Here, you can check out major jazz acts in the main auditorium or small and intimate trios in the café. They even offer musical samplings that sneak away from the realm of jazz.
Getting there: Take the F streetcar on Market Street to Van Ness Avenue, or any number of Muni bus lines to the same intersection.
The Chapel (777 Valencia St.)
Built in 1914 as a mortuary, the Chapel has been transformed into a hip space for live music. It still retains plenty of its old-world charm from its previous life; the vaulted ceilings are impressive with or without musical acts. Stop by the Chapel Bar beforehand for a quick libation before the show.
Getting there: Take BART to the 16th Street Mission Station.
The Warfield Theatre (982 Market St.)
Originally built as a vaudeville theater in 1922, the Warfield is a great spot to check out a major act. This 2,300-seat venue also invites famous comedians to grace the stage.
Getting there: Take Muni Metro or BART to Powell Street.
The Masonic (1111 California St.)
This tremendous venue hosts musical acts of all stripes. Located on top of Nob Hill, The Masonic has room for over 3,000 people, but we promise there isn’t a bad seat in the house.
Getting there: Take the California Street cable car and hop off at Mason Street.
Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall (201 Van Ness Ave.)
Home of the San Francisco Symphony, Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall is the perfect place to spend an upscale night. Founded in 1911, the symphony is one of the most famous in the nation. In addition to playing in the hall, they’re also known for playing at Stern Grove every summer and other outdoor venues.
Getting there: Take any Muni Metro line to the Van Ness or Civic Center stations, or any BART line to the Civic Center station.
War Memorial Opera House (301 Van Ness Ave.)
The sight of this Beaux Arts opera house is worth the trip alone! It’s even better once you step inside to be treated by some of the most impressive classically trained musicians in the world.
Getting there: Take the 47, 49 or 90 Muni buses to Van Ness Avenue.
Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St.)
If you’re more interested in checking out the hottest live bands in alternative and hip-hop, head to Bottom of the Hill. This music venue features up-and-coming artists who will soon be selling out shows in major venues. You can say you saw them when! Bottom of the Hill also serves backyard barbecue, like burgers and hotdogs.
Getting there: Take the Muni 22 Fillmore bus to 17th and Connecticut Streets.
Great American Music Hall (859 O’Farrell St.)
Check out some of the hottest names in music at the Great American Music Hall. In the baroque hall that was once graced by some of the biggest names in jazz (think Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie), you can see artists like Suzanne Vega and David Crosby.
Getting there: Take the Muni 38 Geary bus to Geary Boulevard and Powell Street.
Slim’s (333 11th St.)
Though it started as a venue for rhythm and blues, Slim’s has widened its range of musical styles in previous years. Started partly by Boz Scaggs, this 600-seat venue now hosts live music up to six nights a week. There’s no assigned seating, so get there early to snag a spot at the front of the line (and a table close to the stage).
Getting there: Take the Muni 9 San Bruno bus to Folsom and 11th Streets.