Music & Nightlife

Discover San Francisco’s best dance clubs and hottest music venues

Nightlife

San Francisco Halloween party guide

Unleash your wild side at a Halloween party packed with international DJs, cover bands or costumed karaoke fiends

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Where to see live music and concerts

The Warfield

Opened in 1922 as a vaudeville theater, the Warfield has operated in its current incarnation since the 1980s. The ornate room, which has a 1,800-seat balcony and an overall capacity for 2,300, retains its original splendor, though the venue now showcases a variety of musical genres. From titans of rock revisiting classic releases to the new wave of rap artists touching the stage for the first time, bookings are diverse but tend to stick to popular movements. Even the back balcony seats have good views of the stage in the well-designed space. Those lucky enough to get backstage may also get a glimpse of a portion of the underground speakeasy once operated by Al Capone, who had an office in the building.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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War Memorial Opera House

The SF Opera, inaugurated in 1923, is based in the War Memorial Opera House, a grand Beaux Arts building designed by City Hall architect Arthur Brown Jr. and built in 1932 as a memorial to the soldiers who fought in World War I. The 3,176-seat auditorium and cultural landmark is modeled on European opera houses, with a vaulted ceiling, a huge art deco metal chandelier and a marble foyer. An $84-million revamp in 1997 not only restored the elegant building (workers found clouds painted on the ceiling when they scraped away the grime), but installed up-to-date electronics and stage gear. The fall season runs early September to December; the summer season from May to July. In addition to opera, the venue provides a stage for the San Francisco Ballet, various concerts, lectures and special presentations.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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The Independent

There are no frills at this venerable black box apart from a stellar sound and light system—it's all about the music here. The Independent has always showcased a wide variety of sounds from self-made artists; the calendar is filled with a mix of touring rock, pop, metal, rap, jazz, Americana, jam and otherwise undefinable acts such as Madlib, Sunn 0))), the Boredoms, Fiery Furnaces, High on Fire and Lyrics Born. The lineups and genres are unpredictable and change from night to night, but you'll always have a prime view of the stage at this intimate 500-person venue.

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
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SFJAZZ Center

San Francisco finally got the jazz hub it deserves with the 2013 opening of this $64 million center, the first standalone venue in America built with the musical genre in mind. The SFJAZZ Center comes complete with state-of-the-art sound designed by Meyer Sound Laboratories and a rustic Mexican restaurant from acclaimed chef/restaurateur Charles Phan. Now SFJAZZ has an appropriately majestic headquarters for the annual music festival it has produced since 1983 as well as a home for world-class performances not only in the jazz realm, but also for global music in its many forms.

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
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More places to see live music and concerts
Music

The 30 most heart-pounding running songs

From thumping hip-hop beats to high-energy guitar jams, we’ve found the very best songs to keep you going in the gym or on the trail

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Music

The 20 best Halloween songs

Celebrate the year’s spookiest holiday with these essential creepy cuts

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Best nightlife in San Francisco

Nightlife

The best nightclubs in San Francisco

Where’s the party? Chances are at one of these reliably rocking nightclubs where top Bay Area and international DJs provide the beat

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Bars

The best bars in San Francisco

Bar hop with the ultimate list from artisanal cocktail parlors, laid-back dives with cheap beer and pinball, to craft beer emporiums

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The best gay bars in San Francisco

Get the lowdown on the city’s legendary LGBT nightlife with our roundup of the best gay bars in the Castro and beyond

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