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Sylvan Esso at 30 Days in LA
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Sylvan Esso at 30 Days in LA

The best live music venues in Los Angeles

Your complete guide to live music Los Angeles style, from concert calendars to iconic venues and more

By Kate Wertheimer and Michael Juliano

When it comes to live music venues, Los Angeles reigns. Ours is a storied history, from the rambling folk history of Woody Guthrie to the rock ’n’ rolling, raunchy ways of bands like the Doors, Van Halen and Motley Crue. And to this day, the city remains one of the best for amazing concerts—and amazingly free concerts—not in small part due to its wide array of venues, from gorgeous outdoor amphitheatres to hole-in-the-wall clubs and dive bars. There’s a steady stream of impressive local talent here, and no big-name artist completes a tour without stopping in L.A. We’ve got it all, when it comes to live music in Los Angeles and we’re damn lucky—see for yourself below.

The 19 best live music venues in Los Angeles

Hollywood Bowl
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ian D. Keating

1. Hollywood Bowl

Things to do Event spaces Hollywood

This gorgeous outdoor amphitheater has been hosting concerts since the LA Philharmonic first played here in 1922. Nestled in an aesthetically blessed fold of the Hollywood Hills, the 18,000-seat venue can bring out the romantic in the terminally cynical. It’s the summer home of the LA Phil, but it’s hosted everyone from the Beatles to Big Bird. Today, summers at the Bowl are a mix of classical concerts and the biggest names from all genres, from rock and pop to country and musical theater.

Teragram Ballroom
Photograph: Elizabeth Daniels Photography

2. Teragram Ballroom

Music Music venues Westlake

Shows at this 600-person Westlake spot are consistently indie rock, which makes sense: Owner Michael Swier is the man behind New York City’s Bowery Ballroom, Mercury Lounge and Music Hall of Williamsburg. Shows are priced reasonably, and you can grab a bite beforehand at the venue’s built-in bar and restaurant.

The Theatre at Ace Hotel
Photograph: Courtesy the Theatre at Ace Hotel

3. The Theatre at Ace Hotel

Theater Downtown Historic Core

When the Ace Hotel opened in early 2014, we didn’t just gain a super hip hotel in DTLA: We also got a jaw-droppingly beautiful 1920s movie house-turned-performing arts space, which has since billed an impressive lineup of performances, concerts, movie nights, lectures and more. The former flagship United Artists Theater is a 1,600-seat house perfect for folk acts, solo artists and beloved indie bands.

4. Troubadour

Music Music venues West Hollywood

This storied club has a rich musical history: Randy Newman got his start here, and Elton John made his US debut on its stage in 1970. It hasn’t lapsed into irrelevance in the time since, often showcasing bands on the rise—those shows sell out quick. The sound is great and the views are decent from almost anywhere in the room—just stay out from under the balcony.


5. Greek Theatre

Music Music venues Griffith Park

This pleasant, open-air, 6,000-seat theatre stages big summer shows by acts both national and local. It’s a bit like seeing a concert in the woods, and rivals the Hollywood Bowl in terms of L.A.’s most magical outdoor music venue. The only downside: The “stacked” parking means getting out of the parking lot often takes longer than the show, and VIP “Quick Parking” is a pricey $75.

6. The Satellite

Music Rock and indie Silver Lake

This sprawling dive, formerly known as Spaceland, remains the leading L.A. shrine to all things indie. The parking is a combat sport, but the venue has good sound and an upstairs lounge with a less-crowded bar and a photo booth (that actually works, on good nights!). The Monday night program, which features free monthly residencies for buzzy local bands on their way up, is always worth a look.

Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
Photograph: Courtesy Hollywood Forever/Tony Corella

7. Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Attractions Cemeteries Hollywood

Aside from popular posthumous celebs, Hollywood Forever is also home to summer outdoor movie screenings; Cinespia-hosted sleepovers with projected films, live music and games; as well as a number of unique concert events (past performers include Bon Iver, Lana del Rey and Karen O, to name just a few). Whether on the lawn or in the Masonic Lodge, seeing a show here is a little bit magical, and the bands booked here are always top notch and perfectly suited to play to a crowd of both living and dead.

8. Largo at the Coronet

Comedy La Cienega

We like venues that take good care of their performers, and that’s clearly the case at L.A.’s home for cultured, bankable singer-songwriters and brilliant comedians. The likes of Aimee Mann, the Watkins Family, Andrew Bird and perennial hot-ticket artist-in-residence Jon Brion ply their trade in the remarkably intimate 280-seat space.

Walt Disney Concert Hall.
Photograph: Courtesy LA Phil

9. Walt Disney Concert Hall

Music Music venues Downtown

As the $274-million crown jewel of the Music Center, Disney Hall opened in 2003 to rave reviews. The novelty hasn't yet worn off: Both inside and out, this is a terrific venue. Designed by Frank Gehry, the hall features a 2,265-capacity auditorium with an open platform stage and a stunning pipe organ. The hall is the home of the LA Philharmonic and the LA Master Chorale, but the schedule is surprisingly varied (Björk, Sigur Rós, Sylvan Esso, Nick Cave and Iron & Wine have all played here).

El Rey Theatre
Photograph courtesy El Rey Theatre

10. El Rey Theatre

Music Music venues Miracle Mile

It might be a gorgeous Art Deco relic, but the 800-capacity El Rey runs a roster that’s decidedly dust-free. From Joji to Empress Of to the Lemon Twigs, the schedule is full of acts du jour, with the older but still-interesting likes of Yo La Tengo, Raphael Saadiq and Hot Chip also appearing. Sound and sightlines are both excellent.


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