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

Michael Juliano
Written by
Kate Wertheimer
&
Michael Juliano
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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

  • Things to do
  • Event spaces
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

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.

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Westlake
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Theater
  • Downtown Historic Core
  • price 2 of 4

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.

Troubadour
  • Music
  • Music venues
  • West Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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Greek Theatre
  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Griffith Park
  • price 2 of 4

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.

The Satellite
  • Music
  • Rock and indie
  • Silver Lake
  • price 1 of 4

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.

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  • Attractions
  • Cemeteries
  • Hollywood
  • price 2 of 4

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.

Largo at the Coronet
  • Comedy
  • La Cienega
  • price 2 of 4

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.

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  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Downtown
  • price 3 of 4

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).

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Miracle Mile
  • price 2 of 4

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.

 

The best live music by month

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Just announced

  • Music
  • Folk, country and blues
  • price 0 of 4
  • Santa Monica

It’s not quite the beachfront party of Twilight on the Pier, but Santa Monica’s newest free concert series again sees the city teaming up with the much-loved McCabe’s Guitar Shop for some outdoor shows. This September, you can catch Sunday afternoon concerts at Gandara Park (right next to Bergamot Station and the E Line) that explore the roots of Americana.

  • Music
  • Reggae and dancehall
  • price 3 of 4
  • Long Beach

Weed—the Cali vibes are weed. At least that’s the sense we get from this Long Beach festival. Though there’s no lineup quite yet for the 2023 edition, its inaugural outing included the Marley Brothers, Rebelution, Sean Paul, Slightly Stoopid, Stick Figure, Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Atmosphere, Shaggy and the Wu-Tang Clan.

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  • Music
  • Rock and indie
  • price 2 of 4
  • Inglewood

This UK quartet takes a kitchen-sink approach to arena-rock aspirations, incorporating everything from hazy atmospherics and emo hooks to catchy synth claps and brooding, booming drums. The groove-oriented outfit hopes to mean everything to every teenager. The final, feel-good product lands in unexpected ground between Bloc Party and One Direction.

The latest L.A. music news

  • Music
  • Music

Ready or not, music festival season is here with all of its euphoria and exhaustion—and you can expect a bit more of both as the L.A. area’s definitive hip-hop and EDM fest tacks on an extra day. HARD Summer has officially announced its 2022 lineup, as well as the addition of a third day to the traditionally weekend-long event. Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Uzi Vert and Porter Robinson top this year’s lineup, with additional performances from Joji, Zeds Dead back-to-back with Subtronics, Alison Wonderland, Madeon, Chris Lake, Gunna and a whole lot more. The music fest has hopped around town a bit in recent years, but it will once again return to San Bernardino’s NOS Event Center, from July 29 to 31. The grounds will feature five outdoor stages, with traditional shade structures for general admission attendees and a pool overlooking the stage for VIPs. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 6 at 10am. A three-day general admission pass starts at $229, with single-day tickets available for $89. The price for a three-day GA+ pass rises to $279 while VIP is $429; single-day tickets for the two tiers are $119 and $169, respectively. Check out the full lineup below. Courtesy Insomniac 100 gecsA Hundred DrumsAlison WonderlandAminéAnabel EnglundArnold & LaneBaby WeightBarilanBiiclaBktherulaBladeeBLOND:ISHBlunts & BlondesBOMBAYSCanablissCapozziCC LoveChloé CailletChris LakeClooneeCraze Drum & Bass SetDeathpactDenzel CurryDJ DialsDimensionDJ MinxDJ TennisDoechiiDOTDRAMADuckwrthEli Brownericdo

  • Music
  • Music

We’re so thankful that live music has been back in full swing for a little while now—but our wallets don’t exactly feel the same way (we’re looking at you, basically every music festival). Thankfully, Live Nation has yet again decided to give all of us a temporary reprieve with “$25 all-in tickets” to concerts around the country, including a staggering 200-plus shows near Los Angeles. And unlike most tickets from major platforms (like, ahem, Live Nation) these limited-time $25 tickets (up $5 over last year’s similar promotion) won’t have any extra taxes or fees on top of them. The deal doesn’t apply to every sought-after show this summer, but expect to find $25 tickets up for grabs to some pretty noteworthy. The $25 all-in tickets go on sale Wednesday, May 4 at 7am. If you happen to be a Citi cardmember, you can nab them a day early on Tuesday, May 3 at 9am.

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  • Music
  • Music

UPDATE (4/6/22): Ye is out, the Weeknd is in. After an eventful few months in his personal life, TMZ reported earlier this week that the rapper formerly known as Kanye West was dropping out of his headlining slot at Coachella. Now, promoter Goldenvoice has confirmed the news and announced that Swedish House Mafia and the Weeknd will fill his spot atop the Sunday lineup. Swedish House Mafia had already been announced for the sold-out 2022 fest, but their odd “returning to the desert” billing floating at the bottom of the original lineup poster has now been boosted to a proper Sunday headlining position, paired with the Weeknd, who fills in after recently headlining the fest in 2018. A social media post from Coachella frames the two as “the party and the after-party.” The new lineup poster and our original story from January 12 appear below. Courtesy Goldenvoice -- ORIGINAL STORY: Third time’s a charm, right? After having to scrap both its 2020 and 2021 editions due to the pandemic, Coachella’s 2022 return is now right around the corner—and the desert music fest has finally released a full lineup for it. Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and Ye (that’s the artist formerly known as Kanye West, in case you stopped caring over these past few years) will headline this year’s fest, which will once again bring identical lineups to two weekends in Indio, April 15 to 17 and April 22 to 24, 2022. Swedish House Mafia is also featured on the poster just as prominently as the other headliners

  • Music
  • Music

Maybe you watched Super Bowl LVI to see the Rams take on the Bengals. Maybe it was because it was being hosted in Inglewood’s shiny new SoFi Stadium. Or maybe you were just in it for the commercials and halftime show—and the latter certainly didn’t disappoint this year. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak (who could be spotted playing drums) led the halftime show on a very Compton-inspired set at SoFi Stadium. (We’ve included a video of the performance at the bottom of the story.) A recreation of the late-modern Martin Luther King Jr. memorial at Compton City Hall anchored one end of the white block of buildings, with the Compton Courthouse on the other end and a street scene in between of local shops lined by lowriders. You could spot some notable local restaurants, too: a sign for Tam’s Burgers, plus a digital window with Dale’s Donuts visible (not to be confused with Randy’s, though both doughnut-topped spots descend from the defunct Big Donut Drive-In chain). Also spotted: a marquee for Eve After Dark, seemingly inspired by the nearby ’70s club. Musically, it was pretty heavy on turn-of-the-millennium hits. Dr. Dre rose up from a faux home studio at an all-white mixing board for performances of “Next Episode” and “California Love” with Snoop Dogg. 50 Cent unfurled from the ceiling—just like in the music video—for “In Da Club.” Mary J. Blige got crunk up on the roof of the set for “Family Affair” followed by “No More Drama

Where to see live music in Los Angeles

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Music festivals near Los Angeles

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