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There's hardly any debate that L.A. has the best music scene in America. But when it comes to venues in which to hear that music played live, we are equally blessed. Whether you're preferred concert-going experience is a sweaty dive or a swanky, historic theater, our city offers up a vast array of options every night of the week.

To celebrate that embarrassment of riches, we asked a group of 25 L.A. Weekly writers, editors and photographers to rank their favorite SoCal venues for live music, then tallied the results to come up with this list of our region's 50 best. We asked them to consider sound quality, sight lines, and each place's history and overall “vibe” — as well as more prosaic factors like nearby parking and public transit options, and how easy (and pricey) it is to get a drink. Above all, we asked them to consider each venue's bookings — because even the nicest club in town isn't worth visiting unless you're likely to hear some great music when you get there.

We began working on this list over a month ago, before the city's newest concert venue, Teragram Ballroom, had opened its doors — so even though early reviews of that space give it high marks, it didn't make the cut. And Teragram's not the only worthy venue not represented here; L.A. has far more than just 50 excellent places to hear live music, and we don't mean for this list to imply otherwise. But in our view, these 50 are the best of the best.

We hope this list will inspire you to get out there and see more live music. Because here in L.A., there's never been a better time to do so.

Das Bunker night at Los Globos; Credit: Photo by Gustavo Turner

Das Bunker night at Los Globos; Credit: Photo by Gustavo Turner

50. Los Globos

This Silver Lake institution doesn't have the best sound or lighting. Upstairs, the ceiling is too low; downstairs, the sight lines are poor. Even in the dead of winter, it can get stiflingly hot. But over the years, Los Globos has consistently hosted the kind of music that doesn't always find a home in L.A.'s flashier venues. It's no accident that both A Club Called Rhonda's “pansexual” dance parties and Das Bunker's dress-to-distress industrial nights call Los Globos home, or that the club books more quality underground metal shows than any other venue in town (except, arguably, Glendale's Complex). For fans of music on the fringes of the mainstream, Los Globos is exactly the kind of dive-y venue they can claim as their own — one with friendly staff, cheap (by Silver Lake standards) beer, and a we're-all-in-this-together vibe embodied by the stacks of band gear you'll often find piled up along the second floor wall. 3040 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, www.clublosglobos.com. — Andy Hermann

The Deadly Syndrome performing at the Viper Room; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

The Deadly Syndrome performing at the Viper Room; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

49. The Viper Room

Catching a show at the Viper Room is part of the quintessential Sunset Strip experience, with a mystique that largely stems from the venue’s history. When Johnny Depp reopened the old Central club as the Viper Room in 1993, he revived the venue with performances by Tom Petty and Johnny Cash, but also garnered unexpected attention when River Phoenix tragically overdosed and died in front of the club. But what makes the Viper most distinct is its size. The most intimate club on the Strip, the 250-person capacity venue dissolves the barrier between musicians and their fans, and is often where prominent hometown heroes have been known to mingle with the crowd. If the main room starts feeling claustrophobic, there’s a downstairs lounge to retreat to. As with all Sunset Strip venues, parking can be a hassle, especially on weekends, but street parking is available if you get there early; just be sure to read the signs carefully. 8852 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, www.viperroom.com. — Heidi Darby

Crowd-surfing at Alex's Bar; Credit: Photo by LP Hastings

Crowd-surfing at Alex's Bar; Credit: Photo by LP Hastings

48. Alex's Bar

One of SoCal's last proper old-guard punk hideaways, Alex's Bar looks like a rockabilly bordello meets Transylvanian blood bank, which is why True Blood was filmed here. Between karaoke nights, Alex's hosts bands you'd see on the OG Warped Tour (when Volcom shorts ruled), and some of today's popular garage-pop acts, like Bleached and Together Pangea. Fat Wreck Chords bands cruise through on their way to L.A.; The Offspring and The Muffs have kicked those heavy red-velvet curtains down, and Jello Biafra is a regular. Parking is in the back (along with the entrance), where people are constantly getting stoned, while the beer selection inside is always ranked among the area's best. Thankfully, the artsy Northeast L.A. crowd doesn't come to the LBC for gigs, so the crowd is relatively hipster-free. This place is necessary, especially if you prefer Good Riddance and BDSM to Girlpool and trust-fund babies. 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, www.alexsbar.com. — Art Tavana

See also: Alex's Bar Celebrates 15 Years of Punk-Rock Insanity

Music at the Getty; Credit: Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust

Music at the Getty; Credit: Courtesy of the J. Paul Getty Trust

47. The Getty

Los Angeles’ extended summers typically come with brisk evenings, so bring a jacket (and comfortable footwear — seating is limited) to the Getty Center's outdoor summer music offerings. Host musicians who curate “Friday Flights” blur lines with their aural and visual installations in the architecturally eye-popping space. “Saturdays Off the 405” start warm with a DJ and end chilly with a band. Admission is free and you save $5 on parking after 5 p.m. Onsite food queues can be lengthy, so a homemade picnic — which you can partake of in manicured gardens, enjoying spectacular views — is your best bet. Coming early in August means the kids get to take advantage of the Garden Concerts For Kids series. And during the off-season there is music at least once a month, either in the courtyard or in the Harold M. Williams Auditorium. 1200 Getty Center Dr., Brentwood, www.getty.edu. — Lily Moayeri

46. The Baked Potato

Founded in 1970 by pianist Don Randi of famed studio hired guns “The Wrecking Crew,” Studio City's Baked Potato is L.A.'s oldest jazz club, sitting along the 101 across from Universal Studios. Its name comes from the menu, which features baked potatoes and nothing but — over 20 kinds, topped with various meats and vegetables. In its early days, the club's 100-capacity wood-paneled room was a hangout for jazz fanatic Clint Eastwood. This is a place by musicians, for musicians, and the sound here is the best of any area jazz venue (though sensitive ears should have earplugs handy). Andy Summers (The Police), Slash, Steve Lukather (Toto) and Joe Bonamassa are just a few of famous musicians who've played here many times. Musical stars in both the jazz and rock worlds can often be found hanging near Don's son Justin Randi at the bar, or out back at the nightly set break. 3787 Cahuenga Blvd, Studio City, www.thebakedpotato.com. — Tom Meek

One Trick Pony at the Mint; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

One Trick Pony at the Mint; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

45. The Mint

To call this Mid-City landmark intimate would be an understatement; its officially capacity is 200, but with more than 100 attendees it already feels packed. Operating since 1937, the Mint has played host to nearly as many luminaries as, say, the Troubadour or even the Hollywood Bowl, including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal and Nat King Cole. Folk, blues, jazz and American roots music are the focus, but the Mint has also played host to noisy psych-rock (The Warlocks), futuristic funk (Bernie Worrell) and everything in between. The narrow space can make the standing-room area a bit awkward, but you can call ahead to book a table or booth for dinner, or show up early to score a spot at the bar. Nearby street parking is ample. 6010 W. Pico Blvd., Mid-City, themintla.com. — Andy Hermann

Odd Future plays a surprise show during Low End Theory at the Airliner; Credit: Photo by Josh "CuriousJosh" Reiss

Odd Future plays a surprise show during Low End Theory at the Airliner; Credit: Photo by Josh “CuriousJosh” Reiss

44. The Airliner

Lincoln Heights' best dive bar makes our list for one reason only: It is home to Low End Theory, one of the most influential hip-hop and electronic music nights in North America. Since starting in 2006, LET has been the launch pad for such beat-scene luminaries as Flying Lotus, The Gaslamp Killer, Daedelus, Shlohmo, Teebs, Matthewdavid and Nosaj Thing, and a laboratory for innovative MCs such as Busdriver, Jonwayne and host Nocando to hone their craft. Local and international stars drop by on the regular to spin surprise DJ sets, try out new material, or just hang out. Thom Yorke hopped on the decks in 2011, and earlier this year Prince was spotted checking out a DJ Spinn set. The second floor sound system, designed by Low End Theory founder Daddy Kev, is one of the best in the city, and the projections, mixed live most weeks by Timeboy and Strangeloop, surpass those of venues four times the size. The tiny club hits capacity quickly, so get there early. 2419 N. Broadway, Lincoln Heights, www.lowendtheoryclub.com. — Andy Hermann

The Hard Way performing at the Whisky; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

The Hard Way performing at the Whisky; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

43. Whisky a-Go-Go

First, a confession: In high school, I often told people the first show I ever saw was Agnostic Front at the Whisky, when in truth it was Bush and Veruca Salt at the Forum. This wasn’t just me pretending to be hardcore (though it was certainly that); it also felt cooler to claim as my first the spot where The Doors and War started off as house bands, where Janis Joplin drank the night she died, where countless metal and grunge bands announced themselves to the world. I didn’t care that it was already past its prime when I first went, and it doesn’t matter now. This iconic spot keeps some necessary grit on the increasingly bourgie Sunset Strip and, not unlike like the wrinkled rockers buying booze at Gil Turner's up the block, reminds us we haven't lived nearly as hard as we'd like to think. 8901 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, www.whiskyagogo.com. — Patrick James

Jagwar Ma on Santa Monica Pier; Credit: Courtesy of Twilight Concerts at the Pier

Jagwar Ma on Santa Monica Pier; Credit: Courtesy of Twilight Concerts at the Pier

42. Santa Monica Pier

There’s nothing quite like seeing a concert at the Santa Monica Pier. You’re literally at the very edge of the continent, perched over the water on creaky wooden pilings that sometimes sway with the incoming tide. Even in the depths of summer, the air is always cooler, and in every direction, you’re surrounded by fantastic views, from the flickering lights of downtown Santa Monica to the long curve of the coast sweeping south toward Venice and the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Although pricey festivals like Way Over Yonder have taken root on the pier in recent years, music always sounds better when it’s free, especially during the summer Twilight Concerts series, which has featured Charles Bradley, No Age, Patti Smith, Dr. John, La Santa Cecilia, The Zombies, Dick Dale and, fittingly, Best Coast. Parking in the lot under the pier can quickly sell out, and the music can die out quickly in the damp air if you’re too far from the stage, so it’s best to arrive early. Pier entrance is at corner of Colorado Ave. and Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, santamonicapier.org/twilightconcerts. — Falling James

Portugal. The Man at El Cid; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

Portugal. The Man at El Cid; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

41. El Cid

El Cid feels like a pub you'd visit in southern Spain. It's a proper restaurant on the weekend, where the sangria flows during flamenco shows for tourists looking for that inauthentic L.A. experience. It's also a hidden indie rock gem where hyped local acts like L.A. Witch, Street Joy, and Joel Jerome drop by from time to time. The cover to see a gig is usually $15 or less. There's loads of parking available on Sunset Boulevard, so don't pay for valet unless you're late for a gig. The entire building is designed to look like a 16th century Andalusian tavern, so even if the band flops, it's a romantic spot for a date or a somewhat authentic Spanish experience that even smells like a Spanish alley. 4212 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake, www.elcidla.com. — Art Tavana

Fans lining up down the block for an in-store performance by Lana Del Rey at Amoeba Music; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

Fans lining up down the block for an in-store performance by Lana Del Rey at Amoeba Music; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

40. Amoeba Music

There may be better rooms at which to see a show in the city, but there's nowhere else to catch a free mini-set from one of the many major bands who have graced Amoeba’s stage. Earlier this year, Death Cab For Cutie played their first in-store in 10 years, and famously, in 2007, Paul McCartney and TV on the Radio played short sets, both of which were later released as live EPs. If rock bands aren’t your thing, there are plenty of DJ sets at night. Mark Ronson, DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5, Egyptian Lover, Doc Martin, Z-Trip, and Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore have all hopped behind the decks at some point over the store’s decade and a half. The sight lines and sound are OK at best, but considering it's a record store and admission is free, it’s a pretty damn good experience overall. 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, www.amoeba.com. — Daniel Kohn

RIff Raff at the House of Blues; Credit: Photo by Hannah Verbeuren

RIff Raff at the House of Blues; Credit: Photo by Hannah Verbeuren

39. House of Blues Sunset Strip

Reports of its demolition have circled for years, but for now, the House of Blues Sunset Strip remains standing. The artfully distressed wood that covers seemingly every inch of the place always makes you feel as though you’ve stepped inside a pirate ship. If you find said atmosphere corny, remind yourself that you’re on the Strip, where nearly everything is done with the tourists in mind. Despite its name (and the fact that Steel Panther performs here regularly), the storied venue works surprisingly well for rap concerts, the sound system seemingly well-tailored for all those head-nodding beats and floor-splintering bass. If you’re able to watch from the balcony, we recommend it; you can see the entire stage and your view is less likely to be obstructed. If not, try finding a place just in front of the sound booth downstairs. 8430 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, www.houseofblues.com/losangeles. — Max Bell

Pehrspace; Credit: Flickr/wakitu

Pehrspace; Credit: Flickr/wakitu

38. Pehrspace

If underground is what you crave, look no further than Pehrspace. This DIY, volunteer-run art gallery and performance space is the the ultimate destination for up-and-coming local musicians and artists, plus secret shows by the likes of The Strokes and, most recently, Dan Deacon and Future Islands, as well as the occasional celebrity guest (hi, Val Kilmer). Every show is $5 cash at the door, all ages, and BYOB. With a capacity around 80 and no stage, it gets humid and real snuggly. By no means is it fancy, but you can shamelessly get rowdy and challenge yourself to not use either of the two inexplicably damp bathrooms. 325 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park, www.pehrspace.org. — Britt Witt

Control night at Avalon; Credit: Photo by Kelsee Becker

Control night at Avalon; Credit: Photo by Kelsee Becker

37. Avalon/Bardot

Thanks to the EDM explosion, swanky new dance clubs have sprung up all over Hollywood and DTLA in recent years — but nearly 12 years after it first opened, Avalon remains the best of the bunch. The beautifully restored theater, formerly called the Palace, has hassle-free entry (if you buy tickets in advance — which you should), a perfect-sized dance floor, lots of levels to explore and mingle, and most importantly, the best EDM sound system in town. Whether they're pumping out dubstep and trap at Control on Fridays, or big-room house and trance on Saturdays, Avalon's speakers — designed by club owner John Lyons — deliver crisp highs and enough low-end whomp to blow your hair back. The venue is also home to Bardot, a stylish lounge that serves a chillout area on club nights and the home of Chris Douridas' School Night on Mondays, one of the most well-curated showcases for up-and-coming bands in town. Both drinks and parking are pricey, so it's not a cheap night out — but even for non-VIPs, Avalon delivers a top-shelf club experience. 1735 Vine St., Hollywood, avalonhollywood.com. — Andy Hermann

See also: Avalon: A Sonic Overhaul and a Look Back

Katy Perry at Staples Center; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

Katy Perry at Staples Center; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

36. Staples Center

Yes, intimacy is compromised when you're but one in an audience of thousands (and thousands). But if you're heading to our downtown arena behemoth, you're likely less after closeness and more that kinetic feeling of mass communion you get when watching an international superstar with a legion of fellow fans. There is something truly thrilling about entering Staples, which holds approximately 18,000 people, to see performers like Drake, T. Swift, 1D, Queen Bey or any of the other A-listers who can pack, and command, the place. With the rise of L.A. Live, an expanded roster of restaurants (however corporate) have made an evening at Staples a more all-encompassing night on the town, and parking is easier than ever. While underground parking can be steep, the surrounding street-level lots are (usually) reasonably priced; be sure to bring cash for the latter. 1111 S. Figueroa St., Downtown, www.staplescenter.com — Katie Bain

The balcony and ceiling of the Belasco; Credit: Flickr/Kansas Sebastian

The balcony and ceiling of the Belasco; Credit: Flickr/Kansas Sebastian

35. Belasco Theater

Opened right next door to the Mayan in 2011, this beautifully restored former burlesque house has some of the most ornate architecture of all of downtown's theaters, a mix of Gothic, Moorish and Churrigueresque (don't ask us, we just looked it up) that will take your breath away when you first enter. It's already hosted a diverse array of live music and club events, from Weezer and Sam Smith to Deadmau5 and A Club Called Rhonda. Sound is good from the floor, less so from the balcony, and although the place can get stuffy when it's at capacity, a huge courtyard provides ample breathing room, even when the smokers are out in force. It's accessible by Metro and nearby lots are usually under $20 — although parking can be a nightmare when both the Belasco and Mayan have events on the same night. 1050 S. Hill St., Downtown, belascous.com. — Andy Hermann

Deakin of Animal Collective performs at CFAER; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

Deakin of Animal Collective performs at CFAER; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

34. Center for the Arts Eagle Rock

As soon as FYF Presents started booking shows here, the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock became the hub for bands you'd hear on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic or at FYF Fest in August. The space itself is intimate but feels enormous, with a high ceiling adorned with wooden Art Deco chandeliers. Gigs sell out quickly, especially if Ty Segall or some Pitchfork hype-band like Waxahatchee is booked. Get their early to grab a good spot, because when it gets crowded, you won't be able to see a thing between the giant pillars and hoards of fedora-wearing hipshits. Besides sight lines, the bathroom is the only other drawback, because there's always a long line. There's no lot, but street parking isn't hard to find, unless you're there for a sold-out show. In that case, you're going to wish you took an Uber. 2225 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock, cfaer.org. — Art Tavana

33. Bluewhale

After years of frustration at how most clubs in Los Angeles viewed jazz and treated musicians, Korean-born vocalist Joon Lee decided to open his own, vowing to to run it from an artist’s perspective. Lee’s commitment to the quality of the music above all else (framed in a elegant, modern space) has granted Bluewhale, in its sixth year of existence, most-favored status among jazz musicians and patrons alike. There is now an endless stream of jazz A-listers from New York and beyond parading through the club’s custom-glass entrance, yet Bluewhale remains the most affordable option to see the very best jazz has to offer, with low ticket prices and no food or drink minimum, making the music accessible to a younger, hipper crowd. It’s too bad the club is tucked away in a nondescript Little Tokyo shopping mall; here’s hoping they can move to a new site sooner than later. 123 Astronaut E.S. Onizuka St., Little Tokyo, bluewhalemusic.com. — Gary Fukushima

Nick Cave at the Shrine Auditorium; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

Nick Cave at the Shrine Auditorium; Credit: Photo by Timothy Norris

32. The Shrine

Built in 1926, the Shrine's Moorish Revival architectural style makes it an L.A. landmark. Over the years, the venue has hosted everything from KROQ’s Almost Acoustic Christmas to Hard Summer to the Academy Awards, as well as big-name artists like Nick Cave, Tame Impala and Portishead. This summer, it will add the Low End Theory Festival to the list of noteworthy events that have graced its historic stages. It's easily accessible via the Metro Gold Line and nearby parking is ample. Sound isn't always the best, but the sheer spectacle of the Shrine's architectural details more than make up for it. Whether you're squished between sweaty bodies for an EDM event in the Expo Hall, or enjoying a seated concert in the Auditorium, the Shrine makes for a memorable night out. 665 W. Jefferson Blvd., University Park, www.shrineauditorium.com. — Mary Carreon

Cafe NELA; Credit: LA Weekly

Cafe NELA; Credit: LA Weekly

31. Café NELA

Café NELA is located just far enough from the pay-to-play clubs of the Sunset Strip and the self-conscious hipster hangouts of Silver Lake and Echo Park for real music to happen. While the humble Cypress Park beer-and-wine bar doesn’t have glitzy furnishings or a fancy sound system, it more than makes up for any physical shortcomings by presenting some of the most adventurous music in town. Owner Dave Travis has performed for many years in the local underground scene as a cellist in such stubbornly uncompromising bands as W.A.C.O. and Carnage Asada, and he tends to book shows with his heart instead of his wallet, opening the room’s small stage to radical art-jazz experimentalists and guttural hardcore punks alike. Named after its northeast L.A. setting, Café NELA doesn’t have a rich history, yet after opening just two years ago, it’s already getting a reputation as a place where musicians can experiment wildly and take chances. 1906 Cypress Ave., Cypress Park, www.cafenela.net. — Falling James

Mack Sennett Studios; Credit: Courtesy of Prismatics

Mack Sennett Studios; Credit: Courtesy of Prismatics

30. Mack Sennett Studios

The glamour of old Hollywood is revamped for the millennium at the 100-year-old Mack Sennett Studios. Reopening its doors in 2013, the one-time soundstage in the heart of Silver Lake now serves as a multi-purpose production space, hosting primarily unique, invite-only events (like “Generations of Soul,” featuring Raphael Saadiq, B.J. The Chicago Kid, and Lee Fields), as well as the occasional (and quick to sell out) open-to-the-public show. Lucky attendees of these events are treated to valet parking, friendly door personnel, and eye-catching bar staff in a minimally designed environment that makes good use of the studio’s storied collection of items. The stark white, triangular room, which is never quite dark, allows for easy visibility from any angle. While Mack Sennett doesn’t always function as a music venue, it doesn’t hold back on the production when it presents music events. From Los Angeles sons Flying Lotus and Classixx to international heartbreaker Chet Faker, everyone who plays the Studios gets the star treatment. 1215 Bates Ave., Silver Lake, www.macksennettstudios.net. — Lily Moayeri

29. Complex

This 200-capacity room sits nondescriptly in its Glendale neighborhood and is easy to miss driving by. But inside is a cozy spot to catch live gigs representing some of the darkest realms of the music world. The venue's frequent goth, industrial, EBM and underground dance music bookings are no surprise, given the ownership’s prior background with Das Bunker. But Complex has also branched out and formed relationships with local heavy metal promoters to present strong lineups of black, death and doom metal as well. Glendale is a little bit of a trek for music lovers on the Westside and many shows do not see headliners hitting the stage until midnight or later. But it's worth the extra mileage and late night to experience Complex's smart curation of obscure acts, excellent sound, a staff whose friendliness betrays the darkness of the room, and one of the best beer selections of any music venue in the region. 808 E. Colorado St., Glendale, www.complexla.com. — Jason Roche

See also: L.A.'s Best Club for Underground Music Is in Glendale

28. Fairbanks Lawn at Hollywood Forever

I first experienced a Hollywood Forever show on a foggy September evening in 2009. The gates of the cemetery opened at midnight and 2,000 or so of us laid down our blankets on the cemetery lawn and drank wine until dawn, at which point a group of monks did a ceremonial chanting ritual as the opening act for Bon Iver, who played a killer set as a pink sun burned off the fog. It was, to say the least, very special. The point here is that few other venues in town are able to lend such moody ambience to a show as the historic site, which has served as the final resting place for Hollywood luminaries since dawn of cinema. The outdoor venue is lush, sound is usually great, ticket prices are reasonable, parking is typically included in the cost, and on-point bookings err on the side of indie rock. (Father John Misty even named a song after the place.) Tame Impala and Modest Mouse highlight this summer's schedule. 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, www.hollywoodforever.com/culture. — Katie Bain

27. The Glass House

The Glass House's no-frills room is as simple as the juice and soft pretzels it sells at its bar. The venue’s cheap tickets, free parking, and ultra-laid-back staff make it one of the most underrated venues to enjoy in the greater L.A. area. Pomona isn’t close, but driving 45 minutes is less painful than paying for an Uber during surge pricing. In terms of booking and overall vibe, the Glass House could best be described as an unpretentious, all-ages alternative to the Echoplex. It's best-known as a mecca for both local and national punk bands, but delivers a consistent calendar of both obscure and high-profile acts in a variety of styles, from The Kills to Tycho to fun. (before they blew up). Bonus for the over-21 crowd: They recently began serving alcohol. 200 W. 2nd St., Pomona, www.theglasshouse.us. — Mary Grace Cerni

26. The Observatory

Every year, the Observatory and adjoining Constellation Room are hosts to the majority of Burger Records' events, a list that never seems to stop growing. From Burgerama to the all-female Burger a-Go-Go, as well as Burger-affiliated events like The Growlers' Beach Goth party, Santa Ana’s Observatory is a huge supporter of the Southern California DIY scene and a mecca for skate punks, stoners, psych rockers and everyone in between. All of the venue’s bookings are pretty on-point across genres — this June, the Observatory will host Rhye, Action Bronson, Andre Nickatina (for $5!) and even Lil Debbie (if you’re into that). Admittedly, parking is often a pain in the ass, but the Observatory more than makes up for it with reasonable ticket prices, including free shows, and unbeatable intimacy — especially in the 300-person capacity (and that’s pushing it) Constellation Room. For Angelenos, it may be a bit of a trek to get there, but it is well worth the trip. 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, www.observatoryoc.com. — Artemis Thomas-Hansard


25. The Regent Theater

After reopening its doors in 2014, the Regent Theater has become one of L.A.’s must-visit concert venues. Located in the Old Bank District in Downtown L.A., the historic, 1,100-capacity venue has been renovated with a reverent mélange of architectural and design flourishes, nodding to everything from the Gothic to Art Deco. With a sizable dance floor up front and two stair sets that lead to a pair of small balconies, the space is comfortable and easily navigable even when packed. The sound system is both capable of unleashing the brain-frying bass of your favorite DJ and capturing the subtleties of arching free jazz, as proven by Kamasi Washington’s epic album release party last month. If you’re lucky (read: early), you might be able to score street parking nearby, though there are plenty of nearby parking garages and lots available. For food, we recommend taking a short walk to renowned French dip haven Cole’s. 448 S. Main St., Downtown, www.theregenttheater.com. — Max Bell

See also: The Regent Joins Downtown L.A.'s Live-Music Boom

24. Club Nokia

The tiered setup at Club Nokia is visually pleasing from wherever you are in the room, but it’s the bottom/pit area and the second level balcony that offer the best POVs. Maybe that’s true in most music venues, but I’ve seen this space filled with couches, tables and chairs or totally open, and it’s a whole new vibe every time. Unlike the seated Nokia Theatre, also in L.A. Live, this futuristic “club” has proven malleable for a myriad of events, from televised shows like the Golden Gods Metal Awards to Cirque Berzerk’s spectacles to EDM and hip-hop nights. The Nokia experience is generally all-ground grand for a smaller venue: big artists, big sound and big lights and production. Parking and tix may not be cheap, but it’s a bang for your buck thing. 800 W. Olympic Blvd., Downtown, www.clubnokia.com. — Lina Lecaro

23. Fox Theater Pomona

Since opening for concerts under the Goldenvoice banner in 2009, the Fox Theater Pomona provides a 2,000-capacity standing room, tiered theater equidistant from Downtown L.A., Orange County, and the I.E. Its Coachella affiliation means it can pack a truly special moment around the festival, like Pavement’s first U.S. reunion show there in 2010, or a chance to see a rare U.S. theater set by The Knife in 2014. But non-festival season bookings can still be memorable, from assorted EDM dance parties to Green Day celebrating Billie Joe Armstrong’s return back from his rehab stint. The Pomona arts colony as a whole provides more culture than the college town typically gets credit for, and most of the street parking in nearby neighborhoods goes unchecked after dark, making free parking easy if you don’t mind a few minutes of walking. Even more incentive to get there early: first-come, first-served floor access. 301 S. Garey Ave., Pomona, www.foxpomona.com. — Philip Cosores

22. Largo at the Coronet

Some fans of the old Largo on Fairfax still miss that tiny supper club's intimate confines, where folks at the front tables could literally reach out and tousle genius-in-residence Jon Brion's hair as he hunched over one of his many loop pedals (not that anyone would dare — owner Mark Flanagan regularly tossed disruptive patrons for far milder offenses). But the Coronet Theatre, Largo's home since 2008, is not without its own charms, including a courtyard that invites pre- and post-show mingling, much-improved acoustics, and a front bar even tinier than the old space that occasionally hosts acoustic shows. The 280-seat theater itself is pretty spartan, but it's what takes place onstage that matters: regular appearances by Aimee Mann, Paul F. Tompkins, Grant-Lee Phillips, Ed Helms (who plays a mean banjo), The Watkins Family Hour, The Living Sisters, and dozens more of L.A.'s best and brightest singer-songwriters and comedians, many of whom drop in unannounced on one another's sets. Jon Brion still does his dazzling solo residency on the last Friday of every month, too. 366 N. La Cienega Blvd., Beverly Grove, www.largo-la.com. — Andy Hermann

21. Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace

Any venue whose history begins in the ruins of a 1940s film-set-cantina-turned-outlaw-biker-bar ought to already be preserved in the Smithsonian. Thankfully, they haven’t hauled Pappy & Harriet's off to D.C. yet, and this dust-blown desert roadhouse continues to host a genuinely eclectic mix of nationally touring acts and local upstarts. Since a (non-corporate) overhaul in 2003, they’ve crammed Angeleno road-trippers in with locals who could pass for Lost Highway extras beneath their raw wood rafters for the likes of Built to Spill, Kesha and everyone in between. If you’re really feeling bold (and you ought to be), you’ll take the two-hour trip out there on a Monday night just to bask in the oddball open mic hosted by former child star Ted Quinn; you’ll witness a delightful crew of regulars who could have just hitchhiked in with John Waters, plus the occasional stray celebrity. For those of you who may ask, “L.A. venue!? How DARE you!?” Look, Pappy and Harriet’s remains one of the best destination venues anywhere within 500 miles of Los Angeles, so it qualifies. It qualifies so gosh durn hard. 53688 Pioneertown Rd., Pioneertown, www.pappyandharriets.com. — Paul T. Bradley

20. Hotel Café

To the uninitiated, nothing about the Hotel Café makes sense. It is neither a hotel nor a café. Its alleyway entrance is impossible to find. It's a laid-back singer-songwriter joint in the least laid-back, douchiest section of Hollywood. But once inside the intimate, brick-walled space, you can tell you've found something special. With terrific sound and generally attentive audiences, Hotel Café attracts a consistently stellar mix of up-and-comers and nationally touring acts who are usually way, way underplaying out of loyalty to a place that, likely as not, gave them a shot when they were just starting out. Both John Mayer and Charlotte OC have played here — recently. Most of the acts are acoustic, or at least acoustic-based, but to call the place a folk club would be misleading. The music here is usually more pop-oriented, or adventurous, or both, than that genre tag suggests. Arrive early if you want a table, park in the lot in back of the alley if it's not already full, and always double-check set times on the venue's website; tickets are sold separately for each act, though if shows aren't sold out, they'll usually let you arrive early or stay late to catch other sets. 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood, www.hotelcafe.com. — Andy Hermann

19. The Orpheum

Los Angeles is home to a handful of Beaux Arts buildings, from Grand Central Market to the Biltmore Hotel, but few are as lavish inside as the Orpheum Theatre. Named for the ill-fated Greek god of music and poetry, the venue houses two massive chandeliers worthy of their own epic poems. It first opened in 1926 as part of the Orpheum vaudeville circuit, and was restored in 1989 (following a fire) and further renovated in 2001. Today the place is still pretty damn magical, with a sound that’s nearly as rich as its artful interior. There’s plenty to eat and drink nearby (the Ace, Two Boots, Terroni, Umami Burger, Woodspoon, and Tacos Mexico are all a block away), but that can make parking a mess, especially on weekends. Head south of Olympic to save a few bucks, or just take the subway to the 7th Street Metro Station and enjoy a 10-minute walk. 842 S. Broadway, Downtown, laorpheum.com. — Patrick James

18. The Theatre at Ace Hotel

Opening in 2014 with Spiritualized playing Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, accompanied by a full orchestra, the Theatre at Ace Hotel has become known for such special one-off events. Recent star-studded tributes to David Lynch and Allen Ginsberg and multi-night stands from Belle & Sebastian and Jeff Tweedy have all lived up to the seated venue's gorgeous, restored, 1920s decor. Before the show, the lobby makes use of its movie-house ambiance, selling popcorn and candy along with the requisite booze, while a DJ often graces the foyer with a backing soundtrack. Just watch for the flashing light to tell you when the show is ready to start, and take your cue from others whether it is appropriate to sit or stand. As for getting there, the venue's downtown location makes public transport a relative breeze, though finding affordable parking can be a challenge. 929 S. Broadway, Downtown, www.acehotel.com/losangeles/theatre. — Philip Cosores

17. Walt Disney Concert Hall

With its rippling layers of metal wrapped like billowing silver sails around a warmer, wooden interior, Frank Gehry’s design for Disney Concert Hall remains one of the L.A.’s most striking architectural achievements. The building has numerous quirks, such as glassed-off passageways that seemingly lead nowhere, a fantastic house organ entwined in gigantic, pillar-like tentacles that extend to the ceiling, and a semi-secret terrace upstairs where you can take a break outside and wander close to Gehry’s fantastic metallic wings. Even more important, acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota’s sound design makes it possible to distinctly hear every subtle nuance when the house band, the L.A. Philharmonic, plays a symphony. While classical events take precedence for much of the year, an increasing number of pop, jazz, electronic and rock musicians — including Kraftwerk, Willie Nelson, Dianne Reeves, John Legend, Herbie Hancock and Ryan Adams — have taken advantage of the room’s superior acoustics. 111 S. Grand Ave., Downtown, www.laphil.com. — Falling James

16. Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever

Walking past the cemetery gates, with the scent of rotting flowers kissing you on the nose, there's this creepy Faustian bargain that plays in your mind: something about Satan, your soul, and the inverted pentagram that hangs over the narrow stage that has hosted everyone from Lana Del Rey to St. Vincent. The Masonic Lodge is where both Satanists and romantics can obsess over death. There's no backstage, so the band walks through the audience (usually about 150 worshipers) to deliver their musical sermon. You're basically in a Spanish-style church, witnessing what was once considered “the Devil's music.” Parking is free, but you'll be walking through a graveyard in pitch-black darkness, stumbling over empty bottles of booze and dead celebrities. This is the ideal venue to see an intimate gig, tap into the occult, or see Johnny Ramone's restless ghost. 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, www.hollywoodforever.com/culture. — Art Tavana

15. The Smell

The Smell is the kind of venue where you can see a guy running around in tighty-whiteys, handing out unwrapped Halloween candy and screaming unintelligible words into a microphone, then douse himself in lighter fluid and roll around on the ground with his ass on fire (that was my first experience). Or, you could catch a big leaguer such as Ty Segall play a low-key, acoustic set on a random Thursday night — and it’ll cost you five bucks. For 17 years, making it L.A.’s longest-running DIY venue, the Smell has been a launch pad for hometown heroes like No Age, Bleached (back when they were Mika Miko) and Health, as well as the go-to stage for local bands to earn their stripes in the underground scene. An all-ages venue — a rarity in this city — the Smell provides an entry way for kids into the live music scene, and (despite its sketchy-looking back alley entrance) a safe one at that, thanks to owner Jim Smith’s strict no-alcohol policy and Daniel the homeless security guard’s surveillance. 247 S Main St., Downtown, www.thesmell.org. — Artemis Thomas-Hansard

See also: The Smell: DIY Club Tries to Keep It Real (PHOTOS)

14. The Bootleg

You'll find the best small-club sound in L.A. at the Bootleg — at least in their front room, though the larger theater space in back is good, too. The somewhat hidden independent venue, which opened in 2006, is home to screenings, live theater and music. Like any local venue, their Monday night residencies are always worth checking out, but their knack for foreign artist showcases, like their recent Japan Nite, is where the Bootleg really thrives. The beer selection is great (and well-priced) and it's always reassuring to see the sound guy pacing through the audience with an iPad to ensure excellent sound quality from anywhere in the room. Changes are in store for the venue; after working for many years with concert promoters The Fold, they are going to start booking in-house and targeting a stronger relationship between theater and music. Nevertheless, the comforts of the intimate space and dedication to artists shall remain. 2220 Beverly Blvd., Historic Filipinotown, www.bootlegtheater.org — Britt Witt

13. The Forum

The laundry list of legendary artists that have performed at the Froum since its 1967 opening could not stop the ravages of time from taking their toll on the former home of the Lakers and Kings. At a Slipknot show in 2009, an armrest fell off my seat, detaching like tender meat from a bone. That’s what makes Madison Square Garden’s takeover of the venue a triumph. A beautiful hardwood floor, completely renovated seating, and sound acoustics revamped with live music in mind have helped deliver on MSG’s promise to turn the Forum into a concert hall instead of a sports arena. Parking is still a sore spot (either pay $25 to park in the Forum’s lot or go insane searching for scarce, cheaper neighborhood lots), but once inside, you'll find the perfect venue for new history to be made by legacy acts (U2, Fleetwood Mac) and newer stars (Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons). 3900 W Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, www.fabulousforum.com. — Jason Roche

12. The Echoplex

Whether you walk down the alleyway on Glendale Boulevard or downstairs from the Echo, entering the Echoplex is a reminder of the venue’s devotion to subterranean sounds. Spacious, dimly lit, and always well air-conditioned, the Echoplex continually books fantastic independent acts each week. Many are local musicians and just as many are emerging artists from around the world. The venue also hosts renowned weekly parties like reggae mecca Dub Club and the Free Monday Night Residency series, which has played a large role in launching the careers of artists like Hanni El Khatib and Warpaint. In addition to some of L.A.’s best booking, the venue houses a sound system built to rattle your ribcage. There’s also a large outdoor smoking patio (yes, you can drink there), as well as several delicious post-concert food options close by (Two Boots Pizza, Tacos Arizas). You might miss the entrance on your first visit, but you won’t anytime after that. 1822 Sunset Blvd. (but enter on Glendale Blvd.), Echo Park, www.theecho.com. — Max Bell

11. The Wiltern

With is colorful marquee and distinctive, Art Deco tower, the Wiltern is an L.A. landmark as immediately recognizable as Griffith Observatory or Grauman's Chinese. Every show in its grand interior tends to feel special. When I saw Arctic Monkeys on their first U.S. tour here in 2006, their jagged guitars stormed the room like a mob of switchblade-wielding soccer hooligans; when a cancer-beating Sharon Jones rocked the place last year, the steeply raked balcony shook like the floor of a Memphis juke joint. With a capacity of up to 2,200, the cavernous Wiltern is harder to love than its more intimate rivals, the Mayan and Fonda. At rock shows especially, sound can be undefined, and clear vantage points are tough to stake out. But as Live Nation's flagship L.A. venue, it consistently books shows worthy of its opulent, historic setting — including gigs this year by Best Coast, The Tragically Hip and Father John Misty. 3790 Wilshire Blvd., Koreatown, www.wiltern.com. — Andy Hermann

10. Hollywood Palladium

Since opening in 1940, the Palladium has hosted a seemingly endless parade of legendary performers, from swing and big-band figures like Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey to such ’60s and ’70s icons as Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones and Bob Marley. The Clash played there multiple nights in the early ’80s, and the Palladium was the site of a major riot when the LAPD attacked fans outside a Ramones/Black Flag concert in 1984. By the ’80s, though, the ballroom was in rundown condition, with shadowy lighting and a notoriously muddy sound system. The venue wasn’t restored to its former glory until 2008, after an extensive renovation by Live Nation culminated in a reopening concert headlined by Jay Z. Now the sound is considerably clearer, and the vintage Art Deco fixtures have been refurbished. In recent years, big names have started to come back to the Palladium, including The Black Keys, Slayer, Big Sean, The Replacements, Lily Allen, Sleater-Kinney and TV on the Radio. 6215 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, www.thehollywoodpalladium.com. — Falling James

9. The Mayan

While Jack White could have easily sold out a larger venue when he was on tour here last June, he opted to play both the Fonda and its slightly spookier urban jungle cousin, the Mayan. Why? Presumably because both of these spots have genuine soul, especially downtown's opulent Mayan Revival-style palace. Opened in 1927 as a movie house, this registered historical landmark maintains a high vibe of haunted intrigue whether its hosting club nights, Lucha VaVoom or live music. (Fun fact: the club scene in 1992's The Bodyguard was filmed here.) Although some complain about the sound, the multi-level venue offers unparalleled atmosphere in an intimate setting. There are a variety of dining and drinking options within walking distance, although you really can't miss at the taco spot across the street. 1038 S. Hill St., Downtown, www.clubmayan.com. — Katie Bain

8. The Satellite

Formerly (and more famously) known as Spaceland, this sweaty indie rock haven has seen many local and emerging bands make their debut in front of its signature blue-and-silver curtain. Known for its monthly Monday night residencies, the room’s cozy confines allow for not-yet-ready groups to hone their craft in front of a supportive crowd. You never know who may pop in on any given night; major artists like Jenny Lewis or Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready could spontaneously jump onstage with whoever is performing. Sets usually start late — 11ish for a headliner — which gives patrons plenty of time to wander the venue to play some billiards or kick back in the upstairs lounge. But don’t let the set times fool you. Parking around the venue is a nightmare, and with the stringent neighborhood parking rules and limited valet spots, it’s a good idea to get here early. 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake, www.thesatellitela.com. — Daniel Kohn

7. The Roxy

The Roxy Theatre is a Los Angeles institution whose fame spans the decades. Co-owned by legendary producer and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Lou Adler, and co-owned and operated by his son Nic, the club has attracted vital artists in their infancy and at their peak. A bootleg recording from Bruce Springsteen’s 1978 stint is sought after to this day, and the venue continues to crank out epic shows, including a recent performance by U2. Bands and fans benefit from a top-notch sound system that reaches into every crevice of the intimate structure. If you want to get up close and personal on a packed night, there’s a little space underneath the stage left speaker you can reach by slipping past the merch booth. The combination of history and relevancy is powerful for this Sunset Strip haunt, whose stage is seemingly timeless. 9009 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, www.theroxy.com. — Heidi Darby

6. The Echo

When it comes to intimate music venues, no room in L.A. is cooler than the Echo. And by “cool” we don’t mean lazy journo-speak “hipster” cool. We mean comfort level-cool. Chill locale, free or cheap parking (try Taix across the street, or the large public lots just south of Sunset), and you can wander in pretty much any night and dig what’s on stage. Bands who make it onto the Echo’s marquee rarely suck. Beyond booking, the space itself has a layout that just works, no matter who’s playing. The décor is non-descript but also non-douchey, while the stage is perfectly placed. Even shorties have a good view, unlike its basement bro the ‘Plex downstairs. Sound permeates every crevice here: front and center is the spot for a full-on throb or thrash attack (sure was for L7’s reunion show recently), while the sides of the room provide a still-intense but slightly less immersive sonic perspective — stage left with booth seating and ladies' room, and right near the patio entry and bar, where you can even munch Two Boots pizza during the show if you want. Now that's comfort-cool. 1822 Sunset Blvd., Echo Park, www.theecho.com. — Lina Lecaro 

5. Greek Theatre

Los Angeles’ few outdoor venues have operating seasons, and the Greek is no different, usually remaining dormant for the cooler months. But once the season shifts, eclectic booking peppers the calendar, with anything from sold-out, multi-date stops from The Weeknd and Sam Smith in recent years to classic rock and rising indie rock institutions (Remember Arcade Fire on the Neon Bible tour? It was great). On those relatively rare occasions when performances don't sell out, the venue hangs fake vines and brings in potted trees to the unsold sections, allowing them to blend in with the lush terrain of Griffith Park. With good natural acoustics, a capacity of about 6,000, and a history dating back to the 1930s, the Greek draws drastically different crowds from event to event, catering to the fans looking for a complete concert experience that's similar to the Hollywood Bowl but smaller in scale. 2700 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz, www.greektheatrela.com. — Philip Cosores

4. El Rey Theatre

The El Rey first opened in 1936 and for years operated as a first-run movie theater. It has served as a music venue since 1994 and now, under the aegis of Goldenvoice, caters to hip crowds by bringing in a mix of veterans (upcoming performers include Steve Earle and Godflesh) and rising names (Melody’s Echo Chamber, Cayucas). But it’s as much the Art Deco interior as the music that really makes this place magical. The interior looks just as it might have in the olden days, classy and rich, with deep red walls and glowing chandeliers. Combined with the sharp and current sounds playing onstage — for example, the last time I went, it was to see Low End Theory-bred beat conjurer Nosaj Thing — the net effect is that of being plopped into some kind of neo-noir Blade Runner cabaret, one where all the futurist nightmares have been replaced by chill crowds and really good sound. 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Miracle Mile, www.theelrey.com. — Peter Holslin

3. Hollywood Bowl

Other cities have natural amphitheaters, but unless you include the great ruins of ancient Greece, none has the history or allure of ours. First opened in 1922 and given its trademark bandshell in 1929, the Bowl has been an iconic venue ever since, and a badge of honor for the performers who've played it. Sinatra first appeared here in 1943; the Beatles, in '64. A giddy Adele called her mum from the stage in 2009, and Avicii colonized it for Generation EDM in 2013. In recent years, events like the Sound of Music sing-along and Bugs Bunny at the Symphony have become beloved annual events, as have the L.A. Philharmonic's frequent collaborations with pop, rock and electronic acts like Belle & Sebastian, Elvis Costello and M83. For many fans, packing a picnic is a Bowl tradition, but the numerous onsite food options are excellent, albeit pricey. Events that are part of the Bowl's regular season are BYOB, but lease events are not, so check your tickets before packing that chardonnay. And avoid the venue's only real downside — stacked parking — by taking the Metro or one of the many park-and-ride shuttles that leave from all over the region. 2301 Highland Ave., Hollywood Hills, www.hollywoodbowl.com. — Andy Hermann

See also: My Epic, Three-Hour Journey From Santa Monica to the Hollywood Bowl

2. The Troubadour

Doug Weston’s World Famous Troubadour — one of the few surviving classic Los Angeles music clubs — remains an unbeatable place to enjoy high-quality performances. Discriminating booking policy, great sight lines, first-rate sound, and it’s always easy to grab a quick drink at the front bar. And oh, the history: site of L.A. debuts by everyone from Billy Joe Shaver to Elton John to Guns N' Roses' classic lineup, with an atmosphere enhanced by the lingering infamy of John Lennon getting tossed for wearing a tampon as a hat, heckling, and stiffing his waitress (legend has it he snarled “Don’t you know who I am?” and the waitress replied, “Yeah. Some asshole with a Kotex on his head”). Perhaps the Troub is most notable for what it doesn’t have — staff with that appallingly arrogant, entitled attitude that seems to have infected about 90 percent of the competition. 9081 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, www.troubadour.com. — Jonny Whiteside

1. The Fonda Theatre

Built in 1926 and taken over by Goldenvoice in 2012, this Hollywood classic is the perfect setting for both rising artists and stalwarts holding communion with their most loyal fans. Restored in 2002 to its Roaring Twenties elegance, it packs a respectable 1,200 with moody lighting, a big dance floor, balcony seats and a rooftop bar. It’s just the right size: You can always find your people here without searching all night, and make new friends too, giving it the feeling of a party as well as a concert. The sound is top notch from anywhere in the room and it’s easier than most places to get close to the stage. Parking is ample nearby and the Metro is just two blocks away. The spacious rooftop works even better on a summer night, perfect for a chat or smoke, with a giant video screen so you'll know when the headliner goes on.

It's a favorite venue with big names looking for an underplay; in recent years, everyone from The Rolling Stones to Jack White to Radiohead have passed through. But it's the acts on the verge of superstardom that make the place special. Kids moshed to Justice playing “We Are Your Friends” here in 2007, and Lorde played just two weeks before “Royals” hit No. 1. Off-duty musicians love it, too. I once found myself sitting next to Moby scoping out the hipster disco of DFA’s Holy Ghost! It’s such secret moments at the Fonda that give it the edge. 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, www.fondatheatre.com. — Thomas Kelley

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