Planning a night out on the town? Whether you want to lounge alongside some live jazz or jam with the hottest tour booked at one of San Diego’s outdoor concert venues, the city is full of live music on any given night. At TakeLessons, we’re all about experiencing music and the arts, in every way possible. And there’s nothing quite like the rush you feel seeing a great band or the way a moving art exhibit can expand your creative mind.
Here are some of our favorite San Diego music venues to check out:
2501 Kettner Blvd
Little Italy, CA 92101
The indie rock go-to spot in San Diego, the Casbah has garnered national recognition for hosting bands such as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, MGMT, Franz Ferdinand, and The White Stripes. The venue celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier in January, with the city dubbing January 14th “Casbah Day” in its honor.
Noteworthy upcoming shows include Of Montreal on January 31st, Yuck on February 2nd, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. on February 27th. Bonus: Have any old records you’re not into anymore? Trade them in at the Casbah’s monthly Record Swap, a meetup of record lovers and sellers (plus DJs, drinks, and food!). The next one is Saturday, February 8th from 11am-5pm.
The Belly Up Tavern
143 South Cedros Avenue
Solana Beach, CA 92075
For those of you in North County, the Belly Up in Solana Beach is the place to be pretty much every weekend. Their concert schedule is always jam-packed with noteworthy artists and groups, typically of the blues, reggae, and jam band variety. The venue has been a live music staple since 1974, and is well-known for its intimate atmosphere, surf decor, and amazing acoustics. Just be warned: this place can get crowded. Upcoming shows include Ozomatli on January 24th and 25th, Pepper on February 4th and 5th, Ziggy Marley on February 19th and 20th, and Robert Randolph and the Family Band on February 26th.
Croce’s Park West
2760 Fifth Avenue,
San Diego, California 92103
Jazz cats, rejoice! This iconic restaurant recently moved from downtown to Banker’s Hill, but don’t worry – the move won’t affect its standing as one of the best spots for live jazz in San Diego. The restaurant/lounge showcases jazz bands and singer-songwriters from all genres Wednesday through Sunday every week. The decor alone is worth checking out, with photos and memorabilia from late jazz legend Jim Croce. Check out their website to view their events schedule.
House of Blues
1055 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
Because it’s part of a national chain, the House of Blues boasts the booking power needed to get big names of all genres, from pop to punk to blues. It also has one of the top sound systems around, and a large stage that provides a good view from pretty much anywhere inside. Start saving up for: Brandon Boyd and the Sons of the Sea on February 11th, Fan Halen on February 15th, and the John Butler Trio on February 23rd.
The Shout House
655 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
If you’re looking for something a little rowdier, the Shout House is the place to be downtown. Talented musicians tickle the ivories nightly at this dueling piano bar, covering popular music from the 1950s to today. Get ready to sing along, embarrass your friends, and ogle at the improv abilities at play.
2400 Kettner Boulevard
San Diego, 92101
This wine bar is perfect for a relaxing night on the town, with live music providing the background sounds on weekends. Its prime location in Little Italy and spacious split-level design make it a great place for both large and small groups. Check out The Innovators of Motown & Beyond on February 7th, Louis Armstrong & Ella Fitzgerald duets on February 13th, and Arbelaez & Dove’s Battle of the Saxes on February 21st.
Sleep Train Amphitheater
2050 Entertainment Circle
Chula Vista, California 91911
Although concert season at the Sleep Train Amphitheater (formerly Coors Amphitheater, and then Cricket Wireless Amphitheater) doesn’t pick up until summertime, this large outdoor San Diego music venue is definitely worth noting. Whether you want to pay top dollar to be up close and personal, or save some dough and spread out on the lawn, it’s hard to find a bad seat here. Kings of Leon just announced a show on March 22nd, but more artists for the 2014 season will likely be announced in the next few months.
3350 Sports Arena Blvd.
Midway, San Diego, CA92110
Underage? No worries – hit SOMA for some great concerts. The venue boasts two rooms: a smaller room for local acts, and a larger hall for big-name touring bands, mostly ska, alternative, and punk. Coming up: Killing the Messenger on February 8th, Young the Giant on February 9th, and Pentatonix on February 25th. Bonus: are you part of up-and-coming band? SOMA is a huge supporter of local acts who want to grow their fan base. Drop your demo tape off and you could be chosen to play on stage.
3343 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA, 92116
Want something a bit more low-key? Stop by Lestat’s for acoustic sets and open mic nights. It’s a chill place to lounge and enjoy coffee and other treats, while enjoying nightly entertainment. The upcoming schedule for this intimate venue includes Dusty Brough on January 30th, Life Leone on February 5th, and an all-ages open mic night every Monday.
Readers, what are some of your favorite San Diego music venues? What upcoming concerts are you looking forward to? Leave a comment and let us know!
– Suzy S., TakeLessons staff member and blogger
Photo by Porcupiny