The San Francisco Jazz Scene: Venues, Festivals, and More

San Francisco Jazz Music ScenceNo doubt about it, San Francisco loves jazz! The City by the Bay is home to one of the most thriving jazz scenes in the country. With numerous radio stations playing everything from big band to post bop to the latest smooth jazz, an almost year-round slate of jazz concerts and festivals, and some of the best listening rooms in the world, jazz in San Francisco is not only surviving, it’s thriving!

Bay Area Jazz Radio

The San Francisco Bay Area has many jazz radio stations broadcasting everything from Big Band to smooth jazz. Many colleges in the area also feature jazz radio shows playing both the masters and the latest local and national up-and-coming talent. Here are some to check out:

  • KCEA 89.1 FM – The love of jazz in San Francisco starts early at this high school-run jazz station! KCEA is broadcast from Menlo-Atherton High School and features Classic Big Band jazz from the 1930s and 40s.
  • Radio Sausalito 1610 AM – Even the AM side of the dial features jazz in San Francisco; Radio Sausalito plays “Foot Stompin’ Jazz” 24/7!
  • KCSM Jazz 91.1 – A listener-supported radio station, Jazz 91 features the best in local, national, and classic jazz, along with specialty shows.
  • KISQ Smooth Jazz 98.1 FM – If you prefer contemporary jazz, KISQ is the station for you!

Jazz Concerts Around the Bay

San Francisco boasts a number of concert halls and alternative venues that host amazing performances year-round. Here are a few of the best to check out:

  • Sonoma-Cutrer Vinyards – This vineyard is home to the Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards Jazzy Summer Nights, a series of Saturday evening concerts featuring the best local talent along with national and international jazz stars.
  • SF JAZZ Center – The SF JAZZ Center is the first concert hall of its type in the United States: a freestanding performance venue featuring flexible seating and staging. Built specifically for jazz music, it brings jazz artists from around the world for concerts and residencies year-round.
  • BCA/Rafiki Wellness Center – Home to a yearly Jazz & Blues Concert Series, an annual event featuring the best local talent San Francisco has to offer!
  • Old First Presbyterian Church – This venue is the home of the Old First Concert Series, which features a mix of jazz and classical performances throughout the summer. It’s a great place to catch a show!

Jazz Festivals

San Francisco hosts a large number of music festivals, many of which feature jazz performances, as well as several festivals dedicated solely to jazz.  Here are two of the most popular:

  • San Francisco Jazz Festival – The LA Times calls this the preeminent event of its kind in the United States – it’s a pretty big deal! Featuring over 40 performances over the course of 12 days, the San Francisco Jazz Festival brings artists from around the world to perform.
  • Fillmore Jazz Festival – Every summer more than 100,000 enthusiastic fans descend on San Francisco for the Fillmore Jazz Festival, which celebrates a prosperous tradition of jazz, culture, and cuisine against the picturesque backdrop of Fillmore Street.

Jazz Clubs In and Around San Francisco

Jazz in San Francisco can be found almost everywhere, with so many restaurants, bars, lounges, and hotels hosting live jazz on a regular (or semi-regular) basis in San Francisco and the surrounding area. Here are some of our favorites to check out:

  • Club Deluxe – Located on historic Haight Street, this intimate space offers amazing music most nights and weekend afternoons.
  • The Jazzschool – This Berkeley-based school is devoted to teaching the art of jazz, and also offers fantastic jazz concerts on a regular basis. It’s a great spot to hear the masters alongside the best up-and-coming musicians!
  • The Sound Room – Located across the bridge in Oakland, the Sound Room is home to Bay Area Jazz and Arts, a non-profit dedicated to fostering music appreciation through intimate performances. The Sound Room is a great place to get up-close and personal with the musicians every Friday and Saturday night.
  • Yoshi’s – With two locations in San Francisco and Oakland, Yoshi’s hosts the best of the genre. You can’t go wrong catching a show here!

This is just a small sample of jazz in San Francisco. No matter what style of jazz you’re into, you’re sure to find it in this amazing city!

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5 Outside Lands Acts You Won’t Want to Miss

Do you love food, wine, art, and awesome music? San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music Festival is just the ticket for a can’t-miss summer experience in the Bay Area. With the 2014 festival coming up August 8-10, here are five acts you can’t miss in this year’s lineup:

Imelda May

Imelda May

If you’re tired of the Top 40 pop princesses of today, Irish-born Imelda May’s rockabilly sound may be just the spice you need to refresh your spirit and get your feet moving. Her 1950s-esque style might seem a bit retro in 2014, but her live show is anything but a cabaret act.

Probably best known for her 2010 hit “Mayhem“, Imelda has also given some classics like “Tainted Love” her signature upbeat rockabilly treatment. She and her band (with her husband on lead guitar) aren’t slowing down at all, with suitably wild tracks on this year’s new album. Catch her at Outside Lands on Sunday.

Night Terrors of 1927


While the name may seem unfamiliar to you, a first listen of Night Terrors of 1927’s synth-pop single “Dust and Bones” proves these up-and-comers deserve a place on stage at this year’s Outside Lands Festival. Both members of the duo have already put in time with bands like Rilo Kiley and The Honorary Title, so it’s no surprise that the rest of their debut EP is just as fully-formed as that first track. Night Terrors of 1927 will likely deliver a Friday set that’s worthy of their high-drama, synth-driven rockstar ambitions.

Paolo Nutini

Paolo Nutini

Paolo Nutini has seemed poised for major success for a long time now. The Scottish singer-songwriter’s signature ethereal, yet powerful tone caught critics’ ears during his Abbey Road performance of “Iron Sky”, even drawing praise from Adele.

Paolo kept his fans waiting five years for his latest album, Caustic Love, a layoff supposedly owing to a painful breakup with his childhood sweetheart. The album starts off with a track that’s nothing short of timeless and just keeps getting better. Catch him at Outside Lands on Sunday.

The Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips

Is there any band more tailor-made to the atmosphere of a summer festival than The Flaming Lips? Oklahoma City’s most famous musical export has long been one of those under-appreciated bands that only seems to fit with massive crowds and elaborate stages as part of a festival line-up; layered, psychedelic arrangements with space rock elements don’t always translate to mainstream audiences.

Charismatic frontman Wayne Coyne is nothing if not inventive – unlike some other 53-year-olds who might go quietly into the night of cult fame, Coyne recruited Miley Cyrus as a fan and struck up a social media friendship with the star who, to hear them tell it, wasn’t such an incongruous collaborator when they did “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” live at the Billboard Awards.

Miley (probably) won’t join Coyle onstage at the Outside Lands Festival on Sunday, but you can bet his signature human hamster ball method of crowd surfing will make an appearance.



True hip-hop fans know it’s not all about the songs you hear on Top 40 radio stations or dance club sound systems. Case in point: Minneapolis-based Atmosphere, consisting of rapper Slug (Sean Daley) and DJ/producer Ant (Anthony Davis). Since 1989, Atmosphere has drawn in fans with their talented storytelling, with each song introducing an episode in a vivid character’s life and metaphorical lyrics that stand head and shoulders above most mainstream rappers. Catch Atmosphere’s set on Saturday.

If these acts don’t get you excited, the Outside Lands Festival is also playing host to Chvrches, Warpaint, and Lykke Li, all of whom have already received enthusiastic recommendations elsewhere on this very blog. Have fun at this year’s festival, and let us know who you enjoyed the most!

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Newsletter Sign UpPhotos by Phil RichardsNight Terrors of 1927 Facebook page, jackie.h, Pieter Morlion, Erik B, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Concerts in San Francisco: Inside the Classical Music Scene

Classical Music Concert In San FranciscoWith so many different types of music in San Francisco and so many cultural activities to explore, it can be easy to forget that SF has an incredible classical music scene! Here’s your guide to classical concerts in San Francisco, plus other ways to listen to Wagner, Haydn, Stravinsky, Bach, and Chopin while living in the City by the Bay.

Classical Music on the Radio in San Francisco

The radio is your daily connection to classical music, whether you’re commuting in your car, working at your desk, jogging with headphones, or relaxing before bed. These are the best stations for classical music in San Francisco:

  • KDFC 90.3 FM: KDFC is the giant of classical music in San Francisco. They play classical music and opera day and night, with special programs such as Baroque by the Bay and Mozart in the Morning.

  • KALW 91.7 FM: With a wide variety of programming, classical music isn’t the only thing featured on this public radio station in SF, but it’s a big part. Their Open Air show hosts interviews with renowned conductors and live orchestras. Revolutions Per Minute plays classical and contemporary music on vintage vinyl records, and The Record Shelf discusses the lives and techniques of legendary classical composers while playing their music.

Live Classical Music in San Francisco

After listening to the greatest works of Beethoven and Bach on your radio all week, when the weekend comes, it’s time to go experience the magic of a live orchestra. Luckily, classical music concerts in San Francisco are easy to find if you know where to look. Here are the top venues for classical music:

  • San Francisco Chamber Orchestra: Sometimes, instead of hearing a full orchestra, it’s nice to focus on just a few instruments and enjoy the intimacy of a small venue. The San Francisco Chamber Orchestra plays free concerts of classical chamber music, usually in the Nourse Theater (275 Hayes Street), the First Congregational Church in Nob Hill (2345 Channing Way) and the First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto (625 Hamilton Avenue). They also have ticketed events at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse in downtown Berkeley (2020 Addison Street).

  • Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra: This orchestra lets you travel into the past and hear classical music in its original form. They use instruments created in antique styles and play in the manner of the time period each classical work was composed. Their concerts are held at the Herbst Theatre in Civic Center (401 Van Ness Avenue).

  • San Francisco Symphony: The San Francisco Symphony is one of the best in the world. Music fans can experience the glory of classical music at the Davies Symphony Hall in Civic Center.

  • Midsummer Mozart Festival: This festival is all about Mozart! Performances are held around the Bay Area, with concerts in San Francisco taking place at the Florence Gould Theater in Outer Richmond (100 34th Avenue).

  • American Bach Soloists: This group hosts both a concert series that lasts from December through May and a summer music festival in July. In addition to Bach, they also perform the works of Handel, Vivaldi, and other greats. The festival and many of their seasonal concerts are held at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (50 Oak Street).

San Francisco’s vibrant classical music scene is as good as any in the country. Check out these venues, festivals, and radio stations to hear some of the best music in history. Enjoy!


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Planning an Event? How to Find the Best San Francisco Bands for Hire

Tips On How To Hire Music Bands In San FranciscoFor decades, San Francisco bands have catered to the full range of musical tastes across the City by the Bay, playing in clubs, big concert halls and stadiums, and intimate dive bars.

It’s a thrilling, intense, and creative scene encompassing everything from local acts to global names every night of the week. If you’re hunting for the next big thing in music to play at your next event, it’s easier than you might think. Below are some suggestions for finding the hottest San Francisco bands.

Be Social

Get to know the local music scene online, and make the most of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Most bands in San Francisco have a social media presence, or you can also follow venues and bars to stay up to to date on the music scene. You could also post a call-out via social media asking if anyone has recently heard a great band play in the city that’s available to book.

Alternatively, there are plenty of blogs, like SFCritic, that review live shows and document the local music scene, attending scores of gigs so you don’t have to, and featuring band interviews and song downloads.

You can typically use social media to contact San Francisco bands and musicians, or search for their official website, where they’ll usually list out booking details.

Read All About It

In addition to blogs and social media, there are many websites and magazines devoted to San Francisco bands and music, from the SF Weekly to the Bay Bridged, a leading source of information for the city’s indie music vibes. Use these sources to learn more about local bands before you make your decision, and also check online to listen to samples of their music. Remember – the music can make or break your event, so you want to make sure it’s a good fit!

Go Listen

It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it! While listening to downloads or streamed songs online are a good way to eliminate bands you won’t want to hire, there’s no substitute for seeing your candidates in action. Go check out as many bands in the city as you can; that way, you are effectively auditioning them before approaching them.

To book bands directly, try a classified listing website, such as the Craigslist page for the Bay Area, or a city guide like SF Station, which has been around for 18 years and carries extensive listings and reviews. The city’s version of Gig Masters also carries details of bands for hire, with specific sections dedicated to jazz and wedding bands. The website Back Page is another excellent place to find advertisements from local musicians available to play at events.

Finally, try to meet the performers in person, if you can. Have all your questions ready for all the San Francisco bands you are trying out, from what drinks and food they expect to be included in the deal, how song requests will be handled, and how long they will play. Once you have the details you need, planning your event and entertaining your guests with great live music will be a breeze!


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Top 5 Music Venues in The Mission

San Francisco is known for its active nightlife, hip crowds, and awesome music scene. The Mission District in particular is home to some of the best San Francisco concert venues, ranging from tiny, hidden alleyway secrets to sweeping concert halls. Whether you’re looking for an intimate experience or a crazy night out, there’s a music venue perfect for you. Check out our top five suggestions below for the best concert venues in the Mission:

1. The Lost Church

Lost Church

65 Capp Street, San Francisco, CA 94103 

If you’re looking for a unique, historic venue that has stayed true to itself over the years, you can find it in The Lost Church. This humble haven has been the center of many an artsy endeavor in the San Francisco area. Originally built in 1904 and refurbished in the late ’70s, this intimate venue is also a multimedia production studio; it features a very small stage under low lighting with a simple red curtain backdrop, and just a few rows of chairs, where audiences enjoy acts of both local and national notoriety.

2. Brick & Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

This classy little venue features old-school decor, including a breathtaking chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Conveniently within walking distance from BART, the Brick & Mortar Music Hall is an especially comfortable space for a new concertgoer. This old venue features fantastic sound and an eclectic but well-niched taste in mostly indie and singer-songwriter acts, making it a great place to catch an acoustic set. The drinks and cover costs are notably inexpensive for the area, and lines inside are kept short thanks to the multiple bars.

3. Amnesia


853 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110

Amnesia offers a versatile and worthwhile concert experience. Regular DJs fill the time between themed sets on various nights of the week, including jazz open jams on Wednesdays, bluegrass on Mondays, and comedy open mic nights on Tuesdays. Known for showcasing eclectic and unusual acts, Amnesia is the kind of place where you’ll find unusual instruments, dance, theater, and other interesting variations on your typical bar entertainment. The crowd it attracts is diverse and laid-back, less rowdy than your typical bar – notice the sign on their wall that reads “BE NICE OR LEAVE – THIS IS A GROWN FOLKS’ ESTABLISHMENT” – so if you’re looking for a night on the town that feels more post-college than college, this is a great hangout for you.

4. Mighty

119 Utah Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

This somewhat-hidden venue is a cross between a dive bar and a club, featuring predominantly guest DJs rather than full bands. The two full bars in two separate rooms minimize the lines and allow crowds to take in two atmospheres for one cheap cover charge. The audience is often “regulars” in the area, as the venue has a strong vibe of community. Unlike other San Francisco concert venues, Mighty boasts a reasonable amount of free parking nearby.

5. Bottom of the Hill


1233 17th Street, San Francisco, CA 94107

This friendly neighborhood venue exemplifies the best of San Francisco, featuring original music every night of the week, a great food menu, and exceptional sound thanks to the room’s ideal acoustics. Bands and performers represent sounds across indie, alternative, folk, funk, punk, pop, and rock genres, and the venue invites performers to mingle with the crowd between and after their sets. Also, this is a rare venue that hosts 18+ shows, so your younger friends don’t have to miss out!

When you’re close to the Mission, there’s something exciting to do every night of the week. Break out of your shell and try a new experience, explore some new music, and have a great night at one of these San Francisco concert venues. You won’t regret it!


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Your Roadmap for Booking Shows in San Francisco

Tips On Booking Shows In San Francisco The City by the Bay is a major hub for the arts, and music is certainly no exception! This metropolis offers numerous venues and opportunities to book shows in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. First, however, you’ll need to learn the ropes! here’s how to get started…

Find Your Sound

Making music is a pretty vital first step to playing live music in San Francisco, so it’s an excellent place to start. What is your sound?  Who inspires you? What is your creative direction? The easiest way to answer these questions as a band is to play together and feel what works naturally.  Challenge yourselves to go outside your comfort zone, and try styles of music that might seem intimidating. Explore not only sound, but also lyrics, and tap into each band member’s individual skills and interests.  The more songs you create, the more choices you’ll have for deciding which ones are best suited for promoting your group.

Produce a Demo

Once you’ve found your sound, you’ll need to record it.  You’ll need a demo to book shows, but don’t spend all your money on this step – that’s a common beginner’s mistake, and it’s unnecessary.  Producers and booking contacts understand that demos will have a rough feel, and that’s perfectly acceptable.  Choose three or four of your best songs, and either book a studio to record them, or record on your own with your laptop.  This is where networking can prove beneficial – consider reaching out to existing contacts who can help you with this step to make sure your sound is captured perfectly.

Create a Website

With modern webpage hosting, setting up a website for your music is so simple.  You’ll find numerous platforms with various designs and styles, and all you have to do is a pay a fee for the site, and plug in your information.  Make sure it captures your creative vision, then upload your music, and proofread carefully to ensure that it looks professional.  Update the site regularly with upcoming shows, photos, or blog posts, and link your social media sites to your main page.

Establish a Fan Base

Okay, let’s be honest.  When you’re a beginning band, your fan base may just include some close friends and proud parents.  Don’t worry – that’s a great starting point!  Don’t fret over having a posse that rivals Jimmy Buffett’s.  Instead, work on increasing your fan base through word of mouth.  Hang up catchy fliers inviting people out to your show.  Better yet, make the rounds through town to introduce yourself to potential fans (and bring those fliers with you).  Post every single show you play on social media, and network away.

Prepare Your Press Kit

A press kit is a great marketing tool in addition to your recorded demo or CD – at least until you get your own publicist! You’ll want to include a band photo, a biography page, contact information, interviews, articles, and reviews.  If no one has written about you yet, seek some help from friends to submit articles to local newspapers, independent publications, and blogs.  The Bay Bridged, for example, is a fantastic independently produced podcast and blog featuring shows in San Francisco, with a focus on new talent. To submit your music for review, simply head to their website and fill out the electronic form with links to your music. The Bay Bridged also accepts albums by mail, although the electronic form must be completed first.

Practice, Practice, Practice

That whole adage about practice making perfect exists for a reason.  You may have the most talented band that the music industry has ever heard.  The fact is, however, raw talent needs practice to really refine.  You owe it to your craft to work on it constantly – and don’t be afraid of criticism! Take any feedback you receive graciously and allow it to fuel you forward creatively.

Get Comfortable Performing Live

Open mic nights are a wonderful way to practice performing in front of crowds.  The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, a nonprofit community arts organization located at 2020 Addison Street in neighboring Berkeley, has frequent open mic nights, and the venue embraces a wide variety of musical styles.  This is an ideal place to email or call about potential bookings to start playing shows in San Francisco.

Thursday open mic nights are also held at the Bazaar Café, located at 5927 California Street. Open daily for food and music, this cafe is a great local spot for getting your sounds heard.  The Center SF within the Lower Haight neighborhood also offers open mic nights on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Located at 548 Fillmore Street, this venue provides 25 to 30 slots for each open mic session.

The Riptide is ideal for getting your feet wet, so to speak, in the live music arena. This beachy venue at 3639 Taraval Street features scheduled local acts and regular open mic nights. For information regarding booking, submit your band information and a link to your music via Riptide’s online submission form.

Continue Your Education

You’ll need to stay up to date on what venues are looking for, what they require for booking inquiries, and what advice they can provide for getting started.  Don’t be afraid to seek advice from the best in the industry, either.  As referenced on the club’s virtual scrapbook, Rolling Stone magazine (issue 813, May 27th, 1999) dubbed Bottom of the Hill “the best place to hear live music in San Francisco” – so, that’s saying something. This well-known venue, located at 1233 17th Street, provides excellent information for both established bands and up-and-comers, so its booking information is well worth a read. Once you’re confident and comfortable performing in front of a crowd, this is a great place to promote your music.

With some hard work, confidence, talent, and perseverance, you’re sure to find the right venue to book shows in San Francisco.  What a beautiful place to make music!


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San Francisco Music Venues: 5 Spots Where Musicians Got Their Start

San Francisco Most Popular Music VenuesThe eclectic sounds of San Francisco seem to pour out of virtually every street corner bar and concert venue. And it’s at some of these local hot spots that Billboard-topping artists got their start. Music festivals, nightly live performances, and a constantly rotating stream of big acts make their way through the Bay Area on a regular basis. So where can you go to catch an intimate performance by the greats, or hear the “next big thing” before they get famous? Here are five of our favorite San Francisco music venues that should definitely make your ‘to-do’ list:

1. The Fillmore

No list of San Francisco music venues would be complete without a reference to The Fillmore – the spot that introduced icons like The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and more. Any venue can luck into giving a star their big break now and again, but The Fillmore has been ‘The’ spot for new music artists for decades. Since its opening, it has kept its historic vibe and nightclub ambiance. The purple chandeliers continue to shed light on the best and brightest musicians of today.

2. 924 Gilman Street Project

For a truly unique musical experience, you can’t beat the 924 Gilman Street Project. Started in 1986, this all-volunteer project has given rise to many punk icons, such as Green Day, the Foo Fighters, and The Offspring. As part of the philosophy of the venue, here you can enjoy a night out that does not include drugs, alcohol, or violence. In fact, bands that use lyrics that promote hate and division are not allowed to play at this iconic venue. Don’t be fooled by the punk theme, either. This venue caters to all sorts of rock sounds, from ska to metal.

3. Cafe du Nord

Intimate, cool, and hipster vibes float through the air at Cafe du Nord. Once a prohibition-era speakeasy, this venue retains that same vibe today, while hosting many internationally known musicians and up-and-coming bands almost every night of the week. Many big names got their start here, as well, including The Sounds, Noisettes and the John Butler Trio.

4. Great American Music Hall

Have you ever heard of Journey? Even if you’re not sure of the name, you’ll likely recognize their music: their single “Don’t Stop Believin'” was the top-selling iTunes catalog track in 2009 – although it was first released back in 1981! Their music still gets incredible radio play today, years after the band got their start at the Great American Music Hall. Formerly a burlesque club, then a jazz club, it is now a popular indie rock venue that holds the distinction of being the city’s oldest club – even surviving the 1906 quake.

5. Bottom of the Hill

For a stop that doesn’t always make the list of must-see San Francisco music venues, be sure to visit Bottom of the Hill. Good food, great drinks, and friendly service round out the night as you catch small indie groups; the venue is known for hosting many artists and bands before they were famous, such as Green Day, Death Cab for Cutie, and The White Stripes. The Bottom of the Hill has also won the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s Best Of The Bay award for Rock Venue several times.


Each of these venues offers a unique atmosphere and sound, making any of them a great choice to catch a show. If you want a large concert venue, check out The Fillmore or the Great American Music Hall. For more intimate performances, Cafe du Nord and Bottom of the Hill are the places for you. For something in between, with an atmosphere as unique as the music lineup, try the 924 Gilman Street Project. These are just a few of the San Francisco music venues out there, so don’t stop after hitting this list!


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From the Fillmore to Outside Lands: Your SF Concerts Survival Guide

SF Concert TipsSan Francisco is definitely not short on places to go, things to see, and people to meet. With so many awesome music venues around town, such as The Warfield, The Regency Ballroom, The Great American Music Hall, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, and The Fillmore, you’ll find tons of opportunities to check out SF concerts, whether you’re a resident or a tourist!

There is nothing quite like the experience of a concert. But before you head out, take a look at these 10 survival tips to help you get through any of the SF concerts or festivals you’re attending:

1.  Wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

While you may want to look your best at the SF concerts you’re going to, heels and dress shoes just won’t cut it. By the end of the festivities, you’re going to be hobbling back to the car with sore feet! And wearing sandals is a good way to end up with crushed toes. Instead, wear a comfortable pair of closed-toed shoes.

Also, although it may be warm during the day, remember that SF concerts at outdoor venues can get cold at night. Be sure you have a jacket or another item of clothing that you can throw on when the weather starts to get cooler.

2. Don’t forget your tickets!

If you need to print out your tickets, do it the night before. And make sure to put the concert tickets in your wallet or purse right away! It’s all too easy to set them on the counter next to your keys and still end up forgetting them.

3. Wear deodorant.

Time to get real: when you’re dancing with hundreds of other people, you’re going to get sweaty! And with very little space between you and the people around you, the last thing you want is to smell funky. So before you leave the house, don’t forget to put on that deodorant!

4. Bring the right accessories.

Not all SF concerts are created equal. Think about that when gathering your belongings. Sunglasses are a great idea for daytime, but not for a night concert. It is easy to push them up on your head, but that is also an easy way to lose them. If you need to bring them, buy a cheap pair that you won’t feel bummed about losing.

If you’re bringing a camera, you may want to take some special precautions. In a crowd of people having fun and letting loose, a camera becomes an easy target for accidental damage. Make sure you have it attached to your body somehow, such as with a cord around your wrist or arm.

Remember that at most venues, your bags will be checked when entering. Bringing as few items as possible will help you get through the lines quicker. Also keep in mind that in a large crowd, it’s easy for people to grab your purse or bag. You may not want to bring a bag at all; simply tuck your essentials in your pocket for safekeeping.

5. Factor in food and drinks.

If you’re attending SF concerts or festivals like the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival, which takes place in the summer, make sure you stay hydrated. Check the venue’s website for specific rules, as some allow sealed water bottles, and others may not allow any outside food or drinks. If you plan to eat at the venue, keep in mind that prices may be higher than you expect. A good tip is to arrive early so you can eat somewhere outside the venue beforehand.

6. Designate a meeting point.

Sometimes in all the excitement of live music, it can be easy to lose track of your friends. When you arrive at a concert or festival, take a moment to look around and find an easily accessed meeting point, just in case anybody in the group gets lost.

7. Sunscreen and shade are a must for the outdoors.

If you are headed to an SF concert or festival that is outdoors, such as the annual San Francisco Union Street Festival or Outside Lands, it’s important to be prepared for the heat. Bring your shades and sunscreen. If you are out having fun and you feel a little faint, seek shade and water ASAP.

8. Be mature.

If someone around you is acting inappropriately, don’t pick a fight – you’ll run the risk of getting kicked out of the venue. Act like an adult and simply ignore concert-goers who are acting disrespectfully.

9. Stand behind someone of equal or lesser height.

If you’re on the shorter side, it can be pretty discouraging to get stuck behind someone really tall! If you want to secure a good spot in the crowd, consider getting to the venue early and staking your claim, or move to the side of the stage, where there are often fewer people to maneuver around.

10. Most importantly, put down those cell phones and enjoy!

You may want to take that occasional snapshot or video for your social network – but don’t get wrapped up in the event updates, texts, Instagrams, and hashtags. Pocket that smartphone or secure it in your purse. All too often these days we miss out on the fun of just being in the moment. If you want to get the most out of those SF concerts, just put the phone down and enjoy!


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5 San Francisco Concerts That Changed Music Forever

Most Influential San Francisco ConcertsThe history of live music in the United States is rich with groundbreaking discoveries of artistic potential, inspiring stories of artists overcoming opposition, and the innovation of new musical styles and genres. Coastal cities, particularly, have been the birthplace and incubator for many distinctively American genres, ever since the jazz era.

Along with the important origins of rock, metal, and R&B styles throughout Florida and the Northeast, recognition is also owed to the West Coast – and not just Los Angeles and other centers of show business. The San Francisco Bay Area has played a large part in many amazing periods in music history, and has been one pivotal center of change and evolution for most contemporary live music genres. Read on for a chronological journey through five notable San Francisco concerts, and learn how these shows helped to make live music what it is today!

  • Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable at the Fillmore Auditorium – May 27-29, 1966 

A performance art piece integrating multiple mediums, psychedelic and political themes, avant-garde films, and light shows might not seem new and unusual today, but in 1966 Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable was quite an extreme advancement of the musical and theatrical arts. Along with performances by the Velvet Underground and Nico, the shows featured screenings of his films, and performances by artists from his famous Factory. (Check out the classic concert poster!)

Today’s Fillmore Auditorium has, in fact, been forever altered by the show! Danny Williams, Warhol’s lighting director, influenced many innovations for rock show lighting that have changed the industry ever since, and the Fillmore Auditorium invited him back later to design and implement more permanent light show structures.

  • The Runaways play their final show at the Cow Palace – New Year’s Eve, 1978 

“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” is one of the most famous and recognizable songs in modern music. Did you know, though, that the Queen of Rock herself, Joan Jett, was in an all-girl group before she became famous with that great song? The Runaways, a manufactured group most recognized for the hit “Cherry Bomb”, were better known in Japan than in the States, but after their goodbye show in 1978, they were destined to gain much more attention as the group from which Joan Jett broke free. It seems there are few complaints among fans about the Runaways running away; Jett’s ensuing career as Joan Jett and the Blackhearts spawned Blackheart Records, and also gave us hits like “I Hate Myself For Lovin’ You” and “Bad Reputation”.

  • Dead Kennedys play at the San Francisco Deaf Club – March 3, 1979 

The Dead Kennedys have never shied away from controversy, even from the very beginning of their long career. Early on in the hardcore punk scene, the Dead Kennedys and frontman Jello Biafra made powerful political statements, most notably with the 1979 song “California Über Alles”. A reference to Germany’s former national anthem, “California Über Alles” is a direct and heated criticism of the politics of Governor Jerry Brown. (They clearly had no regrets, as in later years they released “We’ve Got A Bigger Problem Now”, a version of the song rebooted to attack Ronald Reagan.)

Along with bringing this still-famous and oft-covered message to the Bay Area punk universe, the Dead Kennedys also recorded their “Live at the Deaf Club” album on this night, which despite not being released until 2004, has become a treasured piece of their work for many fans. It contains works not recorded anywhere else, including their song “Gaslight” and a unique disco version of “Kill the Poor”.

  • San Francisco’s Mabuhay Gardens hosts the final stop of Metallica’s first major tour – July 20, 1984 

Heavy metal, as a broad genre, is essentially the property of Europe and South America. However, the United States has made its voice heard in not just the execution of great heavy metal musical works, but also in the formation of various subgenres. One of the most identifiable sounds in metal is “West Coast thrash”, best represented by the famous Big Four: Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, and of course Metallica.

Metallica’s formation was primarily in Los Angeles at first, but the lineup was completed in San Francisco, and the band’s first major tour visited San Francisco on three separate dates including its closing night. Supporting acts included Raven, Anthrax, and Exodus, all important to the definition of thrash, and the tour as a whole helped spread West Coast thrash and establish the sound of the subgenre for all time.

  • Neil Young steps in to save the Pearl Jam show at Polo Fields – June 24, 1995 

Music history is full of amazing collaborations, including some that might seem at first unlikely. Neil Young released the collaborative album Mirror Ball with grunge group Pearl Jam on June 27, 1995, but before that, he made a rather unplanned appearance in one of the group’s live sets.

Fan accounts online suggest that Eddie Vedder looked healthy and normal when the set started, but that he became ill several songs into the night. Once Neil Young took the stage, that lucky audience was exposed to a number of the songs that had been prepared for the new album. Grunge music is known as “the Seattle sound” for good reason, but this night was a major defining moment for the inclusion of grunge music in the Bay Area scene. It also brought together diverse audiences (including fans of punk opener Bad Religion) for a unique experience that united fans of many seemingly very disparate genres.

As you can see, live music is like anything else in art – it’s practically inexhaustible, and new possibilities are always created, even as more and more ideas are realized. It’s never too late to get involved with music, whether you love to attend San Francisco concerts, want to pick up a new or long-neglected instrument, or maybe just discover new bands from home. We hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of historic San Francisco concerts!



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Photo by Rob Lee

5 Events That Helped Shape the SF Music Scene

5 Events That Contributed To Shaping San Francisco's Music SceneAnyone who has followed or studied the progress of the SF music scene over the years knows that it’s an extremely eclectic one. Bands from all kinds of genres have made their home in San Francisco, and many of them have made it big. Read on to learn about several events that helped shape the scene over the years and made San Francisco music what is it today:

1. Jazz and Blues in the Fillmore District

During the 1950s, the Fillmore District was a mecca for jazz and blues. Jimbo’s Bop City was one of the most important venues of the time, playing host to acts such as Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis, which made a huge difference to the way music was played and appreciated in the city, as jazz and blues became more acceptable to the mainstream and were no longer seen as subversive. Blues is said to be the basis for all modern rock music, so it’s possible that without the venues in the Fillmore District, the “San Francisco Sound” would never have developed (more on this style below). Jazz and blues continue to be popular in the SF music scene today, with venues such as Biscuits and Blues and Savanna Jazz leading the way.

2. Mime Troupe Benefit at the Fillmore Auditorium – December 10, 1965

One of the first great popular music scenes to come out of SF was what’s now referred to as the San Francisco Sound. The San Francisco Sound was groundbreaking at the time and combined a number of influences, including jazz, funk, soul and rock ‘n’ roll, which created a psychedelic sound. Bands belonging to this movement mainly came from the Haight-Ashbury district and were associated with the hippie movement.

One of the defining moments of this movement was the show at the Fillmore Auditorium on December 10, 1965, when a number of young bands (who would later go on to be stars of the scene) played together. This was the Grateful Dead’s very first show under that name (they had previously been known as The Warlocks), and they played with a number of other bands, including Jefferson Airplane and The Great Society.

3. The Formation of the Dead Kennedys

While the Dead Kennedys may not have have been the first punk band in San Francisco, they were probably the most influential on the SF music scene in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when they started an influx of punk in the area. Their sound started out following a more traditional punk style, but soon morphed into hardcore punk. This proved to be an inspiration to a number of other SF bands, and a fairly decent hardcore punk scene arose, featuring bands such as Flipper, Whipping Boy, and Crucifix.

4. Metallica Moving to San Francisco

Although Metallica started out in LA in 1983, they decided to make the move to San Francisco. LA’s loss was a gain for the SF music scene because it helped encourage the burgeoning thrash scene in the city. We all know that Metallica went on to become a household name, but other popular thrash bands from the Bay Area include Death Angel and Testament. While the scene may have died down in the early ’90s, ex-members of some thrash bands went on to form new bands and popularize other genres, such as groove metal.

5. Modern Punk

By the mid-1980s, bands such as Dead Kennedys had all broken up and some people felt like the punk movement was dead. However, San Francisco proved that punk hadn’t died, but had merely been taking a nap, when bands such as the Swingin Utters and Jawbreaker became popular. The East Bay punk movement also helped to shape the SF music scene, as a lot of the East Bay bands frequently played in the city, at venues such as Club Cocodrie and in front of the 16th and Mission BART station, and influenced bands from the city. This SF music scene was a precursor to some of the hardcore and emo movements that came about in ’90s and early 2000s.

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