Whether you live in Los Angeles or are visiting for vacation, you probably know that the city is one of the premier cultural capitals of the United States.  Every one knows that most of the country’s popular movies and television shows are shot in and around Hollywood, but for the past few decades, L.A. has also been home to one of the most thriving music scenes in the United States.

If you’re new to Los Angeles, unaware of the numerous music venues or planning on seeing a concert during your stay in the city, here is a guide of the most prominent live music venues, organized by area.

 

West Hollywood/The Sunset Strip

West Hollywood is perhaps the most iconic area for live music in Los Angeles.  During the 70s and 80s the infamous Sunset Strip on Sunset Blvd. exploded with rock n’ roll groups and extreme debauchery.  Most of the famous clubs from that era are still in existence (and crowded) today.  If you’re looking for a night out in the city’s most historic venues, head to one of the following clubs.

The Roxy Theatre: The Roxy Theatre is owned by frequent Lakers courtside seat inhabitant Lou Adler and operated by his son, Nic.  The venue hosts a variety of groups, from rock to hip-hop to dance.  The building also houses On The Rox, a smaller bar/venue above the main venue that features shows.  The Roxy is also located adjacent to the Rainbow Bar & Grill, a restaurant that’s been filled with celebs for years.

The Whisky A Go Go: The Whisky A Go Go might be one of the most recognizable live music names to non-LA residents.  As the website for “The World Famous Whisky A Go-Go” states, “As long as there has been a Los Angeles rock scene, there has been the Whisky A Go-Go.”  The venue opened in 1964, and it still features some of the city’s best rock concerts.  Many iconic bands have recorded live albums there, as well.

The House Of Blues: There are numerous versions of the House of Blues found throughout the country, but the Sunset Strip location is special because it hosts a higher amounts of popular bands that pass through the city.

The Key Club: Located just down the street from The Roxy, the Key Club is a smaller club that hosts all types of bands but is heavy on hip-hop.

The Viper Room: Out of all the aforementioned Sunset Strip venues, The Viper Room is the only one with a 21+ age restriction.  The venue offers an impressive schedule and an equally impressive bar for the more mature crowd.  As a sad, tragic consequence of Sunset Strip debauchery, River Phoenix died of a drug overdose just outside of the Viper Room in 1993.

The Troubadour: Although it’s not located on the Sunset Strip, the Troubadour is just around the corner in West Hollywood.  The venue is known primarily for hosting artists on the rise for relatively cheap.  It also hosts big name bands, as well.  The venue is small and intimate, which makes for an exciting experience if someone you love is performing (and they most likely will, at some point).

 

Silverlake/Echo Park

Silverlake and Echo Park are known as the “hipster” areas of Los Angeles—where the skinny-jeaned youngsters congregate on a nightly basis.  While many of the venues around those areas tend to feature indie rock and underground groups, many big name artists also pass through the area.  Like the Sunset Strip a few decades ago, Silverlake and Echo Park are home to a burgeoning, exciting young music scene.

The Echo: The Echo is Echo Park’s most well-known and well-established music venue.  Located in the area’s premier strip of bars, shops and restaurants, The Echo hosts many recognizable indie groups.  Don’t be fooled by its exterior (which doesn’t actually say the words “Echo” anywhere, the line of people down the block waiting to get in should be a good indication that you’re at the right place.

The Echoplex: Underneath The Echo is The Echoplex, an equally large bar and venue.  The venue has larger shows as well as weekly traditions— such as the Part Time Punks series.

Pehrspace: Located just a few blocks from Echo Park Lake, Pehrspace is a tiny venue that’s difficult to find.  However, helpful directions are listed on the venue’s website.  Pehrspace hosts mostly lesser known groups and local acts, and it also doubles as an art gallery.

Hollywood

Palladium: In true Hollywood fashion, the Hollywood Palladium was constructed on the same space where the old Paramount Pictures lot used to be.  The fairly large venue hosts many big name acts.

Hollywood Bowl: The Hollywood Bowl has been featured in several movies, and remains one of Los Angeles’s premier destinations.  The huge, beautiful outdoor venue occasionally hosts mainstream artists but focuses mainly on classical performances, orchestras, and operas.

The Music Box: Located right on Hollywood Blvd., the Music Box is aesthetically appealing on the inside.  The wide variety of bands that perform there are usually just as appealing.

 

Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles is not known for being as vibrant or busy as the downtowns in most cities, but the excitement is definitely there if you look for it.  Here are a few venues to point you in the right direction.

Nokia Theatre: LA Live’s Nokia Theatre is a relatively large venue for the city, able to host over 7,000 fans.  For that reason, it’s also hosted events such as American Idol finales and the VMAs.  It also hosts some of the city’s most prominent acts.

Club Nokia: The Nokia Theatre in LA Live hosts many prominent music awards, but Club Nokia is much more open and accessible to the public.  Tickets are generally pricier but the acts are generally better than others around LA.  Plus, LA Live is a sight worth checking out.

Orpheum Theatre: The Orpheum Theatre has seats and a balcony and usually hosts more laid back shows.

The Smell: The Smell is a smaller venue located in Downtown LA that features many local and underground acts.

The Staples Center: The Staples Center is the home of the Clippers, Lakers and Kings, as well as the arena-level musical acts that pass through Los Angeles.

Walt Disney Concert Hall: The building internationally regarded for its design also hosts classical music, orchestras and operas (as well as the very occasional mainstream band).  Even if you’re not going to see a show, at least drive by to look at the architecture.

Wiltern: Located just outside of downtown in Koreatown, The Wiltern is a venue with a huge capacity and a generally impressive schedule on its calendar.

 

Other

Here are a few of the venues that aren’t necessarily located in an area filled with other music scene contributors.

The El Ray: The El Ray is located in the middle of Los Angeles, just outside of Beverly Hills.  It’s a slightly smaller venue, which makes the impressive bands that perform there even more enjoyable.

Greek Theatre: The Greek Theatre is one of the city’s most attractive venues.  It’s located a short drive up the Hills in Griffith Park.  You may recognize it from last year’s comedy Get Him To The Greek.

Gibson Ampitheatre: The Gibson Ampitheatre is located in Universal Studios in Universal City, but it hosts many large, well-known acts.

Many smaller or lesser known venues may be missing from this article, so if you have something to add, feel free to do so in the comments section.  Otherwise, you should be able to pick one of the above locations for an enjoyable night out in Los Angeles.

Click Here For The Guide To Los Angeles Live Music Venues Part 2!

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