5 Best Live Music Venues in Los Angeles

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The county of Los Angeles probably has the most extensive music history in the Golden State. Still, a particular city by the bay won’t be easily persuaded of that. Songs such as “Welcome to the Jungle” by Gun N’ Roses, “California Girls” by the Beach Boys, and “California Love” by Tupac are just a few examples of the kinds of music that have been influenced by live music in Los Angeles. Listening to these songs may give you a sense of the city’s richness and complexity. Rolling Stone columnist Frank Schruers, a guest on the California Now Podcast with presenter Soterios Johnson, said, “There is no denying the energy that the L.A. music scene exudes.”

The places in the city, both big and small, where the city’s musicians go to rock out are, of course, in the center of the city’s scene. However, the vintage rock-and-roll places with an intimate atmosphere are the ones that music expert Schruers enjoys attending the most. During an appearance on the California Now Podcast, the individual who describes himself as a fan of “claustrophobic small clubs” discussed his top five concert venues in Los Angeles nightlife.

1. The ancient Greek theater

This approximately 6,000-capacity outdoor arena, with all of its Athenian-inspired grandeur, maybe the antithesis of the traditional grungy rock club, but it is nonetheless a favorite of a good number of Angelenos. Seeing your favorite band perform under the stars in the heart of an acoustics-assisting canyon in Griffith Park can make a fan of pretty anyone. The venue’s history, which spans more than 90 years, only adds to the attraction of the experience.

2. Whisky a Go Go

Whisky, a Go Go, has continued to be an essential part of the city’s music culture until today, perhaps becoming most well-known because it was the venue that presented some of the Doors’ first performances. This stage in West Hollywood is considered sacred since many legendary bands have performed on it, including Led Zeppelin, Motley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, and No Doubt. In 2006, the venue was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame due to fan voting.

3. The Roxy Theatre

The Roxy is a nightspot on Sunset Boulevard that has had a questionable reputation since 1973 when John Lennon used to hold court with his friends Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon in the secret bar above. The Roxy is located two streets away from the Whisky on Sunset Boulevard. Today, bands still play on the same stage that Neil Young, U2, and the Foo Fighters have played in the past, and the upstairs bar, On the Rox, is widely considered to be among the city’s most exclusive drinking establishments.

4. The Wiltern

The Wiltern is one of the architectural gems of Los Angeles, and with a capacity of 2,300, it is also one of the city’s most prominent theaters. It features some of the most elegant art deco touches of any building (see the skyscrapers representing beams of sunlight stretching across the auditorium’s ceiling), and it is also one of the largest theaters in the United States. If you plan to see a play there, you should check the schedule first, as the Moscow Ballet or a top-tier comedy revue may be hired instead of Van Morrison or Deadmau5.

5. Troubadour

You can’t miss this rock and roll landmark sign if you’re driving down Santa Monica Boulevard: the instantly familiar word “TROUBADOUR” written in Old English script indicates that this establishment is one of the city’s most legendary nightclubs. Famously, in 1957, Lenny Bruce was arrested on obscenity charges here for saying “schmuck.” The Byrds formed after meeting here at an open mic, and Elton John, Tom Waits, James Taylor, and numerous more cut their teeth within the walls of this modest club.

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