One of my absolute favorite parts of going to school in a city as fast-paced and alive as Los Angeles is the opportunity to explore a vibrant live music scene. So many artists move out to LA to get their big break, get signed to a massive record label, and go on world tours, but for all those artists that don’t quite get there, many smaller concert venues and live music spots have popped up around the city, giving these artists a chance to express themselves and explore their passions. I loved music since I was little, growing up listening to my parents’ Beatles and Madonna CDs. I ended up actually playing piano for 11 years and jazz saxophone for four, falling in love with classical and jazz music, but somewhere in high school, my taste expanded to include alternative, electronic, r&b and indie artists. The first album I listened to from beginning to end was actually channel ORANGE by Frank Ocean, and that particular record still holds a special nostalgic place in my heart. Anyway, long story short, I came into college with a passion for music of many genres, an obsession with discovering new acts, and a taste for smaller, intimate venues where the musicians and the fans and the environment came together to create this all-encompassing creative experience. In this blog, I hope to talk about some of my favorite venues around LA, some bucket list venues, and my dream concert experience.
I’ll start off easy– USC has an incredible concert venue literally across the street known as the Shrine Auditorium. A former mosque, the Shrine has really unique architecture and an absolutely gorgeous interior. It maintains its heritage as a place of worship, but has been transformed on the inside to give fans an almost luxurious experience. It’s mostly general admission space, and I’ve seen two of my favorite bands nearly front row because of it (I saw Bad Suns and the Neighbourhood).
Working our way out from USC to downtown, I absolutely love the Regent (a small, general admission-only theater) and the Wiltern in Koreatown. I’m headed to a concert in a few weeks at the Wiltern; one of my all-time favorite bands, LANY, is performing and I couldn’t be more excited!! These two venues tend to host more alternative pop or smaller hip-hop artists, but another one of my favorite spots is blue whale, a jazz bar in Little Tokyo with minimalist aesthetics and stellar performers.
Probably my all-time favorite venue that I’ve been to in Los Angeles is the Troubadour in West Hollywood. The Troubadour is a rock club that’s been around for decades, but it’s been rebranded as a small performance venue with great music and a cool, intimate feel. I saw Great Good Fine OK (another one of my favorite bands) there, and it was definitely one of my favorite concerts to date. This was probably because the audience was small and filled with real fans and passionate people, everyone was dancing, and the artists were having a blast as well.
There’s bigger venues around LA for sure, the Forum out in Inglewood, the Hollywood Palladium, and Staples Center are just a few I can think of right off the bat. These places are definitely still fun to go to, I just prefer a more intimate experience with the artist than sitting in a seat 500 rows away from the stage. As a broke college student though, I definitely will buy the nosebleed seats if it’s an artist I really love. I’m actually heading to an ODESZA concert tomorrow night at STAPLES center!
I’ve definitely been to a ton of sick venues around the area, but I still have a few on my bucket list. The image at the top of this page is of the Viaduct, a converted space under the sixth street bridge that hosts pop up indie acts to perform outdoors. I would absolutely love to attend an event like this– the venue is super unique and I’m sure the artists are as well. I would also love to go to a concert at the Ace theater in downtown LA. The Fonda theater, the Echo, the Hotel Cafe, the Lighthouse Cafe, Amoeba Records (I’ve been to Amoeba to buy actual records and worship it, just haven’t been to a live music session) ; the list of super interesting, underground venues is truly endless. I can’t wait to check out more concerts while I’m around LA, because there’s no question that some of the best artists in the world got there start out here.
On a related note, another service I recently started subscribing to is a simple email list called SOFAR. This abbreviation stands for Songs From A Room, and the whole premise of the program is that artists can perform in either their own homes or local hosts and invite a few friends/fans/people to watch them. Anyone can buy tickets, it’s a mystery venue with a mystery artist, but there’s a really laid-back vibe that makes me really want to try it. I’ve been on the list for a bit, and hope to go to one soon!! I’d like to do it before I graduate, just to meet cool people interested in the underground music scene, and vibe to similar music.
If you haven’t realized by the end of this blog, I LOVE MUSIC!! Living in Los Angeles is a music-lovers blessing, because there’s just so many artists wandering the streets (both literally and figuratively). You can get very inexpensive tickets for virtually any venue in LA, and pretty much every big name tour comes through downtown. My dream is to see Frank Ocean live out here, since he is genuinely the reason I realized music could be more than just instrumental chords and riffs. His album made me realize music was powerful, and it’s become one of my favorite pastimes ever since. As a college student, I’ve finally been able to have the freedom, independence, and relative financial stability to go to concerts whenever I really want to, and I’m so lucky I ended up in LA where I can treat myself to the best.
That’s all I got for today!!! Peace out and fight on my dudes 🙂