BOTTOM OF THE HILL
Their online site features quite the spectacle: a retrospective calendar listing bands the venue has hosted over the years including Postal Service, Modest Mouse, Greenday and Bright Eyes. With an occupancy limit of 246 people, big names have been able to give some of their most intimate performances in this homey locale. Bottom of the Hill has a good eye for unrealized pop sensations, while also staying steadfastly loyal to local acts on a weekly basis. This venue is also notorious for its secret shows; smaller acts like Phantom Planet, Pretty Girls Make Graves and Brand New have all had memorable secret shows here.
Good to Know: Fully equipped with a late night kitchen and a well-lit outdoor patio.
Location: 17th St. between Missouri and Texas (at the bottom of Potrero Hill).
MUNI: 38 Geary to the 22 Fillmore
Mezzanine is the Studio 54 of live electronic music that comes through San Francisco. Mezzanine began to make itself known as a major player among Bay Area venues in November 2006, when it housed elusive surrealist band The Knife (who have, to this day, only played two others shows in the U.S.). Mezzanine is in large part responsible for recruiting a sizeable amount of fans for Justice, our generation’s answer to Daft Punk, by hosting them twice in 2007. In addition to rock and electronic, Mezzanine regularly hosts big name hip-hop artists such as Method Man, Mos Def and Lupe Fiasco. The large venue also showcases films, local art and design parties each month.
Good to Know: Has a taste for booking artists who have not preformed in several years including Public Enemy, Groove Armada, The Slits and ESG.
Location: 444 Jesse St. between Stevenson and Mission.
MUNI: 5 Fulton or the 38 Geary
Hate waiting for bands you don’t care about to load and unload their stuff on stage? Brick-walled Slim’s 333 is famous for playing obscure videos between musical acts, such as retro Bettie Boop reels and bizarre aerobics tapes that star Jennifer Love Hewitt. Though this spot has been the San Francisco check-point for the bubblegum punk of the Paramores and the Metro Stations of the world in more recent years, Slims can be trusted to include hard-core, metal and J-rock acts on a weekly basis.
Good to Know: Slim’s is a mostly standing-room-only venue, however, for each show there are seventy tickets available for table seating where you can have dinner under New Orleans-inspired chandeliers while you watch the performance from above in the balcony.
Location: 333 11th St. between Folsom and Harrison.
MUNI: 5 Fulton to 9 San Bruno
GREAT AMERICAN MUSIC HALL
Great American Music Hall, sister club of Slim’s 333, is slightly bigger and has a different feel with its beautiful frescoed ceiling. This venue is renowned for its incredible acoustics. From Betty Carter to the Grateful Dead, artists have chosen Great American to create a unique live sound. Great American’s stage supports all genres except for heavy electronica acts. Don’t expect the Chemical Brothers to roll through here, but you can catch the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cold War Kids, Deerhoof and The Cinematic Orchestra this fall.
Good to Know: The Great American Music Hall has been known to fill their ballroom floor with candlelit tables for great sit down concerts.
Location: 859 O’Farrell St. between Polk and Van Ness.
MUNI: 38 Geary
You know you’ve made it big when you headline a show at the Fillmore. Destroyed in 1989 by an earthquake and then reopened in 1994, the Fillmore serves as an active museum where almost every night the feature performance is documented by giving audience members custom made posters upon exiting. This began in the 1960’s when artists wanted to capture the sold out shows of the Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zepplin and Pink Floyd in a one-of-a-kind poster. Once you’re inside the Fillmore, walls covered with photographs echo the magic of where great live rock all began in San Francisco.
Good to Know: Oddly enough, red apples are available and free for your enjoyment. If you’re not into apples, the Fillmore is located in one of the best restaurant areas of the city, offering Thai, Italian, French and Mexican food.
Location: On the northwest corner of Geary and Fillmore.
MUNI: 38 Geary
By design, Popscene separates itself from how things are typically done in other San Francisco premier nightclubs. Every Thursday at 330 Ritch, the night begins with a serious dance party conducted by club founders Aaron, Omar and Nako. When the house DJs are not in, Popscene invites quite the array of guest DJs, including members of Blur, Death Cab For Cutie, New Order and Le Tigre. Resident DJs who established the concept of Pop Scene are well known for integrating sounds from 80s moguls such as The Cure and The Smiths with new and upcoming artists from any genre. The space, smaller than the Hayes-Healy lounge, has housed unbelievably memorable performances by Amy Winehouse, The Klaxons, MIA, Kate Nash and Vampire Weekend.
Good to Know: If you’re respectful and not obnoxious, bands willingly hang out with you after they play their set (shhhhhhh).
Location: 330 Ritch St. off of Townsend between 3rd and 4th streets.
MUNI: 38 Geary to 30 Stockton