Fave Five Venues to Hear Music in L.A.

Assistant Editor Skye Mayring takes readers on a musical tour of Los Angeles

By: By Skye Mayring

One of the perks of being an Angeleno is having almost too many quality shows to choose from every night of the week. But sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’ve even heard of the band playing at a particular Los Angeles venue; you know you’re going to have a good time regardless. What follows, in no particular order, are my Fave Five places to get lost in the music.


Photo: Spaceland // (c) 2009

Monday nights are free at this intimate Silverlake hot spot, where recognized local bands, such as the Silversun Pickups and The Airborne Toxic Event, got their start. It’s not uncommon to bump into certain music-loving celebs, like Keifer Sutherland, in the smoking room/back bar. In fact, he might even buy you and your friends a round of shots. In any event, you’ll definitely rub elbows with some of L.A.’s best up-and-coming artists and get introduced to new music, even before it airs on KXLU radio.

The Troubadour

Photo: The Troubadour // (c) 2009

Nearby venues, The Whisky-A-Go-Go and The Rainbow Room, wish they had the lasting power of The Troubadour. This Hollywood relic — everyone from Hall and Oates to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has played here — continues to book big names and pack the house to the point where it can be hard to move around at times. When it gets too crowded, you can retreat to the side bar for a drink and still see the action on stage through an oversized glass window.

The Echo/Echoplex

Photo: Echo in Echo Park // (c) 2009

Echo Park’s The Echo and its sister club, The Echoplex, offer the widest range of music on the East Side. Alt country bands, hip hop acts and mash-up artists frequent the stages, and weekly events, such the Dub Club (dub music night) on Wednesdays and Respect (drum and bass music night) on Thursdays, maintain a loyal following.

Henry Fonda Music Box

Photo: Henry Fonda Music Box // (c) 2009

For some reason, no one seems to refer to this place by its full name, Henry Fonda Music Box, rather “the Fonda,” “the Music Box,” or other variations. The 25,000-square-foot theater is beautifully designed from an architectural standpoint and features a top-floor patio with comfortable couches. And those who need a little fresh air won’t miss a beat on the upstairs deck where a gigantic projection screen displays all the onstage antics as they unfold.

Hollywood Bowl

Photo: Hollywood Bowl // (c) Fred George

Where else are you encouraged to pack a picnic of wine and cheese and come early before the show to enjoy it? The Hollywood Bowl is my top pick for summer shows, and KCRW’s summer concert series offer some of the better lineups for the season. Truly, there is no finer venue to experience over-the-top bands (the Rolling Stones, the Flaming Lips) than underneath the stars at the Bowl. But be sure to take advantage of its “bring your own” policy or you could be shelling out close to $20 for a plate of cheese and crackers once inside.