Entertainment

The 55 best places to see live music in Southern California

Under the right circumstances, a few hours of live music can change a person: The 16-year-old indie punk who dives into the all-ages DIY scene surrounding the Smell. The record executives at a Hotel Cafe bar table awaiting a young singer named Billie Eilish. Obsessed devotees converging on Hollywood Forever Cemetery for an evening among the gravestones with Lana Del Rey.

Until COVID-19 pushed pause on concerts in 2020, most didn’t need to be reminded of live music’s transcendent nature. We took for granted the bounty of stages available on any given night, both in soundproofed rooms and, enabled by a climate perfectly suited for them, at outdoor amphitheaters. Their forced absence left a gaping hole in L.A. culture.

Luckily, most survived. These 55 venues include legacy theaters, spacious clubs, Sunset Strip mainstays, historic institutions and duct-taped dives. Combined, it’s a patchwork of venues that gives fans of virtually any music genre the opportunity to commune, sing and dance with kindred fans.



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