Cafe du Nord is one of the more classier and sophisticated places to see live indie music in San Francisco, despite attracting the occasional young and heroin chic. Located on upper Market Street near the Castro and famous for difficult parking, this underground lounge downstairs from the Swedish American Hall features a nightly array of music from alt-country to folk, indie rock to the occasional hard rock. Its deep-red interior, Victorian-era styling, and large carved wood bar make it a perfect environment to sip cocktails and chat with your friends, much to the annoyance of whatever singer-songwriter is trying to belt it out onstage in the next room.
Offers the same high caliber of talent in the genre of jazz as the Oakland original, but the state-of-the-art venue also books R&B, soul, and world-music acts.
After a year and a half, the Alphonse Berber Gallery closed its Berkeley storefront and merged with its Union Square location. Single artist exhibitions shown there feature a wide range of mediums - including light displays, sculpture, and print. The split-level space is available to rent and the venue offers catering services for events.
Located in a 70-year-old former-vaudeville theater house, Brava (note the feminine ending) is a "professional arts organization" dedicated to "celebrating the intersection of feminism and multiculturalism that ignites social change and builds community." Diverse audiences and national recognition make Brava a paragon of San Francisco culture.
Gothic architecture meets old-timey, honky-tonk decor at this historic concert hall with brass, gilded mirrors, candelabra chandeliers, frescos, a huge oak dance floor with ample space for 200, two full bars, and a cocktail lounge upstairs. The Great American Music Hall can accommodate corporate parties and banquets.
1:AM, short for First Amendment Gallery, showcases the work of renowned local and international street and urban artists in month-long exhibitions while recruiting and building up the next generation of producers by running youth-oriented mural workshops and classes on graffiti lettering and making vinyl toys like those created by hip hop artists, fashion designers, and illustrators that depict figures from Asian and American pop culture. And, if that’s not enough, 1:AM offers private workshops for your next work retreat - “to boost the morale of your employees and promote team-building.”
When it isnt selling itself for trade expos or graduation ceremonies, the Bill Graham Civic hosts occasional top-shelf rock shows. This huge, boxlike indoor center located near Civic Center Plaza has seen the likes of Beck, Radiohead, Green Day, and Pearl Jam, to name a few. Structurally, its not unlike the Henry J. Kaiser Center in Oakland, with a huge floor and a U-shaped balcony level with seats rising to the nosebleed section. Thankfully, two TV screens assist in that arena. While the Bill Graham (named after the famous rock promoter) isnt particularly elegant expect plastic beer cups littering the sticky floor at least its more intimate than a stadium show. Easily accessible by BART or MUNI.
For years, this Potrero Hill spot has reigned as the rock club in San Francisco. Though sometimes criticized by out-of-town bands for its complacent, arm-crossed audience, and by locals for favoritism, it still books some of the best shows and has a sound quality to match. Fans of noise-rock, post-rock, punk-pop, and everything in between cram the beer-sticky checkerboard floor all the way to the pool table and spill out onto the back patio for standing-room-only smoking and some serious tattoo watching. Don't expect fancy drinks or cheesy promotions here; this place is known for its anti-snob snobbery. But we're not complaining.