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.”
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.
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.
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.
The Utah is the place to grab a bar stool, order a pint and a monster burger and fries, and absorb some of San Francisco's lively history. This century-old bar has seen a lot in its past, which some of its longtime regulars can tell you about. These days, it features a variety of rock and folk bands six nights a week for about $6 to $8, in addition to its popular and free open-mic night on Mondays. Although the venue is rather small, the South of Market bar makes up for it with its ornate, carved-wood interior and row of windows looking out onto Bryant Street.
In addition to its frequent hip-hop and DJ showcases (including local and international acts), this SOMA club features video screenings, laser shows, and multimedia installations by artists associated with Blasthaus Gallery. Whereas many conventional club DJs swipe their sets directly from Top 40 radio playlists, Mezzanine performers get a lot more creative, challenging club-goers with new music or taking old music in new, funky directions, so it's never just about moving the crowd. Boasting two tiers and a labyrinthine dance floor, the club also includes a full bar and stage.
This kitschy SF Mission District club features a drag show on Friday nights and rotating programs on Saturdays. Architecturally, the Stud is a saloon-style bar decorated with bric-a-brac, glamour mirrors, a small stage, and a cage with room enough for two dancers.