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.
Founded in 1968, the Freight & Salvage may be one of the most reliable venues for music in the East Bay. The venue is all ages, nonprofit, non-smoking, and alcohol-free. Here’s what you can count on from this Berkeley institution: a variety of traditional acoustic music played by accomplished musicians, an excellent sound system, and a crowd that deeply appreciates the music. Somewhere between a glorified barn and a church, the Freight’s atmosphere ensures that the attention is focused on the stage, where a range of folk, bluegrass, swing, country, Cajun, and world music can be heard. While shows here aren’t cheap, this venue is also a nonprofit, so you can feel better about where your money is going.
Known for the outspoken political commentary often gracing its marquee, the restored 1920s theater features a Wurlitzer organ performance before Friday and Saturday night screenings in its 900-seat auditorium.
Intimate, historical venue hosting drama, musical theater and instrumental musical performances.
Emanating from the softly upholstered furniture, the richly colored linens, the modern-exotic lighting, and the casual seating, the vibe coaxes patrons to relax, to share, to open up — even with strangers. The drinks are neither low-brow nor high-brow; they exist to lubricate social interaction, not dominate it. Regular events include DJ nights, live music nights (featuring members of Rogue Wave, Crown City Rockers, and more), and Layover Comedy Night, where comedians of various stripes test their mettle before accommodating, though nonetheless real crowds. You'd never know — or maybe you would — from the blank street sign out front, featuring only a glowing neon cocktail glass: This place is the real deal.
The performing arts facility hosts cultural dance classes, performing art workshops, plays, and more. The space features a 350-seat theater, five dance studios, meeting rooms, and rehearsal spaces, which are all available for rental.
Laney College's theater hosts plays, dance performances, and other productions by both students and outside companies.
An upstairs gallery overlooking Broadway.
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 all these years, Berkeley's famous all-ages punk warehouse still draws crowds of kids to its weekly shows, featuring punk bands (both local and national). But the best thing about this volunteer-run, alcohol- and drug-free venue is its sense of history: The yellowing, graffiti-stained walls have been ragged and tagged by members of now-legendary bands like Screw 32, Green Day, and A.F.I.
At Actual Cafe, it's all about sitting down and enjoying the coffeehouse experience. Get a cup of Joe (or tea) served in a real china cup, plop down, and just hang for a while. Actual Cafe boasts comfy furniture and communal seating to encourage actual interaction with actual human life-forms. It's "not just another wi-fi shack." Indoor bike parking and a full menu are also available. Weekends are laptop-free.
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.
This club, modeled after an Eastern European wooden synagogue, is a Berkeley institution dedicated to dance and music. The non-profit venue hosts live music nearly every night, and shows are all-ages. Ashkenaz hosts reggae, bluegrass, Balkan, Brazillian, Cajun, and Caribbean bands, just to name a few. Come early for a dance class or on Sunday afternoon for a kid’s concert.
Housed in a statuesque brick building, this gallery specializes in site specific works. The art displayed here relies on the gallery's space, creating a comprehensive experience in experimental art.