Formerly known as the Justice League, the Independent is a venue strictly dedicated to hosting live music events. Besides the bar, there's nothing else to divert your attention from the players on the sizable elevated stage. One of the strengths of the Independent is the variety of music booked here, usually big-name acts in the worlds of reggae, funk, blues, DJs, hip-hop, and the indie-rock circuit. Accordingly, expect to see a different crowd nearly every night of the week. Ticket price ranges from $15 to $30.
In addition to nightly live music — mostly folk and rock, with an open mic every Wednesday — this Richmond District bar features two pool tables, dart boards, and Sunday NFL on five TVs (including one big-screen), all equipped with Sky Sports and ESPN2. If you come at the right time of year, you might catch live broadcasts of Irish rugby and soccer tournaments, or Gaelic football and hurling. All shows start at 9 p.m. Most shows are free, but call ahead of time to confirm.
Based on the Island’s facade — a nondescript stucco wall with red and green stripes — it’s difficult to fathom just how cool this Alameda joint is on the inside. Located a few blocks from the Webster Tube, it specializes in dancehall, reggae, R&B, merengue, and soca, erring more on the pop side. Thatched roofs, orange lanterns, and a small dance floor give the Island a real Caribbean isle feel. This is a weekend-only joint with a classy dress code. There’s no cover for Ladies Nite on Fridays, and there is a cover for Reggae International Saturdays with DJ Electro.
Albany’s legendary neighborhood bar was renovated in 2012 with reclaimed materials and Prohibition-era, vintage fixtures. Mattress springs hang from the ceiling! Live music happens regularly, and might include rockabilly or reggae. The cocktail menu includes handcrafted cocktails using fresh, local and house-made ingredients. There's a pool table and big screen, plus happy hour until 7 p.m. every day.