Located 35 miles south of San Francisco on the Peninsula, Shoreline Amphitheatre is the largest outdoor venue in the Bay Area. Distinguished by its huge tent structure over the stage, Shoreline is impressive for its sheer size alone as it sits on more than sixty acres and holds 22,000. Accordingly, the biggest names stop here framed pictures of whos who in musical history are displayed around the walls circling the backstage area. If you can afford it, splurge on the lower reserved seats. Tickets can get expensive, but theyre worth it, because the general lawn section which tends to turn into a mud pit and even the upper reserved section can make you feel miles from the action, even with the assistance of the giant-screen TVs. Its also warmer in the lower reserved section, as nights here are known for getting chilly and quite windy. If all the people and noise get to be too much, theres also a covered beer garden and several food concession stands (try the garlic fries), plus other vendors selling jewelry and T-shirts.
The 866 acre reservoir has 14 miles of shoreline, making it an ideal location for fishing and picnicking.
The theatre has kept up such a high standard of excellence on its two stages in recent years that it stands head and shoulders above larger regional rivals.
La Peña Cultural Center, with its trademark colorful mural out front, is a microcosm of Berkeley’s cultural, social, and political utopia. Founded in 1975 in response to the military coup that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende, La Peña continues to live up to its revolutionary roots, hosting a variety of hip-hop, world, and jazz music; spoken word; dance classes; art exhibits; films; and lectures, focusing on social justice and human rights about four nights a week. Its 175-capacity theater features a sizable stage, wooden dance floor, and a riser with tables and chairs, suitable for getting sweaty to some Latin American rhythms or sitting back and enjoying the show. If all that consciousness has you feeling a bit woozy, try the carnitas at Los Cilantros, located in La Peña's adjacent cafe space.
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.
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.
This Jack London Square anchor tenant lives up to its claim of world-class jazz; everyone from McCoy Tyner to John Scofield comes by at least once a year, and you can also occasionally catch rising stars and school bands in addition to big-name national acts. The acoustics are marvelous, the sushi is fresh and good, and the grilled calamari is also recommended. Tickets range from $5 for a Sunday afternoon children's matinee (with paid adult admission) to upwards of $100 for a special event. Two shows nightly on the weekend.
You can find some of the Bay Areas best art exhibits, independent film screenings, theater productions, dance performances, and occasional rock shows at this metropolitan arts gallery, located across the street from its spiritual twin, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Nonprofit and wheelchair-accessible, this multidisciplinary hub is open for corporate or private events; check the Web site (YBCA.org) for an up-to-date calendar.