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The Shattuck Down Low (2284 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, 510-548-1159, ShattuckDownLow.com) was one of the first venues this side of the bay to book conscious hip-hop groups, and remains the place to go for heart-pumping beats, as well as live reggae and salsa.
The Starry Plough (3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-841-2082, StarryPloughPub.com) is an Irish pub (and it still features traditional Irish music some nights) but its bookings are far more eclectic than that — rockers, singer-songwriters, jam-banders, and folkies take the stage here, and audience members are likely to holler, scream, and kick up their heels.
The Uptown (1928 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, 510-451-8100, UptownNightclub.com) is one of many punk-oriented venues in the East Bay, but it stands out by striking a nice balance between out-of-towners and local mainstays and featuring acts that cover a wide spectrum from emo-prog to lesbian thrash, psychobilly to Afro-boho jazz-funk, and classic punk to indie folk.
Yoshi's (510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, 510-238-9200, Yoshis.com) jazz room is a jazz lover's — and jazz musician's — dream, specially built to enhance the listening and performing experience.
Clubs & Music Venues — San Francisco
1015 Folsom Nightclub (1015 Folsom St., 415-431-7444, 1015.com) is one of the best places in SF to catch hot international DJs and boogie down to everything from Eighties raver candy to psychedelic trance while watching cool laser light shows.
Amnesia (853 Valencia St., 415-970-0012, AmnesiatheBar.com) offers bluegrass and country music on Mondays. Tuesdays are generally reserved for open mic. Wednesdays offer live jazz. Thursdays and Sundays have various live music from the indie scene in the city. Friday and Saturday have DJs and dancing.
Amoeba Music (1855 Haight St., San Francisco, 415-831-1200, Amoeba.com) hosts live bands several times a week, usually prior to their performance at some big club in the city, which makes it a great opportunity to see your favorite band for free if you can't afford a regular ticket, and in a much more intimate environment.
Bimbo's 365 Club (1025 Columbus Ave., 415-474-0365, Bimbos365Club.com) is decked out with plush scarlet interiors, disco balls, and a curved stage.
The Boom Boom Room (1601 Fillmore St., San Francisco, 415-673-8000, BoomBoomBlues.com) was once a sultry, steamy place for locals to get down to some of the country's best blues acts; today, the club still hosts a range of blues, boogie, and soul bands, but it's got a little less roots and little more funk and jam-band.
Bottom of the Hill (1233 17th St., San Francisco, 415-621-4455, BottomoftheHill.com) is where 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 serious tattoo watching.
Bruno's (2389 Mission St., 415-643-5200, brunoslive.com) offers DJs spinning dance music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Cafe du Nord (2170 Market St., San Francisco, 415-861-5016, CafeduNord.com), with its deep-red interior, Victorian-era styling, and large, carved wood bar, is one of the more classy and sophisticated places in San Francisco to see some of the best local and national alt-country, folk, indie rock, and singer-songwriter acts.
Club Six (60 Sixth St., San Francisco, 415-863-1221, ClubSix1.com) is a two-tiered industrial warehouse that's home to famously bombastic DJ parties such as "Reggae Gold SF," the hot dancehall night with Daddy Rolo every fourth Saturday of the month, and "Solid," a regular Thursday-night reggae and dancehall extravaganza.
DNA Lounge (375 11th St., San Francisco, 415-626-1409, DNALounge.com) is a two-tiered club that has a futuristic feel, a full bar, large stage and lounge areas, and often stays open after hours for DJ events — including hip-hop, house, dancehall, industrial, and breakbeats — on Fridays and Saturdays.
Elbo Room (647 Valencia St., 415-552-7788, Elbo.com) is a popular Mission District bar and club featuring music seven nights a week.
The Great American Music Hall (859 O'Farrell St., San Francisco, 415-885-0750, GAMH.com) is one of the best midsize venues in the City, boasting a huge oak dance floor with ample space for two hundred and drawing mostly national touring acts in diverse genres.
Hemlock Tavern (1131 Polk St., San Francisco, 415-923-0923, HemlockTavern.com) is the best place to hear the latest flying-under-the-radar indie acts.
Hotel Utah (500 4th St., San Francisco, 415-546-6300, TheHotelUtahSaloon.com) is the place to grab a bar stool, order a pint and a monster burger and fries, and hear a variety of folk and rock bands while absorbing some of San Francisco's lively history.
The Independent (628 Divisadero St., San Francisco, 415-771-1421, IndependentSF.com) stands out for its welcoming vibe and the variety of music booked — usually big-name acts in the worlds of reggae, funk, blues, DJs, hip-hop, and the indie-rock circuit.
Kimo's (1351 Polk St., 415-885-4535, MySpace.com/kimosbar) is a historic gay bar; upstairs is where the rock music cranks.
Make-Out Room (3225 22nd St., 415-647-2888, MakeOutRoom.com) is a classic bar/venue in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District, with regular live music, Litquake readings, DJs, and more.
Mezzanine (444 Jessie St., San Francisco, 415-625-8880, MezzanineSF.com) features hip-hop and DJ showcases (including local and international acts), video screenings, laser shows, and multimedia installations by artists associated with Blasthaus Gallery.
Culture Spy - February 23, 2:42 PM
What the Fork - February 23, 2:12 PM
Seven Days - February 21, 3:30 PM
Culture Spy - February 19, 1:45 PM
Seven Days - February 18, 5:00 PM