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5 Best Music Venues in Los Angeles

Explore the city’s best venues, rife with rock history

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It’s possible that Los Angeles County has the richest music culture in the country—possibly the planet. Its diversity and depth can be felt in the songs the city has inspired: everything from Gun N’ Roses’ “Welcome to the Jungle,” to Billy Joel’s “Los Angelenos” to Tupac’s “California Love.” As Rolling Stone contributor Frank Schruers told host Soterios Johnson in the California Now Podcast, “The excitement of the L.A. music scene is indisputable.”

The heart of the city’s scene is, of course, the venues—large and small—where its musicians go to rock. Closest to music expert Schruers’ heart, however, are the classic rock-and-roll venues with an intimate feel. On the California Now Podcast, the self-professed fan of “claustrophobic little clubs,” shared his top five places in L.A. to catch a concert.

1. The Greek Theatre

This nearly 6,000-capacity outdoor venue, in all its Athenian-inspired grandeur, may be the antithesis of the classic grungy rock club, but it’s nevertheless many an Angelino’s favorite. Seeing your favorite band play under the stars in the middle of an acoustics-aiding Griffith Park canyon can make a fan of pretty much anyone, and the 90-plus years of history only adds to the allure. (more)

2. Whisky A Go Go

Perhaps most famous for being the club that hosted some of the earliest shows by The Doors, Whisky A Go Go went on to play a key role in the city’s music scene right up until the present day. Led Zeppelin, Mötley Crüe, Guns ‘n Roses, No Doubt—they’ve all played this hallowed West Hollywood stage, and the venue was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. (more)

3. The Roxy Theatre

A mere two blocks away from the Whisky on Sunset Boulevard is The Roxy, a nightspot of dubious reputation since 1973, when John Lennon used to hold court with his buddies Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon in the secret bar upstairs. Today, bands still play the same stage that Neil Young, U2, and the Foo Fighters have played, and On the Rox, the upstairs bar, is one of the most exclusive watering holes in the city. (more)

4. The Wiltern

Boasting some of the most over-the-top Art Deco touches of any building anywhere (see the skyscrapers representing beams of sunlight stretching across the ceiling of the auditorium), The Wiltern is one of L.A.’s architectural jewels, and with a capacity of 2,300, one of its largest theaters. Check the schedule before going to catch a show there though, as the Moscow Ballet or an A-list comedy revue is as likely to be booked as Van Morrison or Deadmau5. (more)

5. Troubadour

When cruising down Santa Monica Boulevard, you can’t miss the sign for this rock and roll institution: the instantly recognizable TROUBADOUR in Old English lettering marks one of the city’s most storied nightspots. Lenny Bruce was famously arrested here on obscenity charges way back in 1957 (for saying “schmuck”); The Byrds formed after meeting at an open mic here, and Elton John, Tom Waits, James Taylor, and countless others cut their teeth within this intimate venue’s walls. (more)

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