U.C. Berkeley’s Cal Performances program stages a huge number of concerts, recitals, plays, and almost everything in between at seven venues on campus and in the area, as well as other site-specific performances. It all began back in 1906, when legendary actress Sarah Bernhardt aimed to boost the mood of locals reeling after a devastating earthquake by appearing at the open-air William Randolph Hearst Greek Theater.
Now known simply as “the Greek,” the 8,500-seat amphitheater, which is patterned after the ancient theater in Epidaurus, Greece, presents a full slate of pop, rock, and world music. On warm evenings, it doesn’t get any more Berkeley than this. Kick back and enjoy the likes of James Taylor or Alabama Shakes, surrounded by diverse crowds of people singing and clapping along. If you’re brave enough to take on the mosh pit up front, know that it fills early. Opt for clear views (and calmer surroundings) from seats at the top of the steeply raked amphitheater, or head even higher to spread out blankets on a grassy slope. With its open sky, sunset views, and relatively intimate scale, you can actually believe it when bands proclaim that the Greek is one of their favorite places to play.
Shows also light up the night at Zellerbach Hall, when patrons dress up to enjoy top-name performances by the likes of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Philip Glass, and Yo-Yo Ma. Fans of visual arts can head to the Worth Ryder Art Gallery, which exhibits challenging and thought-provoking works by undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and local artists.