10 Best Music Venues in San Diego

Casbah

I’ve been to Casbah two times. Both times have been amazing. The first time, I saw a really fun band with my awesome DC-residing/soon to be married/kickass boss lady college friend back in March of last year. I saw a fun soul rock band called Lawrence a few months ago (wayyy too late on a weeknight but was so worth it) Both times, I’ve said to myself, “I must go at times moving forward with no excuses ever!” I haven’t exactly stuck to that, but I suggest you all check it out sometime soon.

Soda Bar

Soda Bar was my first place in San Diego that I frequented. I knew no one when I moved here, so I went to Soda Bar almost weekly on Saturday nights to see amazing bands — everywhere from  silver-jacketed emo dweebs who look like they’d so judge me to Erykah Badu-esque kickass singers to a Cuban-New Yorkian Amy Winehouse-type chick. This place is baller and in a dive bar lounge with semi-circle leather booth seats if you get there early enough (aka on time) and f-in fantastic music every time for a $10 cover.

Observatory

This is another one I’d frequent when I first moved here. I first saw DJ Quik before I moved and had an f-in phenomenal time being at a rap concert by myself. Since then, I’ve seen a lot of Cali rap which is great and of the Snoop Dog kind with a real good flow and chill vibe and it’s great. (Have I mentioned I love rap music?) I’ve also seen Warren G. for $5 (you heard me, $5) — though he also had a massive party on stage and did lots of other people’s songs so the price was fair. Also Oddisee with one of my BFFs Mikay and excellent San Diegan-from-Virginian friend Jordyn was fantastic.

Music Box

Saw Talib Kweli here. Super crowded, but cool venue that feels pretty swanky with its four-story cubic look-down onto the stage. (I need a lesson in architecturial terminology — note to self.) There are always a ton of cool acts that come here who I miss and then shake my fist in frustration for missing before moving on — you should probably check them out and well and I should start forward-planning to see more of their shows.

House of Blues

I saw a Johnny Cash cover band here once, and it was great. They were teachers working at the same school as my Bumble BFF-turned-real-SD BFF who is also a phenomenal guidance counselor and a bright and positive soul. It was a great experience, and I highly advise checking out their scene.

Park & Rec

I’ve seen some great back house shows here and I love the adult games, excellent spicy mango margs and positive vibe very much — both day and nighttime. A friend of a friend DJed in the quaint little back house while my awesome neighbor friends and I played Bago nearby — it was one Sunday afternoon for his bday and it was great. We also got sucked into a giant game of Connect Four, a very enjoyable game of darts, and a game of Jenga that became quite heated (I wasn’t involved, I swear!) Check this place out. There’s also a back tiki bar near the Jenga spot which is under a canapy of lights. It’s quite pretty here under the trees, being able to look out at the stars, and I like it very much.The Shout! House

This dueling piano back speaks for itself — it’s a hoot of a good time and a great place to bring out-of-towners for a SD “experience” that’s enjoyable, quite magical, comrade-building-ical, and also $10 and quite fun.

Tin Roof

My Bumble BFF and I (after shouting ourselves out at Shout House) saw a cool ass chick band with some proud young women in flannels and cut-offs and boots doing their thang here and enjoyed this spot very much. It has a dive bar vibe which is great for late of night strong drink-drinkin and girl power friendship convo-hanging. Good times.

Seven Grand San Diego

This place has cool The Clash-esque Californian cover bands and Roots-y bluesy fun big bands and horns. Also, whiskey. Which I wish I was into, but I’m not. BUT it’s a great place to take others, including out-of-towners. I’ve come here after many an Observatory concert and love its prohibition but actually more dive baresque wear from years of being loved. It’s great and is in North Park which is the Williamsburg of San Diego.

Belly Up

My girl Jor and I saw one and only one concert here (so far…there will be many more.) And it was phenomenal. Rayland Baxter sings with such intimacy and soul and the environment was chill and honest and great. Afterwards we went dancing at a bar down the street which felt like Never Never Land. It was weird but we loved it. I’ll definitely be looking for more shows because they bring in some amazing acts. For example, Imagery Machine with my girl Jennie Lynn who is kickass and amazing and wonderful and just released a new track, which she’ll be releasing monthly from here: https://www.sandiegoreader.com/bands/imagery-machine/#.

What concert venues could you not live without– either in San Diego or elsewhere? Let’s celebrate the little guys fighting the good fight and keeping the local music scene and artist process alive and well ❤

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