Many Oakland musicians don’t play traditional (read: legal) venues in our city, so it’s worth seeking out artists you like and following them online for sneaky shows. Here’s a list of venues that offer a spot for locals to kill it on stage.
311 Broadway, 94607
For all you garage, psychobilly rockers, who thought the scene had mostly fled to San Francisco, this is the venue for you. This place gets a fair share of tiny touring bands from up and down the coast, but plenty of opening bands and headliners come right from the Bay. It’s super tiny, and downstairs often has great DJ’s and dancing if you want to continue to party after the encore.
1429 Broadway, 94612
The best word to describe Awaken Cafe’s style is eclectic. One night you might find a rumba band, the next night experimental electronica, and then a hip hop orchestra. Regardless, the lineups are always solid.
420 40th St #5, 94608
A venue for when a punk, hardcore, indie pop band wants something a bit more legit than a house party but doesn’t wanna throw full down venue. The tix are bought day-of, $7, all-ages, over by 10pm, and best of all you can shop for vinyl in between sets.
3234 Grand Ave, 94610
Jazz, orchestral, folk, and world music is the specialty at this community gathering spot. It’s vibe is mellow and wholly engaging.
412 14th St, 94612
On a given night you might catch a local electronic band or a punk band, and it’s guaranteed to be an intimate affair at this bar in the heart of downtown.
3629 M.L.K Jr. Way, 94609
Grimey and loud and lovely. If those words don’t seem like they go together it may not be the spot for you. There’s a lot of scuzzy hardcore bands who play Eli’s, a lot of metal, and that’s as it should be for this long-standing local dive bar nestled at the line between Ghost Town and Temescal.
2272 Telegraph Ave 94612
It’s great to find a venue that gives a lot of play to hip hop and Motown. Motown Monday’s features a local band downstairs and is always a good time, but it’s the tiny room upstairs that really nails things down. Some of the best artists play here to test out new slaps. It’s a real gem.
5447 Telegraph Ave, 94609 | 579 18th St, 94612
www.clubleos.com | www.thenewparish.com
Ok, ok, so these two spots have a lot of touring mid-size bands, but both these venues (owned by Parish Entertainment along with SF’s Brick and Mortar) stack opening bands lineups with stellar local talent and often have awesome local bands for headliners, too.
2330 Telegraph Ave, 94612
So the Stork Club has a hit or miss reputation. And for good reason, BUT there’s some great stuff if you know where to look. Case in point, on Monday night there’s the Bluegrass jam a mix of all ages and some really stellar pickers.
645 W Grand Ave, 24612
Starline Social Club is a bit of an unknown. Recently Diplo showed up for set, and they’ve had some other national stars on their stage, but they also have featured record releases for local bands, such as B.Hamilton. It’s a bit of a wait and see as they solidify their lineups over time, but it should definitely be on your radar.
Now that you’ve got an idea where to catch a local show, get on out there and let us know what great musicians you discover!