The city’s vibrant music scene plays out daily in bars and clubs throughout the Bay Area. You’ll find some of the biggest names in music appearing in the most chummy surroundings. Get ready to bang your head at the best rock bars in San Francisco.
The small bar on Potrero Hill is your insider connection to the next big thing. Oozing with charm and individual style, catch all the buzz-worthy local and indie bands before they go national seven days a week. Taking home the Bay Guardian’s Best Rock Club Award eight years in row and voted Best Place to Hear Live Music in San Francisco by Rolling Stone Magazine, this laid-back club has hosted The Donnas, White Stripes, The Strokes, Arcade Fire and The Nationals.
Hours: Daily 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
This great little haunt on Polk offers edgier acts from here and around the globe including Mexico City’s Los Headaches, Oakland’s scuzz-psych trio Feral Ohms’ and Vancouver’s Sex Church. The layout at Hemlock offers a separate room to smokers, a venue in the back for patrons opting to pay for live music and a free lounge in the front. No detail too small, the Tavern’s special hot peanuts is a favorite while nursing a long neck.
Hours: Mon 8 p.m. – 2 a.m.; Wed – Sat. – 9 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Only in Oakland can you find something this gorgeously spacious. Located in the Uptown District, the club is just a stones throw from the Paramount and Fox Theaters. Loyal locals like Green Day return to the Uptown when they want to perform intimate shows. Bad Religion, Supersuckers, The Blasters and The Pixies’ Frank Black have all rocked the house which delivers good acoustics and visuals from the floor or mezzanine.
Hours: Daily 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Slim’s has been getting it right for more than 20 years. Owned by R&B guitarist Boz Scaggs, this South of Market club is very low-key. Its decor takes inspiration from New Orleans, home to jazz, funk, R&B and Zydeco, but they’re down with the metal crowd with performances by A Band Called Pain and Between The Burried and Me. Munch on cheap appetizing selections from the menu before the show or move upstairs to the booths and tables where stage visibility is still available. Headlining acts from across the country include Slim’s on their tours.
Hours: Tues – Sun 9 p.m. – 3 a.m.
If it was relevant in the 80s, The Cat Club features it on Thursday nights spinning pop, goth, metal and underground in two rooms. Of course the highlight on the dance floor is getting your 15 minutes in the cage. Clientele are as diverse as the events. This dance club wonderland features a goth industrial version of karaoke called Caritas, Bondage-A-GoGo nights are celebrated along with, rock, hip hop and Motown Sunday when they kick out the old school jams.
Robyn Chelsea-Seifert is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. Her work has appeared in The Miami Herald, Creem, Hit Parader, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and International Musician. Check out her articles on Examiner.com here.