Showtime: A Definitive Guide To The Best Music Venues In Town

By Kimberly B. Johnson
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Friday nights out with your plus one are a little extra special when live music is in the mix. But you know, there’s a science to a great show. Lighting, acoustics, layout, décor, and a solid talent roster are all tricky elements to master. Luckily for us, Los Angeles has no shortage of top-notch venues that consistently get it all right.

Image via establishmenteast.com
Image via establishmenteast.com

The Hi-Hat

From the men who brought you Covell, a perfect post for East Hollywood wine lovers, comes a Highland Park spot that is opening up their doors for local acts and untapped talent in a neighborhood that has quickly evolved to warrant their presence. Located on the transformed York Boulevard across from Block Party and The York, Hi-Hat is the newcomer you need to get to know.

Image courtesy of the Resident DTLA
Image courtesy of the Resident DTLA

Resident

It’s so good, we had to mention it once again. Across from the Arts District’s Urth Cafe is a new neighbor to the burgeoning industrial zone, fitted to its surroundings. Resident hosts a scenic modern courtyard, serving cocktails out of a little trailer ( a recurring LA theme in our recent bar scouting.) Venture through to a hallway that leads to an underground stage that is playing host to rock, electronic and dance parties alike, all sleekly formatted with concrete and neon.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

The Echo + The Echoplex

The Echo, and it’s adjoining upstairs venue, The Echoplex, have been doing glorious things for the indie rock scene of Echo Park. From up-andcomers with huge clout on the punk, indie, and alternative circuits to major game players and touring bands, each find a home in The Echo/ Echoplex. Voted within the top five music venues in Los Angeles by Filter Magazine, The Echo has long lines wrapping around the corner for real—not just for show. With dance parties upstairs, featuring DJs you know and need to know (Google “Shlohmo”), with My Bloody Valentine, SpaceGhostPurp, Trash Talk, and a Taking Back Tuesday: Emo Night with a DJ set from Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, The Echo/ Echoplex is the spot.

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Vinyl Williams at Non Plus Ultra.

Non Plus Ultra

From secret loft parties to actual ticketed venue, Non Plus Ultra is now an entity open to the public face. Hosting underground rock and art presentations, the space is a warehouse located in Virgil Village, still inconspicuous and hard to find. Follow a back alley lit with a few string of lights for a typical $5 cover to see the best new acts evolving indie and psychedelic rock. It’s the kind of space where you find yourself holding a red plastic cup and being reminded of days past, all while warm foamy melodies wash over you.

Image courtesy of the Tower Theater
Image courtesy of the Tower Theater

Tower Theater

Tower Theatre is a very special place, being that not just anyone stumbles upon playing a show here. Upon entering, it’s obvious the building’s Baroque Revival architecture holds the distinct essence of a time that came, and left remnants. It was the first theater in Los Angeles to be wired for talking pictures, and was the location of the sneak preview and Los Angeles premiere of Warner Bros.’ revolutionary film The Jazz Singer, starring Al Jolson, which ushered in the end of the silent-film era. It’s a special place needing to be honored with a particular vibe, which is why ’80s British post-punk/goth band The Cult recently brought the house down in February. If you can catch a show at this historical landmark, do so. The visit to the space alone is worth the treat.

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