SF’s 5 Best New Music Venues, and the Eats to Pair With ‘Em

Spoiler: One of them is a living room

August 23, 2018 9:00 am

Some people don’t need to be reminded of the life-affirming nature of live music.

For the rest of us, it’s like yoga: you’re always happy you went, but sometimes you need a hand getting out the door.

Consider this that hand: the five best new(ish) live-music venues in San Francisco (and Oakland, and Berkeley, too). It’s a mix worthy of the city, including the latest incarnation of a legendary spot, a 100-year-old movie theater with a facelift, and this thing where you basically go to someone’s house.

You’ll love it.

August (2 images)

August Hall
Union Square

In brief: The former Ruby Skye is now a solid two-level upcoming-acts venue with exceptionally sticky floors and a roster of Euro imports.
Best night to go: Come for a Friday night show and skip the BART/Uber home for a sleepover at the Proper Hotel, just down Market Street.
Dinner pairing: Dumplings and dinner at M.Y. China — one of Michael Bauer’s faves, and a credit to its location (um, the Westfield mall).
Upcoming acts worth seeing: Elderbrook (9/19) and Agnes Obel (9/26)

Elbo (2 images)

Elbo Room Jack London
Jack London Square

In brief: The Mission institution expands eastward, to the spot vacated by the Night Light last September.
Best night to go: Every fourth Friday, TNT Soul! is on, with soul and R&B on the agenda all night. Conveniently, tomorrow is the fourth Friday of August, so shift your plans accordingly.
Dinner pairing: Everett and Jones for terrific barbecue (and live blues every Saturday night, if you’re looking to double-up).
Upcoming acts worth seeing: The True Justice 25 Year Celebration (9/1) and Las Sucias (9/13)

The UC Theatre
Photo by Dave Weiland

In brief: New life was recently breathed into this Berkeley institution, which originally opened its doors — as a movie theater! — in 1917. Despite the name, it’s not affiliated with Cal, but it’s all-ages, and extremely fun.
Best night to go: The two acts we most want to see are playing on Sunday: DPR Live (see below) and Al DiMeola.
Dinner pairing: Pavlova and Kronnerburgers at Henry’s.
Upcoming acts worth seeing: Rodrigo y Gabriela (9/1) and DPR Live (10/14 — it’s sold out, but you’re smarter than that)

Sofar Sounds
Multiple venues

In brief: You’re in someone’s house. You’re not allowed to stare at your phone. And you don’t know who’s on the bill when you buy your tickets. Welcome to the Bay Area edition of Sofar Sounds.
Best night to go: Whichever night they’re setting up shop closest to your apartment — gigs rotate between locations all over, including Noe Valley (tonight!), Cow Hollow, Potrero Hill, Inner Richmond, etc.
Dinner pairing: If you’re heading over tonight, stop by Bacco for Italian — we like the daily-changing risotto.
Upcoming acts worth seeing: It’s all TBD, but there are shows every night (with the exception of Labor Day weekend) for the foreseeable future.

SVN West
Van Ness

In brief: Maybe you couldn’t tell from its most recent incarnation as a Honda dealership, but this spot was between 1968 and 1971 known as Fillmore West, which hosted acts including the Grateful Dead, Miles Davis and Aretha Franklin.
Best night to go: You’re going to have to pick and choose, since the venue, newly operated by Non Plus Ultra, is only opening its doors for pop-ups.
Dinner pairing: Super-buzzy “country-style” Thai street food at Saap Ver.
Upcoming acts worth seeing: TBD. But something good is coming.


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