Live Music in Los Angeles
Popular Los Angeles Music Venues
While its reputation is mainly based around its film industry, Los Angeles has long been a hot-bed of musical activity. Since the 1960s, Hollywood venues have served as the birthplace for many legendary bands and artists including the Doors, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, NWA and many more.
These days, Los Angeles is filled with a variety of live music spots; from tiny clubs where up and comers make their start through to arenas that fit tens of thousands of adoring fans. If you’re about to book a flight to L.A, let us help you navigate the musical landscape with our venue guide.
An intimate, brick-walled venue that is neither a hotel or café, Hotel Café is the place where local, acoustic singer-songwriters pay their dues in Hollywood. The music is not strictly one genre, but a mix of acoustic-based styles ranging from pop to folk. The venue’s laid-back charm and gorgeous sound means it’s popular with those starting out their music careers as well as with bigger acts looking for an intimate place to play a secret, acoustic show.
Look carefully for its alleyway entrance as it’s easy to miss. Also, be sure to check what’s on and buy tickets beforehand as the 150-person capacity often fills up quickly.
Famous and infamous in equal measure, the Troubadour has been a true staple of the legendary Sunset Strip in West Hollywood since the late 1950s. Its rock ‘n’ roll history is covered in stardust; it’s where Guns ‘n’ Roses played their first show, Elton John made his US stage debut and artists as diverse as Prince and Coldplay would go to test their new material.
Its staying power is largely due to it being small enough to be intimate yet large enough to house a rowdy rock show – as well as having great sound, views and a quick queue to the bar. Easy to spot along the strip, the Troubadour is a true LA gem.
According to the LA Weekly “No room in LA is cooler than the Echo”, and it’s easy to see why. Monday nights are dedicated to showcasing new indie rock bands, with other weeknights hosting everything from electronica to dub reggae making it a music lovers dream. It’s a popular spot and is often packed but the well-placed stage makes it easy to get a good view.
Downstairs from the Echo is its sister venue – with a different entrance too - The Echoplex. Whilst the Echo has a slightly smaller capacity of around 350, the Echoplex fits up to 700 meaning more well-known bands play here. It’s typically indie rock music but various others have been on its stage – the Rolling Stones even played a special secret show here in 2013.
Originally opened in 1926 as the Carter De Haven’s Music Box, The Fonda has become one of the most popular venues in Los Angeles after its renovation in 2012. There’s plenty of reasons why: its 1200 capacity size main room means that lots of rising names such as Justice and Lorde play here, but also famous artists such as Stevie wonder and Katy Perry who use it for special, one-off shows. The dimmed lighting gives it a relaxed vibe and the sound is usually impeccable. There’s both a standing area and a seated balcony, for those wanting to chill out instead of dance.
Its rooftop bar is perfect for a drink and views of Hollywood before the night’s show – with a convenient giant screen to let you know when the headliner is going on. If you can catch a concert here, you won’t regret it.
Found between Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue – hence the name – The Wiltern is another well-loved Los Angeles theatre. It’s distinctive art deco tower and shimmering, bright marquee makes the 2,200-capacity venue stand out against the night sky, while the elegant interior makes every show feel special. Good views of the stage are available from the multiple levels of standing as well as the balcony.
The Wiltern has hosted all types of music from Jack White to Sharon Jones and at times features renowned comedians such as Ron White. As it’s owned by renowned live music promoter Live Nation, it’s almost guaranteed to have top draw acts gracing its stage.
The Hollywood Palladium
Its opening night on Halloween in 1940 featured Frank Sinatra and its reopening in 2008 had Jay-Z headlining, indicating just how prestigious The Hollywood Palladium is as a mid-size Los Angeles venue. Originally built as a dance hall, its retro vibe and ample floorspace (holding around 3,700 people) make it a popular venue choice for top level performers.
The Palladium’s rich history has seen plenty of action; Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley and The Rolling Stones also played shows here and it was the site of major riot after a Ramones and Black Flag show in 1984.
The Hollywood Bowl
A stunning, outdoor amphitheatre seating up to 17,000, the Hollywood Bowl is an iconic Los Angeles venue. A concert here turns into a full day out with many packing picnics to enjoy the beautiful surroundings and epic architecture. Many regard it as the quintessential Los Angeles live experience especially due to its wonderful natural acoustics. Besides being the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bowl’s stage has hosted many legendary acts such as the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and many more.
The only downside is the stacked parking, meaning it can take a while to exit afterwards. It’s recommended to take either the Metro or one of the shuttle buses that go all over the region.
Thanks to the $100 million renovation in 2012 by New York’s Madison Square Garden Company, the Forum is now one of the biggest and best concert arenas in Los Angeles. Formally the home of the L.A. Lakers basketball team, the update was specifically done with concert goers in mind. Most importantly, the stage clearly visible from practically any seat in the huge 17,000-capacity arena.
Of course, only the biggest bands and artists play here – recently Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and The Weeknd all performed multiple shows. In the past, rock royalty such as Led Zeppelin and Queen also rocked its stage.