There is no shortage of live music to be found in Los Angeles. Cavernous, state-of-the-art venues with naming rights granted to well-heeled corporate sponsors host concerts for the biggest music artists in town, while all across the City of Angels stretch various lounges, bars, restaurants, and even street performers offering up enticing song and instrument to entertain the city’s 48 million annual visitors. Yes, the nightclubs of Los Angeles also do offer showstopping live performance spectacles featuring the best and brightest contemporary hip-hop and electronic music stars. However, if your musical tastes are less mainstream and more niche – think rock, blues, country, reggae, classical, or pop of yesteryear – and your party vibe more chill, then you’ll want to ditch the dance floors for comfy chairs, in-seat drinks, and great sight lines while watching your favorite artists perform live.
And now, for some music to your ears, we present Discotech’s Top 10 best live music venues – big and small – in the city of Los Angeles.
1. Hollywood Bowl – Hollywood
Tucked away in an aesthetically pleasing – both visually and sonically – crevasse of the magical Hollywood Hills, the iconic 18,000-seat Hollywood Bowl has the nostalgic power to pull on the heartstrings of even the most cynical of Angeleno veterans. The Los Angeles Philharmonic was the inaugural act to open this impossibly beautiful jewel of a venue in 1922 at the height of the musically groundbreaking Roaring ’20s; since then, the Hollywood Bowl has hosted large-format concerts of all music genres every summer season, and every LA local has at least one unforgettable memory of catching a show there. Sadly, despite surviving years of war and economic turmoil, the Bowl’s impressive annual streak of shows will likely come to an end in 2020, due to current city government restrictions surrounding large gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. Discotech looks forward to Hollywood Bowl re-opening in 2021, and we’ll be one of the first to get in line for tickets – seriously, it’s walking distance from our Hollywood office – to one of their first announced shows.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at Hollywood Bowl:
Upcoming Events at Hollywood Bowl
2. Palladium – Hollywood
Another legendary Los Angeles music venue with one of the coolest venue names in the galaxy, the Palladium was once upon the time the hip spot for your grandparents’ generation of Hollywood hip-cats: Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra headlined the inaugural show here on Halloween night in 1940. Beverly Hills-based live events company Live Nation gave the beautiful but aging cougar a million-dollar facelift and a 20-year lease in 2007, and it has resumed its status as a must-visit experience for Millennials and Gen Z. The Palladium boasts 11,200-square-foot GA-only dance floor, with a mezzanine and a floor level that can hold up to 4,000 people. The structure includes an impressive circular entrance foyer with winding balcony stairs and a domed ceiling crafted in Art Deco style that gives the acoustics here a unique melodic reverberation. Or in words of today’s young music heads, the sounds “slap” and “just HIT DIFFERENT” at this memorable spot.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at Palladium:
Upcoming Events at Palladium
3. The Wiltern – Koreatown
Located on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue (Wil… tern, get it?) in the heart up-and-coming K-town, the Wiltern is an aging art deco concert hall that is smallish by today’s standards (capacity is 1,850). For its standing room-only shows, space comes at a premium and the sight lines to its stage are not very good compared to other LA music venues. But what the Wiltern lacks in ambiance it more than makes up for on the programming side of the coin: the diversity and quality of the live music artists its management books are the envy of venue directors worldwide. On one day you’ll see genre-specific notables such as Snow Patrol, the Growlers, or Maren Morris; on another day, a global superstar like Madonna may announce a multi-date residency, causing a run on tickets at this classic but severely space-limited bandbox.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at the Wiltern:
Upcoming Events at The Wiltern
4. Greek Theatre – Los Feliz / Griffith Park
If not for the beaches, then summer in L.A. is for outdoor concerts… and this 6,000-seat open-air theatre on the eastern side of the Hollywood Hills stages delivers everything you would hope for in your midsummer night’s dream. With it’s woodsy setting rivaling the Hollywood Bowl’s more modern urban cityscape digs, the Greek plays host to festival-like summer music shows by local and national acts. Unfortunately, with this dreamy scene comes the inevitable nightmare of parking: “stacked” parking means even if you avoid headaches and arrive early, getting out of the parking lot often takes longer than the show… and VIP “Quick Parking” is a whopping $75.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at the Greek Theatre:
- Billie Eilish
- Chance The Rapper
- Denzel Curry
- Christina Aguilera
- Will Ferrell / Jerry Seinfeld (comedians)
Upcoming Events at the Greek Theatre
5. The Novo – Downtown LA
The Novo – formerly Club Nokia – is 2,400-seat indoor music venue located at the L.A. Live entertainment complex in DTLA. Operated by promotions giant Goldenvoice and sponsored by tech giant Microsoft, The ovo holds a key advantage advantage over other older L.A. venues: it’s outfitted with all the modern trappings and conveniences, by virtue of having been built later (its $80 million construction took 3 years and was completed in 2008). This high-energy venue focuses on emerging music acts and culturally-focused music/dance shows, while also providing an excellent venue rental space for corporate events and private parties.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at the The Novo:
Upcoming Events at The Novo
6. The Forum – Inglewood
Once the proud home of the Showtime-era Los Angeles Lakers and the “it” spot for ’80s Hollywood pop culture and cool, The Forum had long since fallen out of favor once Staples Center was erected in 1998. But after a recent $100 million renovation from New York’s Madison Square Garden (MSG) Company and renewed interest from the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers in relocating there – plus massive infrastructure investments by the city in its surrounding Inglewood neighborhood – The Forum is well on its way to wining back its L.A. buzz. As a music venue, it’s always been top-notch: the bowl shape of the auditorium keeps sight lines clear and near and sounds crisp. For this reason, big-name concerts have never really stopped making this venue their stop while their national and global tours swing through the City of Angels.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at the The Forum:
Upcoming Events at The Forum
7. El Rey Theatre – Miracle Mile
A gorgeous, well-kept holdover from the bygone Art Deco era, the 800-seat El Rey runs an modern, eclectic programming roster that is anything but old-school. In the late ’80s the venue became a popular L.A. dance club called Wall Street; it was designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument No. 520 in 1991, and since 1994 it has been a live music venue offering concerts and other performances. Parking is easy compared to other vnues, the acoustics are excellent, and there’s not a bad seat or line of sight in the house.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at El Rey Theatre:
Upcoming Events at El Rey Theatre
8. The Fonda Theatre – Hollywood
A fresh air break – or even a smoke break – doesn’t mean that you’ll miss the show at Hollywood’s Fonda Theatre (formerly the Music Box), where not only is the internal sound system wired up to the open-air rooftop “speakeasy,” but the live on-stage performance is projected onto the rooftop’s exterior walls. This setup – along with comfy sofas scattered about and an unobstructed view of the bustling Hollywood streets below – makes the top floor of the historic Spanish Revival-style building some of the most coveted live music real estate in the city. Inside, Hieronymus Bosch-like hellscapes line the walls of the 1920s theater, which provides a fitting backdrop for the off-the-beaten-path music acts – mostly indie rock – that grace its stage.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at The Fonda Theatre:
Upcoming Events at the Fonda Theatre
9. The Belasco – Downtown LA
Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the Belasco is a spectacular multi-room event and entertainment complex. Thanks to a recent $12 million restoration, the Belasco Theater was able to retain most of its original dramatic architecture and detailing, and management has invested in putting on numerous show dates with mid-tier and top-tier music talent across all genres. The venue houses the largest D&B Audiotechnik Sound System in Southern California as well as a state-of-the art lighting system, which makes its live production creative potential for large-scale electronic music gatherings immense. For this reason – and because it is a ticketing-friendly 18-and-over venue – some of the notable EDM genre event production outfits with cult followings (e.g. Bassrush, Desert Hearts, Minimal Effort) host their touring events here when they drop in to the City of Angels.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at Belasco:
Upcoming Events at Belasco Theater
10. The Satellite – Silver Lake
The indie music and indie art scene has always been a part of L.A.’s DNA, and never more so than in the hipster epicenter neighborhood of Silver Lake. Silver Lake’s tent pole entertainment venue for years was called Spaceland, and after a relatively recent renovation it is now known as Satellite. Despite the new name, this colorful LGBTQ-friendly no-dress-code come-as-you-are venue remains the leading L.A. shrine to all things indie. For such a small venue, The Satellite has a surprisingly high-quality sound system, along with an upstairs lounge sporting a less crowded bar and photo booth for single hipsters to mingle. Monday nights – which feature free monthly residencies for buzzy local bands getting closer to their Hollywood dreams – is a scene straight out of your favorite 90s movie, and totally worth checking out dude.
Past performing artists Discotech staff members have seen at The Satellite:
Upcoming Events at The Satellite
OK, so you’ve gotten your “live music in L.A.” itch scratched, and for your next chapter in your storybook Hollywood weekend you’re ready to let loose on a pulsating dance floor, amirite? What’s the next step??? Line up your late evening or next day party plans in advance and set aside the appropriate budgets (or sign up for guest lists) using our Discotech app. Available in both the App Store and Google Play and featured on BBC Travel and highly reviewed on Yelp!, Discotech is here to make sure the dayclub and nightclub chorus of your weekend stays in harmony with the rest of your L.A. soundtrack.