With so many awesome underground venues to catch a show at, it can be hard to know which ones are the most legit. We’ve narrowed it down to our top five favorite indie-music spots.
Note: All locations are 21-and-up unless otherwise stated.
With killer acoustics, dive-bar vibes and local artists taking the stage, this spot is a hidden gem. The ‘50s-style booths and $5 shot-and-a-beer deal keep us hooked. However, it’s the nearly-every-night live music from all types of local indie bands that make this place shine. The dim-lit dance floor gets everyone grooving, even if you hate dancing. This location is cash only, so be prepared. Open 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
3829 30th St. North Park . barpink.com
Though it may be small, Soda Bar packs a punch. Live music can be heard every night of the week at this casual venue which sees every type of genre from folk to garage punk-rock. The full bar with a happy hour from 5 to 9 p.m. is ideal for grabbing an ice cold PBR while enjoying that post-modern rock band you’ve been dying to see. Definitely a top on our list for San Diego indie locations.
3615 El Cajon Blvd., Normal Heights. sodabarmusic.com
The Che Cafe
The all-ages club, with no bar to offer, focuses directly on the music. The Che has been going through the ringer with attempts of closure by UCSD, who owns the venue, but have recently come out on the other side of the controversy, for now. The Che continues to be a location where true music-lovers can get together and hear what’s good. The community outlet for indie music has housed many local bands as well as big-name talent like Nirvana, Billy Corgan and Bright Eyes.
9500 Gilman Dr. La Jolla. thechecafe.blogspot.com
Brick by Brick
Neon lights surround the pool tables here, also featuring vintage video games and a spacious stage for performers. It tends to get pretty hot in this arena, which is perfect mosh-weather for the mainly rock-music venue. Thin Lizzy, Megadeth and Blue Oyster Cult have all come through this historic hole-in-the-wall. Open 8 p.m. to 2 p.m. on showdays.
1130 Buenos Ave., San Diego. brickbybrick.com
If you love whiskey and you love live music, you’re in luck because you just found your new favorite bar. This dark, speakeasy-style pub boasts over 50 types of whiskey and many original cocktail drinks. There is also a separate room with a second bar area and a stage for performances. Seven Grand features live jazz, funk, soul and more.
3054 University Ave., North Park. sevengrandbars.com
Bigger than its outside gives it credit for, The Merrow is a quintessential venue with a daily happy hour until 8 p.m., including $3 well shots and $5 taster flights. This awesome facility features all types of indie music in an old Irish bar setting. Bands are given a chance to hone their craft within their community on the stage while frequent art exhibits and an overwhelming support for all things local surround the scene.
1271 University Ave., North Park. themerrow.com