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Jazz & Syria Quintet at Freight & Salvage © Eric Golub/Flickr
Jazz & Syria Quintet at Freight & Salvage © Eric Golub/Flickr

The Best Open Mic Venues In Oakland & Berkeley

Picture of Nicole Arca
Updated: 15 November 2016
Whether you’re a rising artist looking to perform at an intimate venue or simply a person who’s craving live music and perhaps some good poetry, here’s a list of the best live music and open mic venues in Oakland and Berkeley to satisfy your needs.

The Starry Plough Pub

Want some chilled vibes and great fries? The Starry Plough has both. Located on the perimeter of Oakland and Berkeley, this Bay Area favorite always attracts a good crowd for its live music and poetry slams. If you’re free on a Tuesday night, you won’t want to miss the open mic, where a variety of artists — from slam poets to folk musicians — share their craft.

The Starry Plough Pub, 3101 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA, USA +1 510 841 0188

Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse

Freight & Salvage is the ideal blend of atmosphere and performance. Not only is it absolutely beautiful — complete with state-of-the-art acoustics (especially for a coffeehouse) and warm lighting — but you can also drink wine or coffee while enjoying the performances of the night. Can’t call in a babysitter? No worries; the vibe at Freight & Salvage is kid-friendly.

The Alley

While not quite an open mic venue, The Alley is known for its singalongs at the piano bar with resident pianist Rod Dibble. This bar is open ’til the wee hours of the morning (2am from Tuesdays to Saturdays, 12am on Mondays and Sundays), so it’s perfect for watching others sing late night tunes. Have a drink or two, and you might end up singing with them.


The Alley, 3325 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA, USA +1 510 444 8505

 

The Octopus Literary Salon

Although The Octopus Literary Salon is small in size, it effectively serves as a coffee shop, bookstore, and live poetry venue. You’ll love The Octopus’s artsy feel, captured by its décor (bookshelves on bookshelves and porcelain plateware).

The Octopus Literary Salon, 2101 Webster St, Oakland, CA, USA +1 510 844 4120

 

La Peña Cultural Center

La Peña is a community center that puts on some pretty amazing events — not just open mics, but showcases of Latin dance and music. It also provides dance classes, ranging from capoeira to tango. If you’re hungry, try Café Valparaiso next door for some yummy Chilean cuisine.

La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA, USA +1 510 849 2568

 

Art House Gallery and Cultural Center

On the first Sunday of every month, the Art House Gallery and Cultural Center hosts an open mic night called Poetry Unbound. Art House is unmistakably a Berkeley venue; the ’60s vibe will have you feeling like the coolest person on the planet.

Art House Gallery and Cultural Center, 2905 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA, USA +1 510 472 3170

 

The Stork Club

The Stork Club, known for its comedy-centered open mics on Thursday evenings, is much grittier in feel than the venues listed above, but it’s a well-loved dive bar that is welcoming to local bands. Come out for a beer, live music, and some laughs.

The Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA, USA +1 510 444 6174