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The Best Spots for Live Music in Fresno, California
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The Best Spots for Live Music in Fresno, California

Picture of Josh Wright
Updated: 11 December 2015
Fresno’s music scene may not have quite the same cultural relevance as that of the Bay Area to the west, but it can still draw established names, and its participants can put on a hell of a show. The city has a thriving jazz scene, with regular events held across the city, and rock and metal fans are also well-served. This guide takes you through the best places for a concert in Fresno.
Fay Wrays performing at Fulton 55 | © Daniel Schultz/Flickr
Fay Wrays performing at Fulton 55 | © Daniel Schultz/Flickr
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Fulton 55

At 7,500 ft2 and with a 500-person capacity, Fulton 55 is the largest live music venue in Fresno. Its size has attracted big-name acts like Ghostface Killah and Mobb Deep, but it’s not just hip-hop fans that are catered for here – bands playing punk, metal, reggae, and everything in between have played at Fulton 55 in the past. There’s also an upper mezzanine level equipped with its own bar and a host of leather sofas for those who want to view the stage from above and avoid getting into the thick of it on the dance floor.

875 Divisadero St, Fresno, CA, +1 559-412-7400

Weatherbox rocking out at Audie’s Olympic | © Daniel Schultz/Flickr
Weatherbox rocking out at Audie’s Olympic | © Daniel Schultz/Flickr
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Audie’s Olympic

Audie’s Olympic is found within Fresno’s Tower District, the city’s arts and entertainment hub. It may be dark inside this rock bar but the lack of light only serves to add to its ambiance. Along with the regular open mic nights that are hosted here, three monthly shows dedicated to Motown, disco, and reggae (as well as dance hall, rocksteady, and dub) draw a more diverse clientele than the usual rockers who maintain a soft spot for Audie’s dive bar aesthetic.

1426 N Van Ness Ave, Fresno, CA, +1 559-233-3733

The Tower District | © Dale Carlson/Flickr
The Tower District | © Dale Carlson/Flickr
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Strummer’s

This spot is named after the legendary frontman of punk rock band The Clash, Joe Strummer, which gives a hint as to what kind of music is played here. Previous guests that have continued the punk legacy include Joyce Manor and Adolescents, while The Ataris, Atreyu, and Napalm Death have brought alternative rock, metalcore, and death metal respectively to Strummer’s. There are a range of cocktails to choose from and weekly rotating microbrews on draught for the thirsty. The liberal use of air-conditioning is very welcome on those nights when you’re packed in like sardines.

833 E Fern Ave, Fresno, CA, +1 559-485-5356

Tokyo Garden | © R Kurtz/Flickr
Tokyo Garden | © R Kurtz/Flickr
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Tokyo Garden

A Fresno institution, Tokyo Garden was opened more than 60 years ago and lays claim to hosting the city’s longest running jazz night, which began back in 2003. As a traditional Japanese restaurant and bar, karaoke is a staple, but the jazz jam sessions are the real reason to pay a visit. Every Sunday seasoned musicians like pianists Craig Von Berg and David Aus, bassist John Lauffenburger, drummer Brian Hamada, the Richard Giddens Trio, and guitarist and Director of Jazz Studies at Fresno City College, Mike Dana, play improvised sets for Tokyo Garden’s gleeful guests.

1711 Fulton St, Fresno, CA, +1 559-268-3596

Viper City Brass Band performing at Frank’s Place in 2010 | © Andrew Ranta/Flickr
Viper City Brass Band performing at Frank’s Place in 2010 | © Andrew Ranta/Flickr
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Frank’s Place

Frank’s Place is found within the Warnors Centre for the Performing Arts, an historic building that dates back to 1928. This elegant venue can hold 350 people, or 200 when the entertainment for the evening is a more refined affair requiring seating booths and tables. The “Beats, Bikes & Brews” evening — an event that encourages attendees to cycle to Frank’s Place and enjoy craft beer on tap while listening to a DJ — now happens monthly. Californian acts The Growlers and Mayer Hawthorne have also made appearances here.

1432 Fulton St, Fresno, CA, +1 559-264-2848

By Josh Wright