The Best Spots for Live Music in Sacramento, California
Sacramento’s music scene is as diverse as it is thriving. From international megastars to local bands, heavy metal to indie, and everything in between, the venues here in California’s capital have it all. Whatever your musical taste, there’s sure to be something for you here, so let your hair down and take a look through The Culture Trip’s guide to the top spots for live music in Sacramento.
Pollstar ranked Ace of Spades as 30th in the world (and 2nd in California) for worldwide ticket sales in the first three quarters of 2015, an indication of the club’s popularity. This all-ages venue in Sacramento’s historic R Street Corridor has four bars, a VIP area with bottle service, and a family-friendly dining area to ensure that all their guests are accommodated. Every spring Ace of Spades hosts Heavy Fest, billed as a “Local Music Showcase” that also attracts international artists like Machine Head, Lights, George Ezra, and Escape the Fate.
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Owners Gabi and Ben Garcia have improved upon this local favorite since taking over in 2013, bringing what they hope is a neighborhood bar feel to Blue Lamp. Bands often play at this dimly lit and atmospheric place outside of their usual national tour dates, and the venue also welcomes small, lesser-known outfits, tribute acts, and local groups like The Secretions and The Nibblers. One night you may hear stoner metal and garage rock, and the next, hip-hop and reggae.
Looking like a club straight out of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Harlow’s is a hip, art deco affair that hosts dinner shows, playing a mix of blues, swing, soul, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, and a dance floor awaits those who wish to take the stage themselves. For a touch of class, rent out one of the VIP booths which come complete with bottle service and a personal hostess. Connected to Harlow’s is the MoMo Lounge, which offers a full bar, outdoor patio, fire pits, and a 30ft projection wall.
The oldest bar in Sacramento has been run by the Kanelos family since 1934, and so can rightly lay claim to being the city’s premiere music venue. With its vintage décor and collection of antique nautical equipment, Old Ironsides has maintained an old-fashioned charm through its decades of service to the local music scene, hosting bands like Pavement, Cake, and Death Cab for Cutie in its illustrious history. The Lipstick Weekender features indie rock, Britpop, and 60s soul, while Tuesday is karaoke night.
The Fox & Goose Public House has brought live music to Sacramento in a traditional English pub setting for some 40 years now. The city’s longest running open mic night takes place on Mondays, while Wednesdays are dedicated to funk, soul, and old-school vinyl. Acoustic singer-songwriters take center stage on Thursdays, and full bands on Fridays and Saturdays. A range of genres can be heard, from bluegrass to reggae and rockabilly to indie pop. British and Irish draft beers are available to lend some added cheer to proceedings.