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San Francisco's Best Indie Music Venues

If you're wondering where you can find the most outrageous, the latest and greatest, or the best in indie music from around the Bay, there are plenty of excellent venues to choose from. But there are only a few special places that are in the business to offer a fabulous array of top indie music contenders and acts bursting with talent and originality––and here they are:
Bottom of the Hill

Bottom of the Hill
1233 17th St.
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 626-4455

When you're down and troubled and need a helping hand, come hit The Bottom to witness some of the finest new musicians. From alternative, rock-a-billy and hard rock to folk, funk pop and punk, the Bottom is the best place in San Francisco to hear live music played by original up and coming artists. If you like your music loud, this is the spot to see your favorite bands. The venue also offers up bar and lounge areas for those who need a break from dancing in the crowd. All online tickets are will call only––no actual tickets are mailed. To view an upcoming calendar of indie groups rocking Bottom of the Hill, click here.

Make Out Room

Make Out Room
3225 22nd St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
In the Mission District
(415) 647-2888

True to its name, there is making out at this bar, but that's not why this funky little dive is a popular hangout hit. For many who come to see the best in indie music, The Make Out Room offers the hippest, hottest and most original live performers around.  These bands play on a spacious second floor level for the 21 and up crowd, only. Stop in for happy hour before the show to save on $2 PBRs and $3 micros from 6––8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. And to make penny pinchers' wallets extra happy, the Make Out Room offers up free shows once or twice a week, sometimes more. For a detailed calendar of upcoming events, click here.

Related: Best Hipster Hangout Spots In San Francisco

Great American Music Hall
Great American Music Hall (credit:

The Great American Music Hall
859 O'Farrell St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 885-0750

This grand nightclub is a blend of old and new in its architecture, technology and musical entertainment offerings. As San Francisco's oldest nightclub, the vibe of this music hall––everything from the old-time marquee outside to the marble columns that flank the stage–– transports show goers to the early 1900s. When you mix that old world charm with state of the art lighting and sound systems, you get one of San Francisco's most beloved music venues. The Great American's impressive mix of guest artists in the past have included Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughan, Van Morrison, the Grateful Dead, Arcade Fire, Patti Smith and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. For a tickets and a current listing of upcoming indie bands playing at The Great American Music Hall, click here.

Related: Best Summertime Bars In San Francisco

rickshaw stop

Rickshaw Stop 
155 Fell St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 861-2011

This quirky venue packs a punch with its first rate sound system and more than 4,000 square foot entertaining room. This former TV studio is equipped to handle the noise that gets pumped out by performers nightly. Rickshaw Stop has been around since 2004, and has hosted such acts as Tune-Yards, Crocodiles, Wallpaper, Veronica Falls, Leslie & the Lys, Gardens & Villa, Geographer, Freelance Whales, School of Seven Bells, Neon Indian, Tokyo Police Club, and pretty much any other buzzed about artists you could name. For ticket information, click here.

Cafe Du Nord

Café Du Nord
2170 Market St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 861-5016

Café Du Nord is known for showcasing high quality musical acts. This is not your typical hole-in-the-wall joint, but rather, the lounge holds an ambiance that exudes the classic lounge feel from the days of prohibition. Located in the Swedish-American building in the Upper Market district of San Francisco, Café Du Nord has maintained its Victorian features, keeping intact the original paneling and wainscoting, and its huge, hand-carved mahogany bar. With red walls and a dark, luxurious interior, the environment is a perfect fit for enjoying live, avant-garde music and the most eclectic live performances in town — seven nights a week. To see upcoming musicians scheduled to play at Café: click here.

Hemlock Tavern

The Hemlock Tavern
1131 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 923-0923

At Hemlock, you will be pummeled with a host of edgy, original acts which are locally, nationally and internationally known. It's always free to get into the main bar at the Hemlock, but if you want to see the live performances, a cover charge will give you access into the separate performance room where all the magic happens. This bar is strictly 21 and up, and IDs are definitely a must. To view a list of upcoming shows, visit The Hemlock Tavern's calendar.

Kelly Gullo is a freelance writer in San Francisco, CA. Kellys topics are about music and nightlife. Kelly has also written a variety of articles on health and dieting and topics related to the environment. Kelly has a degree in journalism and public relations from Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. Her work can be found at


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