Rock and Pop
Opened in the late 1960s, The Fillmore (1805 Geary Blvd., 415/346-6000, www.thefillmore.com) ignited the careers of legendary bands such as Santana and The Grateful Dead. This popular venue now hosts everything from concerts to theme parties.
Started by rock veteran Boz Scaggs in 1988, Slim’s (333 11th St., 415/255-0333, www.slims-sf.com) showcases everything from the Subhumans to Billy Bob Thornton. Dinner tickets are the only way to score an actual seat.
The Warfield (982 Market St., 415/567-2060) is one of the older rock venues in the City. It started out as a vaudeville palace in the early 1900s, booking major jazz acts as well as variety shows. The Warfield’s configuration is that of a traditional theater, with a raised stage, an open orchestra section below it, and two balconies rising up and facing the stage. There’s limited table seating on the lowest level (mostly by reservation), reserved seats in the balconies, and open standing in the orchestra below the stage.
The Warfield books all sorts of acts, from Bill Maher to alternative rock; the likes of Evanescence, Weezer, and Death Cab for Cutie have played the Warfield. The downsides of hitting the shows at the Warfield include the somewhat shabby details of the interior, which is minor. The bigger problem is the total lack of parking—you’ll need to hunt for a spot at one of the local public parking structures, and you’ll pay for the privilege.
Given the dense crowd of tourists in the Fisherman’s Wharf area, it’s no surprise that a few bars and clubs offer live music to entertain the masses and keep them buying drinks late into the evening. Despite its locale, Bimbo’s 365 Club (1025 Columbus Ave., 415/474-0365, www.bimbos365club.com, tickets $15–35, cash-only bar) retains its reputation as a favorite venue for locals. Opened in 1931 by an Italian immigrant looking to create a fun and fabulous club to help San Francisco residents take their minds off the gloom of the Depression. The club moved to the Columbus Avenue location in 1951, and became a favorite of San Francisco legend Herb Caen as well as many other local socialites.
Today, major accessible acts such as Chris Isaak and the Brian Setzer Orchestra play Bimbo’s. You might even luck out and catch Robin Williams working up new stand-up material here. The club itself, with its shabby chic interior and atmosphere, remains a beloved elder statesman with a heavy local following.
The Gold Dust Lounge (247 Powell St., 415/397-1695, daily 7 a.m.–2 a.m.) hosts country, pop, and R&B bands most every night of the week. You can also get a decent drink, and enjoy the slightly bizarre red and gold decor of this San Francisco landmark.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition