Are you a freshman waiting to jump into the San Diego music scene? Are you a local who’s never really been into live music? No matter who you are, The Daily Aztec’s got you covered on venues to check out this fall.
SOMA (Side Stage)
Sports Arena Area / Point Loma
SOMA is an all-ages haven for metalcore and hardcore shows with an atmosphere that suits the music. The venue is split into two stages: a large, movie theater-sized main stage and a smaller side stage. With a lineup consisting of mostly local acts, SOMA Side Stage is a great place to see a friend’s band before going out for the rest of the evening. The shows rarely go past 10:30 p.m., so there’s plenty of time to hit the bar after standing through a mixed bag of bands. However, when Side Stage is full and a national act is rolling through, there are plenty of good times. Bands such as Four Year Strong and Pierce the Veil have had their share of performances on SOMA Side Stage. Some gripe about SOMA’s all-ages crowd and its lack of alcohol, but really, that’s not what it’s about. It should also be noted, main stage should probably be avoided because of less- than-stellar sound and overall atmosphere, but when the time is right at the side stage, it’s easy to feel like you’re 17 again, and that’s a good thing.
House of Blues San Diego
First and foremost, the sound quality at House of Blues is second to none. Granted, it’s a big-name venue and can easily afford top-of-the-line equipment. Secondly, the lineup is varied enough to please everyone. From Reel Big Fish to Circa Survive to old school punk acts such as Rancid, it’s tough to find a show you won’t be into. HoB runs through Ticketmaster, meaning you’ll be charged out the nose with fees (sometimes doubling the price of the ticket). And then there’s the downtown crowd, which can be the very definition of hit or miss. Also, the venue tends to come off as a bit corporate, though to be fair, it is a corporate business. The venue itself does have its own charms with its New Orleans feel. Plus, the balcony is pretty cool, because you can enjoy a show without worrying about getting punched in the face. For bigger shows and great sound, HoB is great. Oh, just be sure to avoid the bar. A tall can of beer is almost $10. Yee-ouch.
Open Air Theater
San Diego State
We at SDSU are lucky to have one of the nicest venues in San Diego right on campus. Not only is the sound great, every seat in the house is good because of the amphitheater layout. Sure, the seats are concrete and may get uncomfortable after a while, but if you’re sitting down during a concert, you’re doing it wrong. Recently, OAT was visited by the likes of FUN., Tenacious D and the teen boy- band sensation One Direction. The biggest concert many are looking forward to is the return of The Shins on Sept. 30. It’s been quite some time since the band has toured, and many consider it great fortune they chose to stop at SDSU. Once again, the downside is occasionally obnoxious patrons and the ludicrous asking price for a pint of beer, but hey. It’s close, it’s fun, there’s nothing better than a concert under the stars. Bring a blanket, because the fall and winter nights can get cold outdoors. But for some San Diegans, sitting outside on a cold night with live music is something to look forward to.
Downtown / Little italy
While it may or may not be the same Casbah The Clash sang about, The Casbah still rocks. With an independent spirit and a consistently excellent lineup of both local and national bands, there’s plenty to do at this venue. Not only does it have a main room with a large stage and a bar, there’s an outside alleyway doubling as a patio you can catch some fresh air— or fresh cigarette smoke. Also, there’s the Atari Lounge in the back, which features a billiards table, another bar and plenty of old arcade games. Even if it was only a bar, the Casbah would still be awesome. Fortunately, it hosts some of the best shows in town and the venue has a legendary history, once regularly housing San Diego legends such as Hot Snakes and Rocket From The Crypt. Late last year, Hot Snakes played a reunion show there that sold out quicker than San Diego’s Comic-Con. Also, last and (arguably) the most important: The bar prices are fair—meaning of a normal bar and not a ridiculous venue. That’s enough to get our vote.
￼The Che Café Collective
University of california, San Diego / La Jolla
While the first four venues are mostly well known, the Ché Café Collective is probably the most underground. Despite this, the storied Ché Café on UCSD’s campus has played host to a bevy of punk, hardcore and indie bands for decades. Though the Ché recently suffered financial woes, a support campaign organized last year brought the venue back from the brink of closure. This speed bump hasn’t slowed the Ché much, though, as it consistently puts on great shows. Just recently, the OFF!—featuring Keith Morris of Black Flag and The Circle Jerks as well as other genre legends—made a stop at the venue. DIY punks RVIVR plays there at least once a year, and Los Angeles-based Touché Amore played at the Ché at least twice last year. True to its name, it also has a café, which serves coffee and all sorts of vegan delicacies. Though it’s a little out of the way, the Ché is one of the best “bang-for-your- buck” venues in San Diego. Be ready to get caught in a circle pit, though, and watch for dudes hanging from the rafters.