Oakland is famous for great jazz, but this isn't all the city has to offer. Latin, rock, country, pop and of course the best hyphy rap in the Bay are featured in East Bay clubs. Many of Oakland's live music clubs showcase up and coming artists with open mic nights to help newcomers break out. Blakes on Telegraph, the Stork Club and 924 Gilman Street are all popular venues to check out alternative acts for those who have already gotten their fill of jazz and blues. For an even more unique show, Temple Bar in Berkeley features live Hawaiian tunes on the weekends. Of course, these local bands probably won't all be great, but it is likely that the shows will be cheap and have inexpensive libations. So when you're good and sauced, the music just gets better.
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The 5th Amendment
3255 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.832.3242
Oakland singles with a live music bent head to the 5th Amendment to score, but even if love isn't in the cards for you, the thumping, rollicking jazz, blues and R&B from various local acts will get your body moving nonetheless. An Oakland institution for live music, the 5th Amendmant is often standing-room only on the weekends, but the wall-to-wall crowds enhance the flavor and create an intimate "you know me, I know you " atmosphere, even if it does take a little longer to get a drink. Despite its meat market reputation, this club has more kitschy cool than any of your overpriced, cookie cutter clubs; you'll have a better time and hear the best live jazz in the East Bay.
1317 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.525.5054
Ashkenaz is an all-ages dance venue for live music, and beer and wine are offered if you need that drink in order to lubricate your social wheels or get some liquid courage. However, once you hear the slamming beats from some of the Bay Area's and the world's best eclectic artists, drinks will seem superfluous. The live music is as diverse as the crowd, and the dance floor at Ashkenaz is packed with people gyrating to the music with seriously positive vibes.
428 3rd Street, Oakland, California; Tel. 510.463.0165
Club Anton is the chicest Latin Jazz club in Oakland whose live music choices pop as much as their décor, too often you see clubs go for style over substance, but not so with Club Anton. The musical guests are deeply rooted in the Latin vein, but do spread across into hip-hop and reggae especially when there's a DJ. Seriously if you're looking for one of the best places in Oakland for a fiery Latin dance party, Club Anton has got your back every weekend.
135 12th St., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.763.0404
Club Oasis represents exactly what's so cool about Oakland dance clubs. From the shabby chic furniture to the outdoor, tiki-themed dance floor and the thumping, deep grooved music provided by the East Bay's premier DJ's, Club Oasis gets it right. The drinks can get a little pricey, but what this dance club lacks in libation value it more than makes up for in ambiance.
The Ivy Room
858 San Pablo Ave., Albany, California; Tel. 510.524.9220
The Ivy Room embodies a classic dive bar feel and plays host to some of the best of the Bay Area's live music acts. The emphasis is on rock & roll, alt-country and power-pop, with some East Bay punk and rockabilly thrown in for flavor. Bend your elbow and your ear, hang with some friends and soak up this great dive bar.
The Saddle Rack
42011 Boscell Rd., Fremont, California; Tel. 510.979.0477
This legendary dance club specializes in catering to country-loving patrons that can't make it to the south. The Saddle Rack is a massive structure, continually packed with two-steppin' cowpokes and bull riders (yes, of course there's a mechanical bull, and after a few better-than-average priced drinks we're sure you'll give it a try). And if that wasn't enough to wet your whistle, The Saddle Rack attracts nationally recognized country live music acts and also sports a house band that can always get the joint rocking.
504 Lake Park Ave., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.832.2644
If you love the blues and aren't claustrophobic, head over to the The Serenader, Oakland's best party spot. This live music club is tiny and always full, but everyone is riding a phenomenal feel good vibe that doesn't end even at 2am. At The Serenader, the bands cook better than Iron Chefs, the drinks are reasonable and strong, and there's a patio out back if you need a breather—but with local Oakland blues blasting away, why would you? As a live music venue this is certainly the most hip, happening blues club around.
510 Embarcadero West, Oakland, California; Tel. 510.238.9200
An Oakland institution for over twenty-five years, Yoshi's Jazz Club regularly features world class talent from both nationally recognized jazz legends and local live music acts. The sounds and sights are the best you're going to find in Oakland, or for that matter in all of Northern California, and the soulful jazz sounds are magnificent from the state of the art speaker system. And as a nice juxtaposition, Yoshi's also houses a fine Japanese restaurant focusing on favorites like sushi and sashimi; but get there early if you want to enjoy dinner and a show, because this joint gets packed. Yoshi's Jazz Club is, quite simply, a landmark establishment and an Oakland must.
Blakes on Telegraph
2367 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.848.0886
Blakes on Telegraph is a three tiered, all in one, local bar and hangout spot for Cal students while being completely welcoming to the diverse Berkeley crowd. The live music club floor is really a basement, but unlike the one you spent your youth playing D&D in, this one freakin' rocks. It has its own bar and you can dance your heart out to slick DJ stylings or thrashing live music. The main floor is traditionally music free, but when the bands start up downstairs there's a comfortable thump to the floorboards while you're munching the good bar fare. Upstairs is modeled after a classic SoHo bohemian coffeehouse with a bar, and also houses occasional acoustic live music.
Cafe Van Kleef
1621 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.763.7711
This modest little venue houses one of the hippest live music scenes in Oakland, with bands playing nightly. At Cafe Van Kleef the music ranges in genre, but is always cool—just like the patrons: you're likely to see everyone from young punk rockers to the biz pro set standing side by side at the bar. The decor is as eclectic as the music and the accomodating bar staff makes sure everyone is pleased; and, hey, the owners pass around free food all evening long. You just can't beat that kind of customer service.
2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.444.6174
Gosh, where to go to hear up to three hard rocking punk bands a night, get heavy drinks that won't bust the wallet and Christmas year round? Try The Stork Club, a phenomenal place to catch all of Oakland's live punk music. It's everything you could ever want; a casual and raucous crowd, cheap drinks (check out the happy hour—Like PBR for $2? Yeah, we thought you did.) and bartenders that keep pouring, and pouring. Hands down the best dive bar for the live music punk scene.
Temple Bar— Tiki Bar & Grill
984 University Ave., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.548.9888
If Cal offered a degree in Hawaiian cultural studies, drinking and dining at Temple Bar would be a core requirement for graduation. Here you're encouraged to hang out with everyone, and believe us everyone will want to hang out with you because the
atmosphere is like a family reunion; one that you really want to go to that is. Classic Pacific Rim dining fare mix with island cocktails and on the weekends catch the live Hawaiian music.
924 Gilman Street
924 Gilman St., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.525.9926
924 Gilman Street, also known as the Alternative Music Foundation, is a haven for those wishing to hear solid East bay punk and alternative live music in an alcohol free atmosphere. The club is always packed when local acts play and the age range is from teens getting dropped off by their parents to seasoned punk veterans that want to see a favorite local band. Seriously, almost every East Bay punk and alternative rocker has cut their teeth on this stage, so that band you're seeing now could be the
next Green Day.
3101 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.841.2082
A dirty dive bar with a unanimous badly reviewed menu, Starry Plough doesn't offer much except cheap drinks and some good live music in the more alternative vein. However, if they get their act together in both service and food then this could become a regular pit stop on our dive bar crawl.
Talk of the Town
4481 International Blvd., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.534.8255
Heck, strong drinks, good Mexican food, live local music acts downstairs and headliners upstairs; we really don't need to say anything more. Except that Talk of the Town is a hip little joint with a great local bar feel, that packs in a tuned in, friendly crowd whenever there's live music. Really, Oakland has no other place like this, so now you're obligated to check it out.
1822 San Pablo Ave., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.843.2473
A neighborhood college bar and Old World pub have found a common nexus at the Albatross Pub, where you can find an eclectic crowd, good conversation, and a host of entertainment. Free live music on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays (that's right free) in a variety of styles usually packing the pub on these nights and on other nights there's an undeniable neighborhood bar feel that makes you want to return.
522 Second St., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.444.6979
A salsa dance club that also offers lessons for those of us with two left feet, Kimball's Carnaval, features live music in the latin and salsa traditions, when a band isn't driving you to tear it up on the dance floor, there are DJs to get the job done.
1928 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, California; Tel. 510.451.8100
Have you seen that huge guitar shaped neon sign on Telegraph Ave? No, The Starving Musician isn't selling out, that's Uptown, a rock & roll themed live music club that sports a huge bar, a seperate room replete with stage and dance floor, and some well poured, potent cocktails. Most of the interior is dimly lit which lends this club an air of rock elegence, but don't let that fool you, Uptown gets rollin' with some good live music acts.
Shattuck Down Low
2284 Shattuck St., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.548.1159
Shattuck Down Low is where Cal students come to get their groove on and blow off some steam. A venerable dance club that goes off on the weekends with an eclectic mix of DJs spinning everything from old school funk to modern dance and hip-hop tracks, Shattuck Down Low is a nightly high energy party. They also get some good live music in there and with three bars, even on busy nights, you can get a cocktail in timely fashion, which is how we rate clubs.
Freight and Salvage
1111 Addison St., Berkeley, California; Tel. 510.548.1761
A holdover from the Berkeley hippie era when all you needed was an eclectic live show done acoustically, some good coffee, peace, love and happiness to keep you happy. Freight and Salvage, still not serving any booze, remains on the forefront of this scene scoring, not only world renowned headliners, but playing host to little known local musicians as well.
6005 Shellmound St., Emeryville, California; Tel. 510.658.2555
Kimballs East has to be one of the top ten date destinations in the East Bay, they get phenomenal live music that's usually jazz or R&B, and the cuisine is of the fresh California variety. The service at Kimballs is always outstanding perfectly complimenting the drinks and food. So, impress your next date with a night out for some good food and hot live music; you'll prove yourself to be more sophisticated than they previously thought.
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