Feel the beat at Sacramento's best live music venues

Though San Francisco and Los Angeles may be better known for producing California rock stars, Sacramento hasn't been without local-talent-turned-national-chart-toppers.

Eighties blues metal band Tesla, alt/rock groups Cake, the Deftones, and Papa Roach, and dozens of lesser-known others all got their start in and around Sacramento.

For hopefuls, up-and-comings, and returning stars, there are lots of live music venues to play at, from intimate bars and jamming nightclubs to the 12,000-seat Arco Arena.

For fans and showgoers, that means there's no shortage of live music to catch on any given Saturday (or Wednesday, or Sunday, or really any) night.

Sacramento News and Review readers voted Harlow's, Old Ironsides, and Blue Lamp the best live music venues of 2010, while their editorial staff chose Sol Collective as the "Best place to fight injustice, dig art, and head-nod to killer bands."

Meanwhile, the Sacramento State students running ("a guide to all things Sacramento") prefer The Press Club and the Fox and Goose (Harlow's is on their list of recommended establishments, too).

And blogger Nick On The Town's cheat sheet for Sacramento lists most of the above -- plus Luigi's Fun Garden, Marilyn's on K, the Torch Club, and others -- as Nick's recommended spots to see live music.

Pick up a copy of the Sacramento News and Review, check out gig-listing site Undietacos, or visit any of these venues' websites (below) for upcoming shows.

Sac Live Music Venues

Check out this map to see where all these venues are in relation to each other and the Sacramento Hostel.

Arco Arena
1 Sports Parkway
The biggest concert venue in Sacramento (it doubles as the NBA's Sacramento Kings stadium), you'll find big-name bands (and relatively expensive tickets) here. In March, Eric Clapton, Lady Gaga, and the Music as a Weapon tour (featuring Disturbed and Korn) play here. Tickets for these three shows range from $40 to $180 each.

2708 J Street
Dance to live swing music here almost every night. Expect to pay a $7-$10 cover, keep an eye out for very tall guys (NBA players frequent the club after Kings games), and check out the upstairs cigar bar if you get sick of dancing.

Old Ironsides
1901 10th Street
Nick On The Town calls this spot an "unpretentious classic," where you'll find live music at least five nights a week, a cover charge under $10, Pabst Blue Ribbon for $2 a pint, and, on Tuesday nights, the "longest running indie dance party," titled Lipstick.

The Blue Lamp
1400 Alhambra Boulevard
Local favorites (like the Secretions and the Nibblers) and smaller national bands fill up this club's upcoming calendar. Tickets are typically under $12.

Sol Collective
2574 21st Street
The Sacramento News and Review calls this "a place to see great, one-of-a-kind live music." More than just a music venue, they're also an art gallery, host politically oriented events, and sponsor a youth mentoring program.

The Press Club
2030 P Street
A favorite, their review is pretty straightforward: "This place may be a shithole, but it's always been the best live music bar in Sacramento." Local and national acts alike play here, and it's within stumbling distance of several bars.

Fox and Goose
1001 R Street
Want beer and a band? (Or an afternoon soccer match, since this IS an English pub...) Find live shows most weekends, in addition to Monday open mic nights, Tuesday trivia nights, every-other-Wednesday acoustic music, and a once-a-month Irish jam session.

Luigi's Fun Garden
1050 20th Street
When it first opened a couple years ago, Sacramento News and Review called this pizza joint/music venue an "all-ages Eden," since you don't have to be 21 to get in (some shows are 18+). It mostly features independent and unknown acts, and it's generally a $5 cover.

Marilyn's on K
908 K Street
Nick On The Town's "ABC's of Drinking in Sacramento" says Marilyn's "has stood strong as an oasis for Sacramento's music lovers." Local star Jackie Greene made a name for himself playing here, there's live band karaoke every Thursday night, and every once in a while they host a grunge rock party.

Naked Lounge Downtown
1111 H Street
This one's easy -- it's just one block from the Sacramento Hostel. It's a coffee shop by day, a small lounge bar by night. And they host live music almost every night -- for just a $5 cover.

Torch Club
904 15th Street
The Torch Club is known as one of the best blues clubs in Sacramento, and features bands from all over the Bay Area as well as some national acts. They've recently been called "the center of the blues in Sacramento" by the Sacramento Bee.

The Distillery
2107 L Street
This restaurant (lunch and dinner) features live music (generally hard rock) every Friday and Saturday, plus karaoke Sunday - Thursday.

Shady Lady
1409 R Street
A popular bar on a block full of popular bars, Shady Lady features live music and DJs seven days a week. Some bands are local, some are touring -- and they range from country to jazz, blues to reggae.

Local acts

Hoping to hear a home-grown Sacramento group, but don't know where to start or who you'll like? Check out the Sacramento News and Review's "Sammies" awards -- featuring the year's best local bands, DJs, and more (in almost 30 different music genres) as voted on by readers.

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If You Go 

Stay at the historic Sacramento Hostel, located in the heart of downtown, just 4 blocks from the Capitol.

Check out this map to see where live music venues are in relation to each other and the hostel.