San Diego’s Soundiest Spots

Although I’ve spent a decade and a half taking in shows in San Diego I do not claim to be an expert on venues by any means. For most of my formative years I only went to big venues and didn’t discover the wonders of intimate settings until I was probably in my 20’s (that sounds much dirtier than I mean it to be). These days my favorite shows take place in smaller venues, yet I still love me a big ass show because I’m a radio-ho and still love big time bands. Yes, I like Kings of Leon and Death Cab for Cutie. If you want to stop reading now, I understand.

That being said, with my introductory post I give you my top 5 favorite venues (at the moment, of course) in and around San Diego:

1. The Casbah: This one is easy. Though I’ve only stopped in for a few shows here-  this one has it all. It’s small, it’s funky, it’s awesome. You can easily get up close and personal with artists meandering around the club, whether they happen to be playing that night or not. You can get close to the stage if you want sweat flung on you or you can hang back by the bar, yet still see and hear everything just as well. The Atari Lounge is an added bonus, tucked in the back with its own bar and own personality. Plus The Casbah is celebrating their 23rd anniversary this month so extra props for staying power. [Side note: I’m a sucker for a tall PBR can for $4.50 at The Casbah- does that make me a hipster or white trash?]

Say hello to the jungle cat in the Atari Lounge... or else.

2. Belly-Up Tavern: This bar is perfect for anyone. If you wanna sit down (pansy)- you can do that, if you wanna get up and dance- you can do that and if you wanna chill at the bar- you can definitely do that. It’s small but not too small and close to lots of great eateries and bars. It’s a bit of a drive up to Solana Beach, but they get some great acts coming through so sometimes you gotta suck it up.

3. San Diego Sports Arena Valley View Casino Center:  My first concert ever was R.E.M. at the Sports Arena when I was about 13 (?). I know it’s a huge place, I know the beers are over priced, but I still love going to shows here. Because of the mammoth arena setting they get big bands here and it’s a short drive from home. For a big venue, this is my pick. Minus points for the stupid/confusing name change.

4. Multi-Stage Venues: I know this isn’t a specific venue, but it’s my blog so…. deal with it. I like going to shows where they either alternate bands on two stages or you can choose between stages while bands play simultaneously. I feel like you get more bang for your buck. Last year I saw Independence Jam at Oceanside Amphitheater, Rocktoberfest behind the Birch North Park Theatre and closed the year out with New Year’s Eve at the LaFayette Hotel on New Years Eve. Each line up boasted a bunch of bands on multiple stages and included some local wonders. With dual stages the excitement was that much more palpable. While the “bigger” acts might have sold the tickets, I credit these venues for introducing me to some incredible local bands- a couple of whom I’m semi-obsessed with at this point.

5. Anthology: Ok so I’ve been here once. But it is such an awesome spot I immediately placed it in my favorites. You can get dinner here, get really great cocktails and take in a night of music in a relaxing, chic environment where every seat gives you a great perspective. It’s fancy-ish being in Little Italy but not too pretentious and not too commercial (see: House of Blues). I am enamored with this place and absolutely have to go on a date here… someday. *sigh*

Ta-da! My first posty post on this here blog. Feedback welcome! And if you see me dancing my face off with a PBR in hand at these (or any) venues make sure you say “hi” or “cheers” or “try not to fall!”


About Jen Van Tieghem

There aren’t many things I love more than music. While life spins away at a rapid beat I’ve realized it’s important to spend it doing what I love – enjoying music in San Diego. I have a handful of favorite venues, a heart full of favorite bands, and decided to write about it.

9 comments on “San Diego’s Soundiest Spots

  1. Oh how I love living in this bloggy blog world! Cheers to this here blog may you see some kick ass shows, drink some kick ass beer and always dance your ass off! Such a cool idea can’t wait to see more : )


  2. Good job Jennifer. Hope to get to SD someday and have you show me around.


  3. […] my second, and much more memorable, set by Dead Feather Moon two nights prior. Plus The Casbah tops my top five venues list and continues to impress me with a well-balanced, fun-loving crowd, affordable drinks, prime […]


  4. […] Soundiest Spots, in which I take a stab at picking my favorite venues. […]


  5. […] contender for my favorite SD band. I love love love them. Also, have I mentioned my affinity for The Casbah? This show is a recipe for awesome. Side note: I wonder if I can make my friends do a midnight […]


  6. […] and The Howls have just entered my radar by kicking some major ass when I saw them last month. Add one of my favorite venues, a pre-show interview with Greg Peters of DFM, and two good friends coming along to the show and […]


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