Now that the Uptown is gone (yes, the Uptown venue on Telegraph closed November 5th, read about it here), there’s a giant guitar-neck-shaped hole in the heart of Oakland. “What are we going to do now?” seems to the collective cry of dedicated showgoers throughout the city. With regular parties like the Hubba Hubba Revue, Hella Gay and the always free First Friday shows suddenly adrift in a sea of venues, fans of live shows and performers alike need to fret about the future of music at mid-sized, affordable venues. While certainly there are various cafes (like Awaken Café), record stores (like 1-2-3-4 Go!) and art galleries (like Moco) that showcase a mélange of local musical talent, smaller venues don’t offer the full bar and late-night dance appeal that a fully licensed nightclub offers. On the other hand, big name venues (like The New Parish and The Fox) bring in international acts that charge a pretty penny. Outlying venues (like Yoshi’s) and restaurants (like Duende) have cultivated a scene specific to genres that don’t tug on the heart strings of pop music lovers. And while there are still plenty of underground party spots (too many to even name) that throw banging ragers, I’m not trying to blow those secret spots up in this post. Instead, even in the absence of the Uptown, there are plenty of mid-sized venues that host not only up-and-coming local talent but also nationally notorious acts. So, before you throw in the towel when it comes to your $5 cover charge and $7 whiskey-cokes, rest assured that there are still plenty of venues throughout Oakland that can keep you consistently entertained during these cold, Oakland nights.

The Legionnaire Saloon

The Legionnaire Saloon

Legionnaire Saloon: 2272 Telegraph Avenue Legionnaire has been open for almost two years now, and after replacing several incarnations of a music venue, Legionnaire has gained a reputation for putting on some wild, crazy, packed-to-the-walls shows. With regular DJs downstairs and rotating acts upstairs, Legionnaire hosts mainly hip-hop and local rock shows. The cozy atmosphere upstairs makes for intimate performances, with acts such as Pep Love of Hieroglyphics and Masta Ace. Located just a few blocks from the old Uptown and right in the middle of First Friday, Legionnaire is an excellent place to catch live shows while standing shoulder to shoulder with other sweaty music aficionados. The Night Light: 311 Broadway Located in Jack London Square, the Night Light has earned a name for itself by putting on shows that feature the best and the brightest of the Bay Area rock’n’roll scene. With DJs until 2 a.m. every night, and a moody, red speakeasy ambience, the Night Light is known for booking solid shows throughout the week, which means that you can find a great show to watch even on unsuspecting off nights like a Tuesday. Despite being slightly off the beaten path of Uptown, the Night Light still draws a crowd for big name acts like The Impediments and Twin Steps. If you’re looking to sip on a cocktail while experiencing anything from too-cool-for-school garage rock to ambient noise music, the Night Light’s got you covered. Eli’s Mile High Club: 3629 Martin Luther King Jr. Way A staple of the punk rock and metal scene, Eli’s is a grimy neighborhood bar tucked beneath the freeway by the MacArthur BART station. Known for booking a variety of local acts, as well as recently hosting the garage rocky Total Trash Fest, Eli’s is a good place to get a beer and a shot, either while watching the band or taking a smoke break on the back patio. Eli’s doesn’t stay open late every night, but when there’s a show, prepare to get drunk and get down. Oakland Metro: 630 3rd Street The Oakland Metro has become a legend in its own right for throwing some of the best, must-go-to punk and metal shows in the Bay Area. With a space big enough to accommodate a rave, the Oakland Metro brings national headliners to a quiet part of Oakland, with acts such as GBH, Zion I, Eye Hate God and events like the two-day festival Dead Fest. With monthly events such as Hoodslam and Tourettes Without Regrets, you can also catch wrestling, battle rapping and naked women cavorting around the stage while sipping on your vodka Red Bull. 924 Gilman: 924 Gilman, Berkeley Yeah, I know The Gilman isn’t technically in Oakland, but how could I write about venues without throwing this one in? If you’re not entirely opposed to venturing out of Oakland for a night of raucous fun, and if you’re also not opposed to possibly being surrounded by (yes, that’s right) Berkeley High kids, you might find yourself being coaxed into a night at The Gilman. It’s a seminal punk venue, known for being the place where local acts like Green Day got their start. Nowadays, The Gilman is a good place where local acts can play for younger fans, but don’t let the bar-less-ness of this venue fool you. There’s always plenty of bad stuff happening here, and good stuff, too. Honorable Mentions for Intermittent Venues The White Horse (6551 Telegraph Avenue) in North Oakland has been known to host some irregular but awesome local shows. With a giant dance floor and its reputation as an old-school gay bar, it’s an awesome place to get down under the disco ball. The Stork Club (2330 Telegraph Avenue) has hosted a variety of amazing events over the years. They currently cater to a more punk and metal crowd. Leo’s Music Club (5447 Telegraph Avenue) is a newcomer in the live music scene that is booking acts like Giraffage and The Cosmonauts. The newest of all the venues so far, Leo’s Music Club is still building a reputation as a go-to nightlife spot. Bar 355 (355 19th Street) has a stage that is mostly used for dancing, but every once in a while a band will perform. Cafe Van Kleef (1621 Telegraph Avenue) also has a stage, and bands who are friends with the owners often play. Expect jazz-y, blues-y, funky music. Era Art Bar (19 Grand Avenue) is mostly a dance club, but it has been known to host live music (as it did recently for Oakland Music Festival) as well. World music, rappers, the occasional open mic make the event list. Since reopening, The Golden Bull (412 14th Street) has begun to dip its toe into the live music scene. The Golden Bull can fill up quickly and generally hosts smaller, local events.

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