Music has the ability to be used as a medium to tell any story like one of heartbreak, social injustice, wild nights, or space odysseys. While expressing these stories they can often inspire certain emotion as songs can reflect our being. This reflection is not limited to us as individuals, as music has the ability to reflect entire communities. Due to this powerful ability music can be a great tool for travelers and tourists who want to better understand the culture of the city. In this article, we explore different venues and locations that play the music and sounds that reflect the community of San Francisco/Bay area.
By Dyde Schleppi
1. Funk night at the Starry Plough Pub
3101 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
The Bay Area’s unique quality stems from its quality of political revolution and liberalism. The bay has always inspired progressive movements such as the beatniks and hippies: they dared to question societal norms. Today it attracts a startup culture and people who try to alter the way we live through technology. The city is always rebuilding upon itself, yet its history is never completely buried. The Starry Plough Pub’s Funk Night on Thursdays brilliantly reflects this. Inside you will be dancing to live funk music brought to you by featured local artists. The last time I went I was surrounded by students, tech geeks, old hippies with beards that seemed to be as old as they were, and hipsters. We all came together to dance under the Che Guevara flags that were waving from the ceiling. To get a taste of the revolutionary history of the Bay Area, going out of the way to The Starry Plough Pub’s funk night is well worth it.
Recommended Time to Visit: Thursdays 2 hours
1616 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94109
As a city of innovation, San Francisco offers many unique experiences. One of these is the Audium, an extraordinary experiment of sound and space. Before entering the father and son-operated theatre, guests anxiously wait in a small gallery that samples the genius and creativity of the composers. These samples allow the audience to be drawn in by the displays of different art, which use projectors and sounds. Once you finally walk into the auditorium, you enter complete darkness and are surrounded by 176 speakers. These speakers emit thousands of local sounds (from the Bart Train, birds, people mumbling, etc.) that move all around the audience creating ‘sound sculptures’ in the empty space and takes listeners on a distinct journey. If you want to explore San Francisco's innovation and creativity through sound, then the Audium is a must see!
Recommend Time to Go: Fridays and Saturdays at 8:30 PM 1 hour
3. The Saloon
1232 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
The people of the Bay Area are often referred to as ‘granola lovers’. For better or worse this name reflects how the Bay Area is often thought of as soft, but based on its history this seems unlikely. The city was founded on grit; it attracted people during the gold rush and then later became a haven for groups fighting against societal injustices, like the Black Panthers and the LGBQT+ community. The city was infamous for drug use, prostitutes, and for inspiring controversial ideas. This grit is not completely washed out, and going to the oldest tavern in San Francisco is a great place to see what once was. The bar offers live dance music (jazz and blues) and attracts a unique crowd of locals and misfits. If you want to escape the ‘granola lovers’ vibe for a raw music and bar experience, The Saloon is the place to go!
Price: Free Entrance; Cheap Drinks
Recommend Time to Go: Everyday 12 pm-1:30 am; Music starts at 4 pm
4. Bissap Baobab
SF Location: Bissap Baobab Village, 3372 19th Street, San Francisco, CA
Oakland Location: 381 15th Street, Oakland, CA
San Francisco is a lively city with a population that represents many different cultures and backgrounds. Obvious examples include the influences of Little Italy and Chinatown, but there are also more subtle changes brought by other countries and cultures. One of these include West African culture, and Bissap Baobab is a great place to experience its influence. The restaurant turns into a nightclub at night and hosts timba/salsa nights and international dance parties, which feature artists from West Africa. If you want to gain an understanding on how San Francisco embraces different cultures and people to make a diverse and lively city the Bissap Baobab is a must!
Price: Free Entrance
Recommend Time to Go: Wednesdays to Saturdays 5:30 pm -1:30 am
5. 1015 Folsom
1015 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103
If you want to get a taste of San Francisco's nightlife, the 1015 Folsom is the place to be! The club features 5 separate rooms that offer visitors a diverse range of music and scenery. These rooms include a vogue design featuring LED-lit waterfall walls, wide open dance floors, and intimate lounges. There seems to be no limit to what artists you can find in the five rooms, from popular salsa bands to bass-heavy EDM and underground rap. With the sleek interior and diversity of music, the club attracts many different people to its packed dance floors.
Price: Free entrance all though it does depend on who is playing
Recommend Time to Go: Fridays and Saturdays 10pm-3am