Rediscovering Downtown Oakland: Where to Hear Music & Dance

4 Feb

The Fox Theater opens tomorrow night, but the first few shows are sold. Not to worry – there are several places in downtown Oakland where you can hear live music and get your groove on.

The Uptown – Telegraph between 19th & 20th

The Uptown is my favorite East Bay venue to watch live music in a somewhat intimate setting. The set up is perfect. Walk in, sit down at the long bar and grab a drink. You’ll hear the band playing, but it’s quiet enough have a conversation. When you’re ready to dance, walk into the next room, where you’ll find a large dance floor. Need some air? Step out back and sit at one of the tables for a while.

No matter what kind of music you’re into, you’ll find something at the Uptown in the coming months – rock, hip hop, jazz, country and everything in between. Though they book high quality talent, the shows are cheap, from no cover to $10. And every first Friday of the month, they have a free show. This Friday, the blogoakshpere’s own Max Allstadt will be playing so head over after the Art Murmur to check it out.

CafeVan Kleef – Telegraph between 15th & 17th

We all know of Cafe Van Kleef as the place that makes the best greyhounds (though I can’t speak from experience, as I don’t like grapefruit juice), but at night it often turns into a packed music venue. Just like the Uptown, Van Kleef hosts all sorts of musical artists. I’ve seen a female vocalist playing acoustic guitar to a calm audience sitting in their seats, and I’ve seen bands that inspire everyone to get up and dance. When it gets too crowded, which it often does, step outside onto the front patio. Unfortunately, you won’t find much fresh air there, as that’s where the smokers congregate, but you’ll likely find some very interesting people and get into random conversations. Oh, and if you haven’t been to Van Cleef yet (is that possible?), get ready for sensory overload. The walls are covered in all sorts of random objects – words can’t really explain it – you need to see it for yourself.

Oasis – 12th between Madison & Oak

Oasis is a place I don’t go to very often, but I absolutely love the venue. The reason I don’t go there much? Well, they almost exclusively have reggae and dancehall parties there, and that’s just not my thing. The venue itself is worth checking out though, at least once. There’s a small indoor space with a bar that’s always packed, but what Oasis is known for is its huge outdoor area. The DJ is set up outside and there’s tons of room to dance. There’s also a side area outdoors with chairs and couches and plenty of room to hang out. Unfortunately, they don’t appear to have a website anymore so you’ll have to do a bit of searching to find out who’s playing there, but I think most of the shows are pretty cheap.

There are lots of other music venues downtown that I just haven’t made it to yet. Let me know if I’ve left out any of your favorites.

One Response to “Rediscovering Downtown Oakland: Where to Hear Music & Dance”

  1. das88 February 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    I also occasionally enjoy the Stork Club.

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