Tag Archives: The Uptown

Oakland’s summer fun starts this weekend

5 Jun

In my weekly events listing, I mentioned a few events happening this weekend, but there were a few I couldn’t fit and even more I heard of since writing that list. So if you’re looking to get out and enjoy Oakland this weekend, you’re in luck because there’s tuns of fun stuff happening.

Arts: Tonight is the art murmur, and it should be a great night to check out some of the more popular galleries since it’s likely to be rainy or gloomy. On warmer nights, the art murmur is sometimes a bit too crowded, which is fun, but it’s difficult to appreciate the art in that setting. If you’re too tired to make it out tonight, you can enjoy art all day on Saturday and Sunday at East Bay Open Studios throughout the East Bay. And for a preview of other art events this month, head to Oakbook.

Music: Oakland’s Damon and the Heathens will playing not one, but two shows this weekend to celebrate the release of their first album. Tonight, you can check out this horn-focused band at Eli’s Mile High Club and tomorrow you can see them at the Uptown nightclub.

Festivals: I wrote about these in detail in my weekly events listing, but just a reminder to head to West Oakland tomorrow for West Oakland’s Green Scene and come down to North Oakland on Sunday for the Temescal Street Fair.

If you can’t make it out this weekend, don’t worry, there’s plenty coming up throughout June and the rest of the summer that I’ll be writing about soon. Now if only it would heat up a bit so it will really feel like summer.

UPDATE: V Smoothe also recommends seeing Damon and the Heathens and writes about the reasons to visit downtown on Saturday night instead of Friday. And dto510 gives a few more suggestions. I guess Oakland bloggers are all fixated on having fun this weekend (either that, or we’re just too tired of writing about the depressing budget situation).

A magical night in downtown Oakland

9 Feb

Friday night in downtown Oakland was a bit magical for me.

For several years now, I’ve been in love with downtown Oakland. I love the varied historic and modern architecture. I love that though there are tons of people around, it feels like a small town because I can’t help but run into people I know and even the restaurant and store employees say hello to me on the street. I love the restaurants and I love the nightlife.

Yet there was always something that bothered me about downtown Oakland – most people just didn’t seem to get how great the DTO is. I’d practically have to beg friends to meet me downtown for a drink after work. And forget dinner downtown – even many of my friends who work in the DTO never stuck around past dark.

Slowly, I’ve noticed a change in attitudes towards downtown, but on Friday night, the DTO finally felt like it was reaching its potential.

There were people everywhere! From 14th Street all the way down past the Art Murmur on 23rd, there were thousands of people on the street and inside art galleries, music venues, bars, and restaurants. People on foot, people on bike, and people in cars. At many points, I witnessed gridlock on the streets, something I’ve never seen downtown at night.

And they were there for good reason. The Fox, though I’ve yet to go inside, is radiant, and the detailed restoration I could see from outside just made me want to see more. The dueling marquees of the Fox and the Paramount lit up Uptown, and the spotlights on top of the Fox could be seen from anywhere downtown and beyond. Even for those without a lot of money to burn, there was plenty to do for free.

There were dozens of people inside and outside of Awaken Cafe, enjoying music and paintings that celebrate downtown Oakland. The center of the Art Murmur, at 23rd and Telegraph, was jam packed. At one point, it was nearly impossible to move inside Johansson Projects because there was an a cappella group singing. No problem for me – that just cut down on the taco truck line so I could grab a bite to eat.

As the Art Murmur dwindled down, many headed to the Uptown to catch a free night of music. Though it wasn’t overly crowded, there was always a wait to get a drink, and the energy was high. I sat for a while near the front door and watched the rain fall, illuminated by a lamppost on the sidewalk outside. I sat back and smiled and I think a few tears welled up in my eyes. This was downtown as I always saw it – vibrant, fun, and sometimes unpredictable – but now this was the downtown so many others were experiencing, and I knew they would return.

Fatefully, I left the Uptown just as the show at the Fox was getting out. There were so many people on the sidewalks that it was difficult to walk for a couple of blocks. People were wandering about, many of them looking for something to eat, though there was no food to be had at that hour. So most of us ended up in the bars nearby. I tried to go to Radio, but it was packed like I’ve never seen it before. Forget finding a seat – you would have been lucky to find a wall to lean on.

There’s still more to be done to improve downtown Oakland. As dto510 mentioned last week, the City needs to complete its sidewalk improvements in Uptown. We need more restaurants, especially some that stay open past 10pm. And we need to encourage public transit usage, biking, and walking so that there isn’t so much congestion on the streets on busy nights.

But even without these improvements, downtown Oakland is finally the place to be. And that makes me so happy that at least for one night, I was able to forget about Oakland’s troubles and enjoy what this incredible city has to offer.

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.