Under the right circumstances, a few hours of live music can change a person: the 16-year-old indie punk who plunges into the all-ages DIY scene around the Smell. The record executives are waiting at a bar table in the Hotel Cafe for a young singer named Billie Eilish. Obsessed devotees gather at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for an evening among the tombstones with Lana Del Rey.
Until COVID-19 put concerts on hiatus in 2020, most didn’t need to be reminded of the transcendent nature of live music. We took for granted the plethora of stages available on any given evening, both in soundproofed rooms and, made possible by a perfectly suitable climate, in outdoor amphitheatres. Their enforced absence left a gaping hole in LA culture.
Fortunately, most survived. These 55 locations include old theaters, spacious clubs, mainstays of the Sunset Strip, historic institutions, and duct tape dive sites. Combined, it’s a patchwork of venues that gives fans of virtually every genre of music the chance to interact, sing, and dance with like-minded fans.