Hidden amongst the skyscrapers of Downtown Los Angeles are some local, well-established gems that L.A. natives flock to in lieu of the hustle and bustle of the city. If you can navigate through all of the inconveniently placed one-way streets downtown, you’ll find venues large and small that have become famous pitstops for musicians of all genres. Our pick of the Best Venues of Downtown Los Angeles may seem a bit unlikely given the fact that we’ve ignored larger arenas, but this list is sure to pique the musical interests of tourists and locals alike.
Best Music Venues in Downtown Los Angeles
The Mayan Theater looks as exotic as its name suggest—ancient masks and designs are carved into the ceiling and walls surrounding the vast stage, making you question which century you’re in. Aside from the music, there’s also great wrestling matches put on in the venue’s Hill Street location. The Mayan Theater’s style belongs in the list of funky West Hollywood venues, but we can’t let them have all the fun, can we?
Built by the Al Malaikah Shriners back in 1906, the Shrine Auditorium has become one of the largest theaters in Southern California. It’s been the home of award ceremonies, televised events, ballets, theater, and of course, great live music performances. The indoor design and architecture is as captivating as the performance itself, and it’s not surprising to see people snapping photos of its interior as well as the stage. Just blocks away from USC’s campus, the Shrine’s roster finishing out the 2013 year is sure to delight any college kid’s music taste.
Even if you’re not a fan of classical genre, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is definitely an experience to be had at least once during a stay in the city. If the music doesn’t draw you in, maybe its unique architecture will—Architect Frank Gehry knew the acoustics of the venue were as important as the building’s visual appeal. It’s enhanced the performances of conductors and musicians alike, and being able to witness and hear pieces from favorites like the Los Angeles Philharmonic is truly a treat from the heart of the city.
It’s always nice to know about smaller venues in LA that might be overshadowed by bigger arenas like the Nokia Theater and the Staples Center. Just outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown is The Bootleg Bar & Theater. Walking in, you may feel as though you just entered a friend’s art studio (seemingly a work in progress with most of the walls boarded up) complete with a ping pong table to the left of the entrance and a dreamy photo booth as you find your way to the stage. It’s a great space to see musicians perform in an intimate setting, devoid of the screaming and constant flashing of cameras.
The Wiltern, cleverly named as the combination of its cross streets (Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue), has been a staple for up-and-coming and established artists when they make their stop in Los Angeles. With a balcony able to hold over 1,000 people and a main floor that accommodates 1,400, this elegant indoor venue has great acoustics, giving the audience a rare opportunity to hear their favorite band perform to their full potential. It’s famous Art Deco exterior is also something to admire while driving down the streets of Downtown LA.