Santa Barbara Bowl
Oftentimes, the Bowl is a stop between Los Angeles and San Francisco for high-profile acts such as classic indie group The Flaming Lips, or even rapper Travis Scott. It’s a beautiful, open-air space, without the complications of a big-city stadium venue.
The place that brought you every A24 film star during SBIFF week as well as renowned artists like James Blake, the Arlington Theatre is as exceptional in terms of venue quality as in the coveted acts it books. The mesmerizing decor of the theater sinks you into the streets of a Spaniard town. Despite the fairly large size of the venue, it truly allows you to experience an intimate setting with your favorite artists.
Located on State Street, away from the shops and restaurants, is the classically beautiful Granada Theatre. The Granada usually hosts classical music events, lectures from famous authors and world music concerts from UCSB Arts & Lectures.
Velvet Jones offers close proximity to your favorite rappers and some of the best post-show mac and cheese. If you are an avid rap consumer, the place you are bound to find yourself amidst a mosh pit is Velvet Jones. The pro tip I’d give before going to a Velvet Jones gig is bring five dollars in cash if you are under 21. Other than that, you will probably have some of the best times of your life at this 350-person-capacity venue.
SOhO is a trendy venue that caters more toward a 21-plus crowd, as it offers a full bar with a seating area. SOhO and its in-house concert production company, We The Beat, have been recently collaborating to bring even more musicians to Santa Barbara. For example, Toro y Moi will be taking the SOhO stage this November.
The Lobero is one of my favorite lesser-known venues in Santa Barbara. One of the best shows I’ve ever covered was from the understated, classic rock-influenced Dawes. The steep steps lead to a charming, mid-sized concert space with comfy seats and a welcoming ambiance. Nestled in between office buildings on downtown Santa Barbara side streets, the Lobero was the perfect venue to showcase a night of rock and roll.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to our Isla Vista home, the Biko co-op house is a great spot to catch punk shows and open mic nights. And for lovers of spoken word, there’s even poetry. Biko is an orange house, named after South African activist Stephen Bantu Biko, located on the 66 block of Sueno. The house’s no-substance shows are held in the spacious garage, where Isla Vista residents crowd in for loaded lineups of local music.