Sacramento is home to a rich arts community featuring both city natives and musicians transplanted from the bay area, Los Angeles and beyond. On any given evening, there are multiple live music performances happening all across the greater Sacramento region. Downtown is the heartbeat of the arts scene, where you will find plenty of music clubs and performance halls. If you're not sure where to go for some great live entertainment, here are Sacramento's best live music venues.
1417 R St.
Ace of Spades is considered one of the best live music destinations in the city. This all-ages venue features a variety of music, including indie rock and rap. Enjoy a show while having a cocktail in one of the four bars, or order a full dinner in their family-friendly area. They proudly showcase local artists, including the annual Heavy Fest Local Music Showcase each spring. Best of all, Ace of Spades features free street parking after 6 pm.
1400 Alhambra Blvd
Blue Lamp is considered to be one of the best live music venues in Sacramento. Infamous for booking original bands outside of their obligatory national tour stops, past underground concerts have included big industry bands like Cake. It’s all about the music here without a bad spot in the house and a wide selection of affordable drinks. Go on a Wednesday evening to indulge your own rock star dreams—audience members are encouraged to jam with the house band.
10th St. & S St.
Old Ironsides is located at the intersection of 10th and S Streets and features both local and touring bands. This family-run business’ testament to success is found in the fact they’ve been rocking since 1934. It received the first Sacramento liquor license issued after prohibition and features old-time traditions like homemade lunches on weekday afternoons. Their prices also hint at a love of the vintage with plenty of free shows and others capping at only $5.
2708 J St.
This hip post-modern supper club serves a fusion of Mediterranean and California cuisine in its restaurant area. After dinner, journey downstairs for live music and dancing. Depending upon the night, you may encounter swing, reggae or R&B. For additionally impressive ambiance, head upstairs to the newly renovated MoMo Lounge. This area features an outdoor patio with a 30-foot projection wall and full bar. Harlow’s is home to multiple party rooms with leather couches and exclusive VIP areas that come with bottle service and a personal hostess.
1409 R St. #101
Shady Lady is a premier urban Speakeasy saloon with a 1920s throwback atmosphere. With a live music stage and U-shaped bar, you can sip a cocktail made with house-made ingredients. Order some Southern-inspired dishes while checking out the local variety of jazz, blues, country, and reggae. Live acts perform 9 pm-midnight, seven days per week. Shady Lady also hosts many touring original bands. Some sections are reserved for the dinner hour, so grab a seat in the patio area if you just want to enjoy the music.
1375 Garden Hwy
Crawdad’s River Cantina draws patrons out of downtown and onto the water. Featuring outdoor patio dining and live music, you can order a Mardi Gras-style cocktail at this venue that floats right on the Sacramento River. There is never a cover charge, and they host various theme nights regularly announced on their Facebook page. Past bands to perform on the outdoor stage include The Cheeseballs, Wonder Bread 5 and Pop Fiction. This place is also big on celebrating holidays: Expect to see all-day Mariachi bands and a nighttime Santana Tribute on Cinco De Mayo, or book a reservation for a family-friendly Easter Day brunch and concert.