Where To Find Free (And Pretty Cheap) Music in Los Angeles
Now that the rain appears to have stopped for at least a week, we are sure you are all itching to get out and go do something in the city.
Well, if you are looking for some options, it is our opinion that there’s nothing quite like a night out to hear some live music.
Music is good for the brain, and dancing and communing at concerts with kindred fans, friends and strangers alike is a feeling like no other. It’s one of those things that can instantly make you present and in-the-moment, and in our hyper- distracted, tech-overdosed culture, nights like these are perhaps needed more than ever (and something we all undoubtedly appreciate a bit extra post-pandemic shutdowns).
Live music doesn't have to be a rare, expensive treat
Luckily, L.A. is the worldwide epicenter of music, where you can catch a big-label band of virtually every music genre play almost any night of the week.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’d give it an 11,” Ron Berman, a guitar player, told us at his recent gig at Industry Cafe and Jazz in Culver City.
But for a lot of these shows, admission is steep — like $60 to $200 a pop or more (not to mention those extra Ticketmaster fees), which makes a concert more of a rare treat rather than a regular, accessible way for us to unwind.
The good news is that you don’t need big bands and a seat at Sofi Stadium to have a good time. There are a lot of places around L.A. where you can catch free (or pretty cheap) live music. For suggestions on where to go to enjoy some jams of all varieties — without breaking the bank — we got you covered.
For more than three decades, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art has offered free concerts by L.A.’s top jazz legends every Friday evening in LACMA’s welcome plaza (just behind the famous Urban Light installation). This starts up next month. Check calendar for listings. Patrons are encouraged to bring food and picnic!
- Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036, United States
- Hours: Friday evenings starting at 6 p.m. from April to November. Look for Latin Jazz on Saturday in the summer as well.
Since 1998, The Smell has been a DIY punk art and music space. It’s volunteer-run, alcohol free and all ages: “It’s one of the only venues in L.A. that actually is in an alleyway,” said Shaydon, a 20-year-old artist and vendor who sells shirts, prints and silk-screens at The Smell. “It’s kind of like a rite of passage if you went to high school in L.A.”
- Address: 247 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Shows at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. throughout the week. Check website for calendar. Admission for most shows is $5.
The Venice West
“We have every genre here: country, hip-hop, heavy metal, punk,” said AJ Graves, head of security at The Venice West. “It's a neighborhood bar, it's a live music venue for independent bands. We're selling out every Friday and Saturday night. Everybody’s stoked about this place.”
- Address: 1717 Lincoln Blvd,. Venice, CA 90291
- Hours: Tuesday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to midnight; Friday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. to midnight.
- Live music every night except Monday. You can also enjoy music on weekends for brunch. Check the calendar.
- Tickets average about $15, and range from free to $30 to bigger names.
Recently reopened after shuttering its doors at the start of the pandemic, this intimate live music venue and traditional-American restaurant features shows for all ages several nights a week.
- Address: 142 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254
- Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
- Check website for show calendar. Tickets typically $10-$25.
Another iconic L.A. museum brings us not just visual art, but live concerts for free. There are regular performances on different days of the week, including the monthly Sounds of L.A. series. Concerts are at both The Getty Center in the museum courtyard and The Getty Villa in the auditorium.
- Address: The Getty Center – 1200 Getty Center Drive in Brentwood; The Getty Villa — 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades, Malibu, CA
- Check performances calendar for dates and to purchase tickets.
- There may be a fee for parking.
The Knitting Factory Noho
Hollywood’s long-loved music venue which closed in 2009 — The Knitting Factory — has reopened on the second floor of The Federal Bar in North Hollywood. It’s an intimate, 300-person capacity space with low-lighting and a revamped, American pub-style menu. Most shows are around $15.
- Address: 5303 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
- Hours: Sunday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m.
- Shows several nights a week at 8 p.m., check website for calendar.
Industry Cafe & Jazz
Industry Cafe & Jazz is a restaurant and lounge, serving traditional Ethiopian cuisine set to live jazz music.
“The first time I was able to get back together with musicians and play music, I cried,” said Sean Stackpool, a saxophone player who recently played at the restaurant. “ That's my favorite thing on the planet to do, is to play music with other musicians. It means everything.”
- Address: 6039 Washington Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232
- Hours: Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
- Jazz sets at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. most nights. Call (310) 202-6633 or check website for music schedule.
MakeOutMusic showcases up-and-coming artists in Boyle Heights. Shows range from free to about $20. You’ll need to put in a little sleuthing to find the spot (you’ll get an address after you nab a ticket online) but the intimate space curated by Geoff, Lucas, and Tim is well-worth the mystery.
- Locations TBA, Boyle Heights (address sent upon reservation)
- Check website for calendar and to purchase/reserve tickets.
Bookstore and a show — literally. True to their name, Sideshow Books opens up a side-space out back (and sometimes in front) for free shows. Tony, the owner, says the idea formed around a crew of musicians who loved playing together. Starting in April and through the summer, you can join pedestrians — and stopped cars on La Cienega — for hours-long sidewalk concerts.
- Address: 1639 La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90035
- Bookstore hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- Check website for more information.
Donald Trump was a fading TV presence when the WGA strike put a dent in network schedules.
Pickets are being held outside at movie and TV studios across the city
For some critics, this feels less like a momentous departure and more like a footnote.
Disneyland's famous "Fantasmic!" show came to a sudden end when its 45-foot animatronic dragon — Maleficent — burst into flames.
Leads Ali Wong and Steven Yeun issue a joint statement along with show creator Lee Sung Jin.
Every two years, Desert X presents site-specific outdoor installations throughout the Coachella Valley. Two Los Angeles artists have new work on display.