Southern California is full of glamorous and charming concert venues. From Riverside County to Los Angeles County, there is a setting for every music lover. Determining a venue’s ranking comes upon a multitude of factors: acoustics, parking, a perspective from a short person, seating and the atmosphere. Before buying tickets to your next concert, take a look at the list below.
Best Large Venue: The Kia Forum
Located in Inglewood, the Forum is one of the gems of California. It outshines its sister venue across the street, SoFi Stadium, in advanced parking for nearly half its price. What is special about the Forum is its seats and sound. No seat in the Forum is a bad seat, unlike most large venues. Its phenomenal sound is what makes this venue stand out from the rest. A unique surround sound fills the spot with bass. If you are an EDM lover, this spot is worth a visit.
Best Mid-Sized Venue: The Observatory, Santa Ana
The Observatory is versatile with its dual spaces. For small and intimate shows, the Observatory’s Constellation Room is an enchanting experience. For short audiences, the main room has a tier system that does not interrupt the pit. Overall, the ambiance of this venue is incredible and bound to serve a good experience.
Best Tiny Venue: The Smell
In the heart of Downtown Los Angeles is The Smell. The Smell is home to small and local talent. The space is rich in culture and most concerts are $5. While having no dedicated parking, it is forgivable due to the low cost of tickets. Whether you know the performer or not, a trip to The Smell is always one worth remembering.
Local Charm: Riverside Municipal Auditorium
The Riverside Municipal Auditorium is gorgeous and only a ten-minute drive from UC Riverside. The lighting within this venue is stunning, paired alongside a unique interior design. With a large floor design and balcony seats extending close to the stage, an excellent view is guaranteed at every corner of the Riverside Municipal Auditorium.
Dishonorable Mention: The Wiltern
It may be controversial to claim the art-deco styled venue is poorly designed, but it is the truth. The Wiltern is the definition of a “catfish.” The setting is alluring in its grand interior, but its layout is an abomination. The Wiltern’s floor is divided into tiers with large walls and small entrances. This design choice makes it impossible to enter and exit the floor, leaving attendees struggling to dance, mosh or let alone move. Even from the back of the floor, the balcony blocks the view of the stage set.
Honorable Mention: The Hollywood Palladium
The Hollywood Palladium sits along Sunset Boulevard, adding to the vintage sites along the street. The Palladium’s internal and external beauty is beyond charming. From the great chandeliers to the mood-setting lighting, the atmosphere is always perfect at the Palladium. Its half-circle design makes up general admission seats enjoyable for short audiences, due to its wide view of the performance. Balcony seats are also worth every penny. The sound at this spot fills the venue and is truly music to your ears. The only downside to the Hollywood Palladium is its lack of parking. Surrounding parking garages are the only way to attend a concert at the Palladium.
Best Overall: The Hollywood Bowl
Upon the trees of the Hollywood Hills is a venue with great history. This outdoor venue holds a lot of musical importance to Southern California and is a must-see for any music lover. The sound from the shell does not echo, even with its outdoor presence. The Bowl has also built a culture of picnicking. It is encouraged to bring dinner or buy a picnic set from its store. There are also designated patches where you can eat and watch the show. Parking can be a nightmare at the Bowl, but using the parking shuttles is a simple and easy way to avoid the stack-parking mess. The Hollywood Bowl is a true Southern Californian experience.