Top 5 Hole-in-the-wall Show Spots in Los Angeles

Portia Medina/ The Bull


There is no shortage of entertaining activities on any given night in the Los Angeles area. Live music serves as the glue that holds this city of angels together and keeps the air thick with electric energy. Aside from so many of the larger venues in the city to go see a good show, there are several more intimate settings where you can take in some live tunes. If you are looking for a more personal experience with music where you may even share a beer with some of your favorite musicians after the show, you should check out these five spots in LA.


The Smell:

This DIY all ages alcohol free spot is located on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles between 3rd and 4th Street. Bands usually book themselves here and they come from down under and around the corner to play at The Smell. All events are all ages and all shows are $5 unless otherwise noted on the website. Tickets are only available at the door the night of the show to avoid the possibility of service charges and scalpers.  The long narrow brick walls are covered with scattered local artist paintings. The Smell has been supporting community art and music projects since it’s opening in 1998. Everything at the venue is volunteer run from the vegan snack bar to the sound engineering services.

247 South Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

(213) 625-4325


Mr. T’s Bowl:

The 1940’s bowling alley turned rock bar serves the L.A. area as one of the most popular underground venues since the early 90’s. The main entrance, which is the back door, leads into the eight unused bowling lanes that create the backdrop for the bar and stage. The shows at Mr. T’s Bowl range from punk rock to hip hop and more including a barrage of burlesque shows. When Joseph “Mr. T” Teresa bought the bowling alley in 1966 he decided that live big-band music and home-style buffets would become staples at this Highland Park establishment. Little did he know that the future of the bowling alley would be placed in the capable hands of the L.A. music scene. Many new artists have been introduced to the world via Mr. T’s Bowl.

5621 1/2 Figueroa, Highland Park, CA 90042



The Redwood Bar & Grill:

Wooden boat steering wheels, skulls and crossbones and knotted ropes line the pirate themed Redwood Bar & Grill. The narrow bar is always packed to the gills with beautiful young hipsters from the downtown L.A. art scene. Old wooden barrels have been fashioned into tables for the seating areas where you can enjoy the gastro pub fare. A long, fully stocked bar leads to the back where the postage stamp stage is set up for all kinds of acts. Funk, soul, salsa and garage rock have all seen the inside of The Redwood Bar & Grill. It’s a great place to grab drinks and a bite to eat with your friends while you catch a few good local bands. Don’t forget to bring your ID, it’s 21 and up. Check out the calendar and the website for upcoming events.

316 W. 2nd St. Los Angeles, ?CA. 90012




At Bardot it feels almost like the band is playing a private show in your living room. Crimson walls surround the lush vintage style couches and armchairs scattered throughout the club. As soon as you make your way up the staircase to the club that sits atop Avalon, you are transcended to another place in time. There isn’t a stage persay, but a rug set up with some mic stands. In the center room where the bands play there are sliding canopies that open up to the night’s sky and allow for a smoking area that doesn’t feels cozy.  Chris Douridas of KCRW, MFG, and Valida present School Night every Monday at Bardot and it’s free if you RSVP at There are multiple other events with varying cover charges held weekly with musical guests as well as DJ’s at this posh little 21 and up escape.

1737 Vine Street, Hollywood CA

323 462 1307



The Silverlake Lounge:

On the border of dive bar and hipster hangout is where you will find The Silverlake Lounge on Sunset Boulevard. The dimly lit bar has an area set up in the back that is like a stage, although there is no stage. The bands that play are standing face to face with the audience and playing their little hearts out just for you. Bar stools and benches line the walls, but once the show starts everyone piles into the back of the bar. The cover charge for shows is usually $5 or $10 dollars and it’s 21 and up. You may wind up seeing the bands that play here in rolling stone before you know it. Bring a friend and stay a while. They also have a Latin drag show Friday through Sunday at 11:15 p.m. and 12:15 a.m. with a special early show Sunday at 9p.m.

2906 Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026