Ace of Spades is still relatively new to Sacramento, but is already 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.
2. Blue Lamp
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This clean, well-designed venue is self-described as an “urban oasis.” They open at 3 pm Tues-Sat, which allows it to double as an after-work pub and nightclub that features live bands both touring and local. One of the few in the region to offer live band karaoke each week, Marilyn’s has great acoustics and a notoriously laid-back clientele. They participate in the popular K Street event, Fishnet Fridays, where women are admitted for free if they arrive in the sexy stockings.