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Teenagers’ Concert Venue Guide: Southern California

- Cristina

Summer is in full swing, and you know what that means: triple-digit temperatures, lazy days at the beach, copious amounts of ice cream, and concerts and music festivals. Most people are out of school and many artists are doing summer tours, making this season the perfect time to catch the concert you’ve been waiting for. Regular concert-goers and music lovers know that a memorable experience depends not only on the artist but on the venue in which the concert is held. After all, how can you enjoy your favorite band if you’re up in the nosebleeds, in some corner of some massive stadium with a malfunctioning sound system? The perfect concert starts with the perfect venue, and this guide will help you find one that’s right for you.

Of course, southern California has hundreds of concert venues—from tiny hole-in-the-wall clubs to state-of-the-art stadiums and theaters—and there is no way I could review all of them. However, I have narrowed them down to a handful of the area’s more popular and accessible concert venues in the hopes that, whether you have traveled across the country following your favorite band or simply want to check out what So Cal has to offer for music lovers, you will get your money’s worth and have a meaningful concert experience.

Nothing says "summer" like an outdoor music festival.

I went to my first concert when I was 14 at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood, and it remains one of my favorite concert memories to date. If you are looking for an intimate experience where you can get up close and personal with the artist and enjoy their music in a unique way, the Roxy may be just what you’re looking for. This club has become somewhat of a Hollywood icon, but it remains a strong supporter of up-and-coming artists and local events, like the Farmers’ Market on the Sunset Strip, making it great for more than just concerts.

The Roxy offers an authentic taste of the Hollywood music scene

If you’re interested in the Roxy, you might also enjoy the House of Blues, located both in Anaheim and Hollywood. While not quite as small as the Roxy, the HOB offers a similarly intimate concert experience and represents some of the best of what Southern California has to offer (where music is concerned, anyway).

If you are planning on going to a huge concert, then obviously a small, intimate club isn’t going to make the cut. Not to worry—there are plenty of convention centers and stadiums in California fit for any event.

Of course, I can’t talk about large venues without mentioning the famous Staples Center in Los Angeles, perhaps best known for hosting Lakers games. This convention center has the facilities to host virtually any event, but I have reason to believe that it is better equipped for sports games than it is for music events.  I went there four years ago for the American Idol tour (yes, I did watch the first nine seasons of American Idol—it’s not something I’m proud of), and I couldn’t fully enjoy myself because my seat was so far back that each singer was about the size of a thumbnail, and the sound quality from that distance was less than great. I’m sure the people in the floor seats had a fantastic experience, but for the rest of us, it was apparent that you have to pay more (a lot more) for a satisfying result. My recommendation is that if your favorite artist is performing at the Staples Center and the best tickets you can get leave you stranded in the farthest reaches of the stadium, you might want to wait until they play somewhere slightly smaller or with a higher quality sound system in order to get your money’s worth and have the best concert possible. If you decide to forego the Staples Center but still want a larger venue, the Forum in Inglewood and the Honda Center in Anaheim are certainly worth checking out.

Many of today's most popular artists have graced the Honda Center stage.


If you can't quite commit to a huge venue, the Grove of Anaheim may be the perfect fit for you.

Finally, for those of you who—for whatever reason—like being under the stars or sun during a concert, Southern California offers outdoor venues for every taste. Perhaps the most popular in this category, however, is the Hollywood Bowl. This outdoor venue can accommodate an enormous crowd and no matter how far you are from the stage, you can get a good view of the show thanks to huge monitors on both sides of the stage. I was fortunate enough to see Maroon 5 at the Hollywood Bowl last summer, and even though I had cheaper seats, I never missed a note (or a shot of Adam Levine, hubba hubba) during the concert.

The Hollywood Bowl

As I said before, there is a myriad of concert venues in California, and I have only covered a small fraction of them here. Still, I hope that those of you who travel far and wide in search of a concert moment that lasts a lifetime will find this mini guide at least somewhat useful.

Where was your favorite concert held? 




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