The most iconic venues of Los Angeles

Learn about L.A.’s music venues and figure out where to attend your next event.

By HANNAH CONTRERAS
Fans line up while eagerly awaiting a performance from Wallows at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall. The Shrine has hosted numerous well-known artists including Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix. (Kimberly Aguirre / Daily Trojan)

Los Angeles is one of the best cities in the world to see a concert. The city has a plethora of venues, ranging from small, intimate clubs to massive stadiums. Nearly every band under the sun has played in L.A., and for many, it is a great achievement to play in the City of Angels. But many people may attend concerts at these venues and not truly understand the history behind them.

Hollywood Bowl

One of the most iconic L.A. venues is the Hollywood Bowl. Built in 1922, the Bowl has hosted artists ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to The Beach Boys and Jimi Hendrix. boygenius is set to perform at the Bowl this Halloween, which is sure to draw many USC students to experience this historic venue for themselves. Attendees can picnic inside and outside the Bowl with the view of its classic concentric-arch silhouette, and there’s always restaurants from all over carrying everything from Jon & Vinny’s pizzas to Erewhon sandwiches.

The Bowl is a wonderful place to connect not only with the artist that’s performing, but the beautiful L.A. nature full of hills, trees and greenery that surrounds the venue. The history of the Bowl is interwoven with the history of the city. One memorable concert was Pink Floyd in 1972, where the band performed tracks from “The Dark Side of the Moon” months before it was released.

The Troubadour

However, many artists got their start in L.A. at much smaller venues. As chronicled in the 2019 biopic “Rocketman,” Elton John performed his debut United States show at the tiny Troubadour, a club on Sunset Boulevard that has hosted many great artists over the years. The club is very small, with a capacity of 500. On the night of John’s performance, he was introduced by Neil Diamond; David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Brian Wilson and Mike Love from The Beach Boys and Linda Ronstadt were all in attendance. Talk about pressure!

Many other artists have performed at the intimate club, with a wide variety of artists, like Joni Mitchell and Warrant, making their debuts. In recent years, it’s played host to both all-girl punk band The Linda Lindas and viral sensation Lizzy McAlpine, who brought out FINNEAS, Jacob Collier and John Mayer. Last semester, five lucky Trojans got the chance to play the iconic venue as part of the USC-student-led initiative, The 303.

The Shrine Auditorium
The Shrine is frequented by USC students due to its close proximity to the university. Most recently, players and fans of the hit multiplayer game VALORANT attended the 2023 VALORANT champions tour, a highly anticipated event in the esports community. (Kimberly Aguirre / Daily Trojan)

Hollywood Palladium

Once artists have made it at the Troubadour and other smaller clubs around L.A. like The Roxy, conveniently situated right near the Troubadour along Sunset Boulevard, they get to play bigger venues like the Hollywood Palladium. Built by iconic Southern California architect Gordon Kaufmann in the Streamline Moderne style, the 4,000-capacity Palladium is one of the most beautiful venues in L.A. It opened on Halloween night 1940 with Frank Sinatra and the Tommy Dorsey orchestra and has played host to many more iconic performers over the years.

USC’s own Trojan Marching Band even played the “Game of Thrones” theme song for a special event in 2016. It has that ’40s charm, as it was a hub for Big Band performances where people could dance the night away, especially during the war years. In the ’80s and ’90s, it became a hub for alternative rock band performances, with bands like the Ramones, The Clash and even Alice in Chains.

The Palladium eventually became a hub for violence because of punk rock and rap concerts, and it was closed for eight weeks in 1993 after more than seven people were stabbed or shot during events where tickets were sold out or oversold. It experienced some downturn before it was remodeled by Live Nation in 2007 and now upcoming acts include JPEGMAFIA and Danny Brown, King Krule and TV Girl.

Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall

If you don’t want to head over to Hollywood, you can enjoy world-class entertainment in USC’s own backyard at the Shrine. With a capacity of 6,300, it was home to the USC men’s basketball team for most of the 1940s. The design of the building was influenced by the Moorish history of the Mason fraternity, and the current facade was completed in 1926 after a fire in 1920 burned down the previous structure.

Bruce Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix have both played at the Shrine, and My Chemical Romance had its sold-out reunion show at the venue in 2019. However, the Shrine doesn’t just have musical performances. Most recently, Riot Games held the 2023 VALORANT Champions tour at the Shrine, where teams from all over the world competed to earn a spot in the finals. It was also home to the premiere of the world phenomenon “Barbie” in July this past summer.

As a USC student, there are many opportunities to see world-class entertainment in L.A. Most of these venues focus on up-and-coming artists, which makes them very special as their performances mark a new chapter for most of the artists who get to perform in places with so much history. As the semester begins and the new school year gets underway, make sure to make time to attend a show or two with friends both old and new.

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