Juliette Lewis - The Independent - San Francisco

San Francisco Music Venue Profile: The Independent

in Music News by

Nobody in San Francisco has anything bad to say about The Independent, and when a venue is in everybody’s good books, you know it must be doing something right. And for a venue as young as this one (having only just hit its 10th birthday), The Independent has produced over 2500 shows spanning across a huge number of acts from the world of art and music and sold over a million tickets in the past decade.

If you weren’t in the one million, here are a few reasons why the Independent is yet another great San Francisco venue.

The Independent, being primarily a music venue, boasts crisp and detailed audio and lighting systems, filling the small, cozy space with sound. The space is laid out in a smart way to give everyone – seated and standing – a good view of the stage, allowing shows to feel intimate but powerful, and letting artists connect powerfully with their audience.

That sound system bears dwelling on; it’s something really special, a triumph of technology for the senses. You can feel the sound shaking you to the very bones, letting you feel every beat. It’s a great feeling, to be one with the music, and The Independent offers you that experience.

The last decade has seen artists from an incredible range of genres grace the stage at the Independent; performances have ranged from rock and hip-hop to comedy, classical, and EDM, and practically everything in between; it’s a special venue that doesn’t feel like a walled-off enclave, only for the cool kids of one particular subculture; The Independent has room for everyone, and it shows. Over the years the venue has opened its arms to embrace local as well as international musicians, regardless of whether they’re starting out or whether they’ve made it big. For lovers of musical heritage, the venue has witnessed shows from Levon Helm – drummer of The Band, the only group to be equal to Bob Dylan on stage – 80’s synth legends Erasure, Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead, Jamaican ska and reggae trailblazer Jimmy Cliff, Gregg Allman, and Dr. John.

A dizzying number of huge acts from today have started out at The Independent, or played their on their ay up – from world-art-pop indie darlings Vampire Weekend, to the sythn boundary-pushing of LCD Soundsystem, to the irreplaceable, inimitable Bon Iver, through the sheer power of M.I.A. and the broad soundscapes of The xx, to Rodrigo y Gabriela, Pretty Lights and The National; The Independent’s vibe of serious sound with a laid-back, intimate environment has been a perfect springboard for countless acts.

The Independent has a long tradition of supporting Bay Area bands too – artists like Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers, Thee Oh Sees, Tycho, Lyrics Born, Sean Hayes, Geographer, Tea Leaf Green, The Devil Makes Three, ALO, Zion-I, The Stone Foxes, Brett Dennen, Rogue Wave, The Dodos, and Ty Segall have all played The Independent.

It’s a special place, where music is given its place at the heart of a community; whether the city around it, or the magical connection that comes when artists have a place to connect with their audience and create a community of music and experience for one night only. Definitely place it on your list.

With a discography that includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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