The Regency Ballroom is one of San Francisco’s oldest, finest, and most sought-after venues for watching live music in s San Francisco, has a rich history going back more than a century, to 1909, since its original foundation as a Masonic lodge in the Scottish Rite. Over those years, as the city has grown wider and higher around it, the Regency Ballroom has witnessed some iconic performances: Isabella Rossellini, Gil Scott-Heron, and a tribute to David Bowie featuring, among others, acclaimed actor Gary Oldman.
The Regency Ballroom, One of the Finest San Francisco Music Venues
Visually, the Regency Ballroom is stunning. A compact, medium-sized space, the interior is one of the finest examples of Scottish Rite architecture, flaunting its blonde hardwood floors with a quiet and humble confidence, and taking your breath away with its horseshoe-shaped balcony and sweeping view of the stage. Twenty-two chandeliers hang from a thirty-foot high ceiling, and the whole space is a riot of all the faces and identities San Francisco has had in the last hundred years.
San Francisco Music Venue Rich in History
It’s also particularly rich in symbolism; because one thing the secretive Masons haven’t covered up is their love for multi-layered, complex imagery. Though the Masons have moved on, you’ll still find that the building is stamped with what they left behind: on the walls you’ll find an icon that represents the sun, a maned lion’s head, and even a double-headed phoenix; a fitting image for a building constructed in the aftermath of the earthquake of 1906. That’s one of the characteristic features of the Regency Ballroom – it can come to mean different things to different people. It’s a remarkably rich mirror for the city.
But the best history is part of a living legacy, and sweet lights and interesting decor don’t mean anything if the songs aren’t there. The acoustics of the Regency are something really special: it’s a venue made not for money but for impact, and the quality of the sound is one of those perfect marriages between the space and the speakers. There’s a purity of sound that you don’t get in a lot of venues as if the walls are standing aside to let you bathe in the music. And beyond the music, there’s a real commitment to making beautiful music happen in a sustainable way; The Regency is part of a network of venues working to find new ways of making live music in San Francisco environmentally-friendly.
Upcoming Shows at The Regency Ballroom
Knowing San Francisco’s love for offbeat venues and live musical performances, it’s no wonder that the Regency Ballroom is almost always booked for shows. Right now, the Ballroom has some great events lined up for December: a show from hip-hop up-and-comer Syd on the 29th of November, followed by performances in December from Say Anything, heavy metal heavyweights Trivium, go-the-distance punk from Alkaline Trio, and the unforgettable, probably-never-pronounced-on-radio Strfkr, as well as neon EDM from Don Diablo.
The collision of history and legacy, cutting-edge music, and depth of sound, gives the Regency Ballroom a special place on tours and in the hearts of performers from around the world; it’s a reminder that people have been finding a new world here in San Francisco for a long time, and that’s not going to change.
Check out our San Francisco music calendar for all shows coming up in the city.
Photo courtesy of Louis Raphael