Venue Profile – Rickshaw Stop, Fell St

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Although its name paints a picture of a quaint little space – somewhere between the Bay and Mumbai – the Rickshaw Stop on Fell Street is anything but little. It’s a sprawling, and pretty impressive, venue that spreads over 4,000 square feet, and is known for keeping a strong lineup of shows.

The interiors are pretty striking – all towering high ceilings and massive curtains (surely not velvet?) in deep red dropping down from above. True to its name, there are also a few vintage rickshaws that add a bit of warmth and coziness to this generously spaced venue, and somehow the south Asian vibe and the old-school 20’s West Coast opulence don’t cut against each other but fit perfectly, like fusion cuisine made out of lights and curtains and vaulted ceilings. Also included in the design is a mezzanine that spreads up to 1,000 square feet, making more room for big crowds, while the balcony has a set of couches for more comfortable seating, and offers clean, uninterrupted views of the stage.

Despite its size, the Rickshaw Stop still has the feel of quite an intimate venue, and it’s one of those spaces that feels right for hometown shows and the local music scene. In fact, several musicians from around the neighborhood have started off here before moving on to other bigger venues around the city and the country. As well as shows, the Rickshaw Stop is also home to some fabulous dance parties – special mention has to go to its popular Bhangra nights, where classic Punjabi rhythms meet hip-hop far into the night – a showcase for the modern Indian music scene, at the crossroads of tradition and the future, all shaken up together and poured into a stylish venue. What other city but San Francisco could have a place as true to itself – to all its selves – as this?

Aside from that, the Rickshaw Stop also has a lot of other things going for it. The ticket prices, in what feels like a miracle in today’s SF scene, are reasonably priced, with most shows costing between $10 and $20. Even the drinks at the bar are more reasonably priced than at most other venues in the area. The staff are friendly and helpful, and for those who need it, there’s also a smoking area upstairs, at the back. The best part is that the space is equipped with great acoustics and a fabulous audio system.

The Rickshaw Stop is designed in a way that allows even people all the way at the back to have a clear view of the stage. If you’re lucky enough to snag a seat right in the front, you can enjoy a view that’s quite up close and personal, but the sound at the back isn’t compromised at all.

Coming up at the Rickshaw Stop are shows from George Clanton, future-rock band Midi Matilda, Anika, and rockers Varona, followed by Afrobeat from Strike Iron. Take a look, and consider it – the shows are solid and the space is like nothing else you’ve seen.

An avid drummer whose discography 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 many 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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