If you’re not decided on how to spend this summer holiday, you should consider a trip to San Francisco Bay. This part of California is home to many attractions, including the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the adjacent Golden Gate Park and world-renowned wine-tasting tours. But make sure you dedicate enough time to explore Oakland on the east of the Bay.
This port city is known for the diversity of its architecture – from stunning skyscrapers to Victorian monuments. Oakland also has a name as a cultural beacon for the region, with a worldwide reach of cuisine and artistic influences.
Oakland has a rich musical heritage as the birthplace of some of the most celebrated musical talents. If you want to get a finger on the city’s musical pulse, embark on a tour of its indie music hideouts. Here are some of the places to look.
- Historical Venues
Oakland is replete with historical landmarks that you will want to pencil into your Bay itinerary. A jaunt through Old Oakland will take you into the city’s cultural cradle, where you will find Victorian architecture that harks back to the 19th century. But it’s not only the buildings that will give you a glimpse of Oakland’s fascinating past.
Old Oakland is host to some of the city’s most revered food joints. Here you will find a variety of cuisine reflective of the culinary heritage of the countries the inhabitants’ ancestors hailed from. You can savor the delights served by a selection of Mexican and Chinese restaurants or tuck into American classics in a friendly, homely atmosphere.
- Local Festivals
One of Oakland’s cultural crown jewels is the Paramount Theater. Besides being an integral part of The Town’s history (it was built almost a century ago), this multipurpose edifice hosts the Oakland East Bay Symphony and the Oakland Ballet. Even if orchestral music isn’t your thing, you will still want to visit as you can catch your favorite jazz, R&B or hip-hop group on stage.
You can check out Oakland’s indie scene at the Oakland Weekender in downtown Oakland. Be ready to rock out to at least five bands and one DJ every night from Friday through Sunday. You will be amazed at the amount of talent and the diversity of Oakland’s indie scene.
But you don’t have to wait for a festival to get acquainted with The Town’s indie stars. Venues like The New Parkway offer you a chance to listen to great music while rubbing shoulders with locals. You can also watch great bands on the cheap at pubs like The Starry Plough after a hearty meal at one of many reputable Jack London square restaurants.
- Record Stores
What better way to remember your Oakland indie pilgrimage than by collecting vinyl copies of the city’s finest indie bands’ works? At Amoeba Music, you will find a huge collection of music from any and every act you can think of in any physical format you want- cassette, CD or vinyl.
At Stranded Records, you can discover some great bands that have not made it mainstream. It is a haven for audiophiles who love to ferret out the new releases of underground indie artists or collect vintage works from the legends of yore. Vinyl hunters will want to check-in at Rasputin Music, where they can lose themselves in rows upon rows of albums of all genres.
- DIY Spaces and House Shows
Arguably the best way to interact with Oakland’s indie side is to attend an intimate gig at one of the DIY spaces or house shows this city is known for. Here you can enjoy live entertainment from an assortment of indie punk and rock bands within touching distance. And after the show, you can chop some of these artists up and find out what makes them tick.
Sugar Mountain Studios is just one of several venues in The Town you can live such an unforgettable experience. Before it closed its doors to the public, Ghost Town Gallery was Oakland’s other DIY music hotspot. To discover other such venues, you will have to interact with locals as they can be difficult for outsiders to find.
Past, Present, Future
Though it can be off the beaten path, Oakland’s indie scene is well worth taking the trouble to discover. It will not only be a chance to listen to or buy some great music, but it will also be an opportunity to connect with the city’s vast musical heritage. You will also get a glimpse of where Oakland’s musical future.