San Francisco Does Not Rock

Bummer, songkick did an analysis of rock shows per capita (that means per-person, you know) and San Francisco isn’t even on the chart. What’s the problem? This is a major city that is full of awesome bands.

I can tell just from observation that there is not as much as a music-going culture here. I can throw out a couple of my theories:

  1. New venues being shut down by neighbors before they have a chance
  2. A lack of all-ages underground shows
  3. Poor accessibility
  4. People aren’t bored enough

What’s your theory?

[via Dangerous Minds]

Author: Vic Wong

I own a sword. I like to write. I am a software engineer for I am a gypsy jazz guitarist.

20 thoughts on “San Francisco Does Not Rock”

  1. high rents = high door prices=more selective about what shows you see(= more snobbish?)?
    hardly any ‘middle-class’ live in SF proper = less disposable income=see the east bay?


    It’d be kinda cool to see a census breakdown of the cities ranked on that list to compare their population numbers and income levels for the 15-35 age rage.

    1. Being a college town probably makes a difference (Austin & Madison), along with being a major destination for tourists looking to party (New Orleans & Las Vegas).

      The rest of the list probably reflects more of a lack of nightlife options than an increased tendency to want to hear live music. A lot of those places are isolated in that their suburbs don’t offer many partying options, while the east bay and peninsula here have plenty of things to do without even having to trek into the city. I wonder if their statistics only counted SF itself or if they included the entire bay area?

    1. Yeah, but:

      San Francisco estimated 2009 population: 815,358

      Austin: 786,386
      Madison: 235,626
      New orleans: 354,850
      Las Vegas: 567,641
      Denver: 610,345
      Milwaukee: 605,014

      We’re not really that far off.

      1. Milwaukee is the only one with a major city near by to compete for suburban (or tourist) show goers with (chicago is an hour and a half away). If you live in the east bay or the paninsula you can choose to go to Oakland/ Berkley/ San Jose instead of SF. Some bands just play one city. A more interesting study would be shows per capita per metro-region.

      2. Yeah, but I always wonder what these surveys and lists and whatnot count as San Francisco. I mean, you and I know what SF proper is and that less than a million people live within her borders, but to most people, San Francisco is the entire Bay Area, which would give “San Francisco” a population of 4 million or so.

        Austin and Madison, I’m not really surprised by given that both are big college towns and Austin has SXSW. Must admit, Denver surprises. Vegas is obviously skewed.

        San Francisco has more than its fair share of live music. I just don’t think people here HAVE to see any particular show. If it’s convenient and cheap enough, I’ll probably stop in. Otherwise, my precious few dollars will buy me a pizza pie instead.

      3. I’ve always said that it was a wash moving here from Austin when it comes to the music scene. If you live in Austin, SXSW sucks. The attraction of having a wristband fades when you realize it’s way too crowded to successfully hop from venue to venue. ACL is nice, and it was great to go to tapings of the show in college, but there’s still plenty to sate my appetite in S.F. Great American is better than any venue I can think of in Austin, with Stubbs being the closest.

  2. “There’s only one way, there’s only one way to rock!”

    And it’s not in San Francisco, apparently. Although IMO it also doesn’t involve Sammy Hagar.

  3. Yeah, I definitely do not feel that there is any dearth of live music in SF. We have a lot of venues, and most of them are active most nights.

  4. what? san francisco accurately reflects the fact that rock music is dead?


    just being playful, but in all sincerity, my calendar is always packed with interesting new shit, it’s just not always rock. and i’m okay with that!

  5. If #s 2 or 4 are your concern you should consider spending more time in Oakland. Hardly any good bars + people generally younger & a lot broker than their SF counterparts = lots of pretty good DIY house / generator shows which are almost always “suggested-donation” based. Lots of good touring bands play free house shows in Oakland before or after playing $10 – $15 shows at venues in SF.

  6. I mentioned that SF blows for live music in a recent thread and the reaction was cognitive dissonance and denial. Some of you have no frame of reference and instead choose to believe that the explanation is some sort of statistical anomaly regarding metropolitan areas.
    Guess what, the live music scene blows. How could anyone not know that? Look at how many clubs have closed down here since the late 90s. Look how many musician practice spaces have closed down. If you had a frame of reference you’d realize that. In the early 2000s, several old time national acts came through the city and commented on how tepid and lame the crowd seemed, how it wasn’t like the SF they used to know.
    The dotcom era clear cut the live music scene, and the new class of man-purse carrying hipsters who have colonized the Mission is the pitch that was smeared onto the exposed limbs to make sure it never grows again.
    In all honesty:
    -many people probably don’t even know what live music is anymore, thinking it’s a deejay putting his ipod on shuffle and plugging it into the house PA.
    -even in the good old days of the early 90s when SF was a musician’s town, the scene was never that great and certainly not even close to the national top five, or even top ten. That comes as a blow to SFers who naturally believe the city rules in everything cool.

    1. Huh, you can keep saying that, but it isn’t going to make it true. I find at least a couple of shows every week to go to, and quite often more than one that appeal to me on the same night. Tough Decisions To Be Made.

      Now, judging from your comment about practice spaces, it could be that you are arguing that SF is a bad city to base a band in. That could be the case. However, San Francisco is a GREAT city to SEE live music in. To argue otherwise is just weirdly delusional.

  7. I have lived here 38 years and there has always been a scene of one kind or another. That being said I am mostly into metal and punk and have never had a problem getting my fill of live music at a decent price. FUCK HIPSTERS!!!!

  8. Uhm. This is a fucking lie. San Francisco gets everyone that las vegas does and some. Living in Vegas was shit..I mean yeah maybe they get more Bon Jovi/Kings of Leon shows than we do but this is such lies.

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