Great American Music Hall

Concert Venue / Live Music Venue / Restaurant
Great American Music Hall Arguably the fanciest den of prostitution in town when it was built in 1907, these days the building that houses the Great American Music Hall hosts performers who are (usually) fully clothed, and the patrons are paying just... San Francisco United States 37.785063 -122.418798
4.69 14
Great American Music Hall - Concert Venue | Live Music Venue | Restaurant in San Francisco.
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Ratings:
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Adriana
Jonah
Emma

Party Earth Review Arguably the fanciest den of prostitution in town when it was built in 1907, these days the building that houses the Great American Music Hall hosts performers who are (usually) fully clothed...and patrons are paying just... ... read full review

  • Hours:

    Show times vary, though doors usually open between 7 and 8pm on performance nights
    Box office M–F 10:30am–6pm and on night of show (often sold out)

  • Recommended as:

    • Night Spot

Great American Music Hall Schedule of Events

Aug07Thu
Great American Music Hall - Concert Venue | Live Music Venue | Restaurant in San Francisco.

Concert / Indie Pop

9:00 pm
Wild Cub, Grizfolk
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Great American Music Hall Videos

Buckethead - Live at The Great American Music Hall 2-25-06
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Buckethead - Live at The Great American Music Hall 2-25-06
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tUnE-yArDs - Gangsta [Live] @ Great American Music Hall
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film school @ the Great American Music Hall SF
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Forrest Day, Live at the Great American Music Hall
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BRMC "The Toll" @ Great American Music Hall 9-8-08
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The Church Reptile Great American Music Hall San Francisco Feb 4 2011
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The Matches-Drive (Great American Music Hall)
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Chopping Broccoli-Great American Music Hall 1984
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john butler trio - ocean live San Francisco 2/20/10 the great American music hall
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Party Earth Great American Music Hall Review

The Scene

Arguably the fanciest den of prostitution in town when it was built in 1907, these days the building that houses the Great American Music Hall hosts performers who are (usually) fully clothed, and the patrons are paying just...

Arguably the fanciest den of prostitution in town when it was built in 1907, these days the building that houses the Great American Music Hall hosts performers who are (usually) fully clothed...and patrons are paying just for the music.

Acts of every possible style have graced the low stage, from Duke Ellington in his heyday to OK Go in theirs, as well as non-musical acts like the Velvet Hammer Burlesque troupe – all of which attract a varied clientele of music lovers.

Stunning architecture sets the backdrop for any night, with giant marble columns and looming ornate chandeliers punctuating the main hall, where balconies rimming both sides of the open room are laden in frescoes that would not appear out of place in a Victorian mansion. The hardwood floors only add to the baroque aesthetic and could easily be lined with dining tables during an intimate recital or cleared for rowdy dancers to rush the stage.

To top it off, a full restaurant on site ensures audiences can satiate their appetites even after they’ve arrived, and a bar on each level makes it easy to grab a drink without missing a single aria, riff, or raucous drum solo.

With room for barely six hundred, Great American Music Hall is by no means the largest concert venue in San Francisco, but its combination of history, stunning design, and ever-changing lineup make it one helluva great place to catch a show.

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Tip from Jonah:

Sign up for Great American Music Hall’s newsletter. They give out free tickets to some amazing shows practically every week!

  • Crowd

    Depends on the act, though most nights see plenty of counterculture veterans and young hipsters. Ages six and over welcome at most shows.

  • Entertainment / Music

    Live bands representing a broad range of genres. Past performers include Ry Cooder, Steve Earle, Primus, Teenage Fanclub, Bush, and Buckethead. Occasional non-musical acts.

  • Food / Miscellaneous

    Menu of American pub grub including sandwiches and tri-tip available to all audience members; more upscale “preferred dinner menu” available to dinner ticket holders.

    Parking:

    Validated parking at Cathedral Hill Parking Garage (1101 Van Ness Avenue).

    Public parking on Van Ness Avenue between Post and Geary.

    Garage parking at AMC 1000 theater garage (1000 Van Ness Avenue) and Central Parking System (1150 Post Street).

    Limited street parking.

  • Prices

    Tickets usually $13–$30+. Small plates $4–$14, sandwiches $12–$13, entrées $15–$17, desserts $7–$9, dinner tickets $25/added to the price of the regular ticket. Beer $5–$7, wine $7–$11, cocktails $7–$12. Service fees $1–$6/ticket; no service fees for tickets bought day of show. Valet price varies and is not available for all shows, but usually $10–$16. Validated parking $5/four hours.

  • What to Wear / Dress Code

    Anything goes, but trends casual.

  • Hot Nights / When to Go

    Whenever a performer of interest takes the stage.

  • Close By

    For more music, The Warfield (982 Market Street) is a much larger concert hall that began as a vaudeville theater in the 1920s and is now one of the city’s stalwart rock venues.

Great American Music Hall User Reviews

Average rating:
Godspeed! You Black Emperor
Kate S. Sep 20, 2013
Went to a sold-out show here last week. Although it was sold-out, it wasn't too packed. We arrived as soon as the band got onstage and still were able to check our bags & coats as well as find a great place in the crowd. The architecture in this building is pretty impressive, there's rococo trim and columns, with art on the high ceilings. There's even seats upstairs on the balcony if you get drained from dancing. One of the biggest cons of this place is the bar, which is difficult to get to in a crowd like this one. Still, if you get a beer at the beginning of the show, you can sneak your way back up there sometime mid-show without too much hassle. I highly recommend checking this place out, especially if its a high energy band like Godspeed!
Great Venue for a Concert
Chloe S. Jun 18, 2013
Although I've only been to GAMH once, it definitely stands out as one of my favorite concert venues (and concert experiences). I've been following The Maine for about 5 years and have seen them in concert every summer since I started listening to their music. They've had shows at The Fillmore (also one of my favorite venues), Bottom of the Hill, Slim's, as well as other venues in Southern California. What is so great about the Great American Music Hall is that it allows for intimate performances. The only barricade between the stage and the band was a row of tables that the staff had moved. Because the venue is smaller and the show was nearly sold out, my group and I decided to stand on the balcony. Up there we noticed the ornate ceiling (which makes for great Instagram photos) and could see just how packed the venue was. At some point the front of the crowd all fell over and we were glad that we were on the balcony. The balcony also had seating and waiters to bring you moderately priced food; the plate of garlic fries was huge and definitely sharable. Our balcony spot was close enough to the stage that artists were throwing drumsticks, guitar picks, and set lists our way. We were able to dance with plenty of space, and really the best way to compliment a musician is to completely rock out to their songs. And standing up there did not ruin the listening experience for us at all!! Getting to GAMH was easy. The hall is only a 10 minute walk from the Civic Center BART station, which is the best way to get there. If a concert goes until 11 or 12 you can still walk to the BART station without worrying about missing your train (which has happened to me on a few occasions). Although the location is one of the upsides, it is also the only downside. The venue is in the Tenderloin so there are some surrounding areas where people ask for money or hit on you, however anywhere in SF will have people like that. I mean it wouldn't be SF without the occasional crazies, right? All in All I would definitely seeing your favorite band or any band here. You will no doubt have a great experience.
Puttin' on the Ritz
Lauren H. Apr 8, 2013
Intimacy of all kinds is inherent at Great American Music Hall. Small round tables set close together for acoustic shows encourage a more congenial sort of bonding with fellow concertgoers than densely-packed mosh pits. Attentive wait staff weave their way around offering fare from burgers to Brandy Alexanders to brûléed banana splits. Dim chandeliers make everything glow red. Ornately-carved paneling, velvet curtains, second-floor balconies, and mirrors tarnished with the barnacles of age assure you that you’d be just as comfortable in your cloche hat and flapper dress as you would in jeans and a sweater. Great American Music Hall is an establishment with more propriety than might be expected from its location in the Tenderloin, boasting headliners that attract the swallow-tail-and-spats-wearing crowd as well as the more rowdy ones. Shows like Sufjan Stevens and Imagine Dragons sell out in a flash; performers like Patrick Wolf remind guests that there was a time before electric guitars and synthesizers. With its Gatsby-esque feel and variety of performers, Great American Music Hall is a great venue for the nostalgic and the modern, the pumped-up and the laid-back, and the old and the new.
Used to be a brothel
jasmine b. Mar 30, 2013
GAMH is one of my favorite music venues in SF. It's the perfect size... not too big, but just perfectly intimate. The crowds are never overwhelming, at least never have been in my experience. The staff is friendly and accomodating. As an event photographer, this is important. I've photographed several bands here and I always feel like i have enough space to comfortably move around, despite having a large backback to maneuver thru crowds. The balcony floor is also lovely and a great way to view the show and see or shoot it from a different perspective. I've only had good times here, and hope to continue photographing events at this venue.
Best mid-size venue in town
Kirsty E. Feb 23, 2013
An oddly opulent setting in which to see a band, the Great American is a local institution. With great sight-lines and solid acoustics it's not hard to see why bands love playing here, but what really makes this place stand out is how beautiful it is. Elaborately detailed balconies line the walls, which gives the audience something to look at while waiting for the band to come on and creates an unusually civilized atmosphere that lends itself to call, friendly crowd behavior (you're unlikely to encounter a moshpit here). The main floor is small, but there's plenty of additional room upstairs, and the press/guest section that faces the stage (in front of the upstairs bar) is the best in the city. Food and drinks are nothing special, but better than you might expect at a concert venue. That's not what anyone is really there for, though - people come for the music, and regardless of genre this place always delivers.
Intimate Enough for Bands, Big Enough for Comfort
Jason C. Feb 22, 2013
I've always loved coming to this place. It's the perfect size for a venue. Not too big, not too small. And often it hosts artists that are on the up and up. Some shows you have to get tickets to as soon as they go on sale, but those concerts are often worth it. With an easy-going vibe that starts as soon as you walk in the door, the place is a haven for those who want to avoid other overly-aggressive music venues that turn the lights off and pack the dancefloor too tight. Firstly, the Great American Music Hall often doesn’t turn off the lights during a performance, which is a bit of a risky endeavor, but no one really seems to mind. It gives the shows a much more intimate feel, like you just got invited to a friends' place and your favorite band is playing. Their acts are heavily rock-focused, but that's not a bad thing. It might be a sign of age, but I don't really like going wild and jumping around in a venue as much. Here, the crowd is likely to oblige, content to sway and sing along most of the time. The two performances that come to mind are when I saw Dan Deacon and the Olivia Tremor Control. Dan Deacon's setup was his usual circuit board of craziness set in the middle of the crowd. From there he told the audience to do synchronized dances, make a human tunnel, do trust exercises as he played his frenetic electronic music. Contrasting that, the Olivia Tremor Control played a straight set, captivating the audience as their unique style of psychedelic pop wound itself around the venue’s extremes. While these performances themselves had nothing to do with the venue, the fact that GAMH worked perfectly for each setting is a testament to how the place can adapt to a performer’s preference, and the crowd never got too rowdy. It’s one of the best venues in the city, easily.
A diamond in the rough
Jessica G. Feb 21, 2013
Great American Music Hall is located in the heart of the Tenderloin, so you may have to dodge some obstacles along the way. However, GAMH is one of the few remaining all ages (6 and up) venues in San Francisco. As a once angst-ridden teenager, I still have a soft spot in my heart for all ages venues. But don't let the thought of celebrity-struck minors spoil your show, the crowd is typically 21 and up. This venue is breathtaking, complete with gold moldings and chandeliers -- you'd never guess it from its outer appearance. The size of the venue is Goldilocks approved, not too big and not too small. The upstairs section offers seating and often a better view if you're only 5 feet tall, like myself. Whichever level you decide view the show, the sound will be impeccable. I've seen an array of acts here, anything from jazz to ambient to metal. Great American Music Hall is the oldest nightclub in San Francisco for a reason.
A nice venue
Marla F. Feb 11, 2013
Another great place in SF to see a concert at. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside is a different story. Great architecture on the inside, and a nice space to enjoy some good music at. Have seen a lot of upcoming hip hop artists here.
The Greatest Music Hall
Jonathan H. Jan 17, 2013
One of SF’s venerable institutions. This venue is the prefect size to see a show; it’s big enough to attract some of the best bands and intimate enough to actually see them. I saw Tapes ‘n Tapes here about a hundred years ago (music years) and was wowed by the spot. Inside it’s an auditorium setting with spectacular chandeliers and ornate paneling, the bar is fully stocked and there is an option for a meal, dinner and a show, classy. Definitely my preferred spot to see a show in SF, just don’t let the beautiful interior distract from what’s happening on stage.
Traditional
Rachel G. Nov 21, 2012
This venue has probably the most gorgeous interior designs I have ever seen. I love how old skool the crown modeling is and the gold accents. This venue is however located in a pretty sketchy spot, so I wouldn't bring anything particularly special with you. But otherwise so worth the trek! the crowds vary from performance to performance, but you can be pretty darn sure that it will be a mix of unique hipsters and new wave kids. Another cool perk is that you can eat dinner here as well as enjoy some amazing live music! Totally a must see venue for music lovers alike!
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