Concert Venues Abound in SD

The Observatory North Park provides an intimate atmosphere for concertgoers.
Tayler Reviere Verninas/The USD Vista

From big to small, San Diego’s musical venues have it all

San Diego has much to offer as a city, and its concert venues are no exception. From the House of Blues to the Mattress Firm Amphitheater, San Diego provides a rich range of places to experience a performance. 

The House of Blues, located in the Gaslamp Quarter neighborhood of Downtown San Diego, is a mid-sized venue that holds 1,500 people. The House of Blues is a series of venues, featuring establishments in many major U.S. cities in addition to San Diego. 

The venues are known for their roots in blues, gospel, and rock & roll music, but host artists of all kinds.  The House of Blues features multiple levels of seating as well as a restaurant and bar.

Senior Marissa Millender said her favorite place in San Diego to see a show is the House of Blues. 

“I saw The Neighborhood and Bad Suns at the House of Blues and I really liked it,” Millender said. “The venue really made the concert a lot better because the House of Blues is spacious and it’s just a cool building. It has a restaurant in it and is in the middle of downtown, so that really added to it for me.” 

Another popular venue in San Diego is The Observatory North Park, a smaller venue that has hosted hip-hop and rap shows with artists such as Post Malone, Rae Sremmurd, Khalid, Mura Masa, and A$AP Rocky, in addition to artists of all genres.

The venue, constructed within an old theater, features an ornate interior, including   vaulted ceilings and curtains from the venue’s original configuration. Senior Rich Atnip enjoyed his concert experience at The Observatory. 

 “The Observatory gets great names of every genre and still provides a fairly intimate atmosphere,” Atnip said. 

Atnip is also a fan of the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Amphitheater, a 4,000+ seat venue on the San Diego State University campus. The amphitheater, constructed in the 1930s, hosts artists of all genres, ranging from rapper Lil Wayne to rock band Young the Giant.

“I really enjoy it because even though it’s outside, it is rather small and not too pricey for the names they get there,” Atnip said. “I saw The 1975 there and it blew me away.”

One of the largest and most historic venues in San Diego is the Valley View Casino Center, formerly known as the San Diego Sports Arena. Built in the late 1960s, it holds 16,100 people and has hosted many large concerts over the years, including The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, U2, and more recently, Justin Bieber. Senior Bri Maldonado recently saw Flume perform there. 

“Flume is an amazing artist and his performance as a whole was incredible,” Maldonado said. “The stage setup was beautiful, and the great acoustics and lights definitely added to the show’s vibe.” 

The largest dedicated music venue in the San Diego area is the Mattress Firm Amphitheater, formerly known as the Sleep Train Amphitheater. Located in Chula Vista, the 20,500 seat open-air venue features traditional seating as well as lawn seating, and has often played top-tier artists such as Future, Green Day, Imagine Dragons, and Sam Hunt. The venue has various food and beverage options. 

Senior Blakeney Fairey saw Sam Hunt at the Mattress Firm Amphitheater this past summer and shared her experience. 

“He was great live, but I wish he would’ve played for longer,” Fairey said. “He just had so many good songs I wanted to see. The venue is nice, we got to tailgate a little and the lawn is nice because you can just bring a blanket and post up. Food and drinks were way too expensive though.”

As the fall concert season begins, USD Toreros will have plenty of options to see their favorite artists and bands perform.  

Anderson Haigler | Arts and Culture Editor | The USD Vista