The Independent’s facade is nondescript, but inside, pulsing rainbow lights and a standing-room-only space cultivate an energy that’s anything but ordinary. Known as “the Indy” to music-savvy locals, the venue boasts a state-of-the-art soundboard and a spectacular lighting system.
Since opening in 2004, the Indy has helped launch the likes of Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, and Foster the People. Artists like Beck, John Legend, the Arctic Monkeys, and Dave Chappelle have all taken the stage here, lending credit to the venue’s reputation for drawing acts accustomed to playing for larger crowds than the Indy’s 500-person capacity.
A diverse line-up proves the venue’s eponymous spirit is still going strong. You’ll find everyone from the Portland-based “junkbox blues” duo Hillstomp to the 22-year-old Norwegian music producer Kygo on the calendar. Scout tickets early for bigger acts like O.K. Go—they sell out fast. While the venue houses a full bar (all shows are 21 and over), grab dinner at one of the abundant local restaurants on the up-and-coming Divisadero corridor. Take your pick from Little Star Pizza, 4505 Meats Burgers & BBQ, La Urbana, and the illustrious Nopa, all within walking distance.