San Francisco is a city that has been known for its music scene for decades now. All throughout the region, from the Hayes Valley Apartments rising at 450 Hayes St. to the Golden Gate Bridge and Treasure Island, The Bay Area is home to some of the most vibrant, diverse and unique venues in the country. There are the smaller punk, trance and jungle clubs, the dance-centric medium-sized venues, the huge and renowned outdoor music festivals -as well as their smaller, outdoor cousins- and a few incredible historical gems within the mix. At when it comes to music history, when it comes to venues that have grown to become entities unto themselves, none are more acclaimed or as well-known as The Fillmore.
As a venue itself The Fillmore has a capacity of 1,200 and is mostly standing room. The space is -for the most part- no frills, but it has a sense of history to it that is so vivid and ever-present. The sense of connection with the past you feel as you walk through those doors can only be built and forged over years and years – it cannot be bought or reinterpreted. The sound is phenomenal, and acoustically, the room seems as if it was built for a rock show specifically. The blaring guitars bounce around the space as the drums reverberate through your chest. There is a level of intimacy at The Fillmore that performers have loved for decades upon decades. It’s not a small venue, but it’s not huge either and its simple layout ensures that the energy of the performance is felt and reciprocated by all in attendance.
The Fillmore opened its doors in 1912, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s when the venue came into its own and cemented its iconic status. 1966 was a huge year for The Fillmore largely due to The Velvet Underground and Nico playing a -now legendary- show which included visual multimedia accompaniment by Andy Warhol. This performance cemented The Fillmore’s status as a venue that was not afraid to be experiential and innovative in how they presented performances. The rest of the decade plus saw the Fillmore host Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, Miles Davis, Otis Redding, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Cream, Aretha Franklin, The Who, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santana and countless, countless others. For over half a century The Fillmore has been known for indulging the creative impulses of all the artists who grace their stage. The venue itself played a large role in the rise of psychedelic music in the 60’s, allowing and changing to accommodate various forms of visual accompaniment as well as experimental sound technologies. In the 60’s The Grateful Dead pretty much has a residency at The Fillmore, playing over 50 shows there in a five year period.
Today The Fillmore still functions in the same way it always has. The venue still attracts huge, global acts due to its history and its worth as a performance space itself. If you’re in the Bay Area, a visit to this historic musical institution is a must. Experiencing a concert here is a truly unique and invigorating experience.