The following venues are my personal pick for music venues with with highs and lows from personal experience.
I was able to go to the Masonic for two different concerts and for both times I enjoyed the seating and experience I had there. in 2015 I attended a show where I was on the floor close to the stage, with multiple stairs to get up to the higher step leading to the main hallway to keep the floor traffic from being held up. The staff working there was great and helpful to get us to our seats when going back in 2016 for a show where I was sitting up in the balcony of the Masonic, having a great birds eye view of the crowd seated below me as well as the stage to watch the vocalists going up and down the aisles. Parking overall was great. There was a garage a block from the venue to park in as well as valet parking about two blocks away from the venue.
The Recency Ballroom
The Regency Ballroom is where I saw my first concert back in 2009, with a teenage girls favorite band, Nevershoutnever headlining the tour. Walking into the venue it wasn’t hard to get lost you only had four directions to go, 1. Drinks and merchandise 2. Main concert hall 3. Balcony 4. Bathrooms and coat check. While there was a bar in the hall, you could get yourself a drink while in the concert hall all the way in the back. Personally I preferred standing on the floor in front of the stage than heading up to the balcony because if you sit facing directly in front of the stage you would be too far in the back, but if you wanted to be close to the stage, you would be sitting in a weird angle. Parking was convenient having a hotel nearby to park to head in to the venue without walking far.
For a fun outside summer concert Shoreline Amphitheater was a great pick. I was there for multiple summers for the Vans Warped Tour and the space that was available for all the stages and bands that played in that one day was perfect. The main stages under the tent was a perfect place to cool off and recharge while watching a show. If I wanted to come back and sit on the green for the show, I would be able to see the show while enjoy some time interacting with friends. There are multiple food and drink stands to choose from and help with the line of people that come for food and drinks. Parking can be easy getting in with a crew to direct traffic and people to parking spaces, getting out is the real challenge.
What I like about this venue the most is that it is an intimate venue, without it being overwhelming. Right as you walk up the stairs the stage is to your left, the bar is in front of you, and exclusive dinner seating is to your right up the stairs. This venue is standing room only so seating is limited to non existent. If you easily get tired of standing you might luck out if a bench in the back becomes available to you. There was a coat check but you had to pass the tables of band merchandise to go downstairs and down the hall to get to the small closet they call coat check. And if you wanted to freshen up in the bathroom from there you had to climb the stairs, pass the crowd and tables to the back by the exclusive seating to the bathrooms. It was great to get close to the performing artist present that night, but it was very intimate and there was no such thing as personal space unless you watched from the back of the venue.
I found the Warfield to have a similar floor plan as the Masonic, a lower level floor near the steps, a higher level only a couple steps higher with a bar and waist high wall to lean against or to set your drinks, and a balcony above that level. It had plenty of seats in the balcony, but the time I was there to see a show, everyone wanted to be standing on the lower level making things crowded to actually enjoy the show. Tables for band merchandise were right outside the second level in the hall where the stairs are located to go up to the balcony and the exit.