After more than a year of hibernation, the City’s independent music venues have begun to stir.

Every modern metropolis boasts corporate concert venues for mega-touring acts, but it’s the neighborhood indie venues that set San Francisco apart. And while booms and busts are nothing new in this cool gray city of love, during the citywide lockdown, clubs were among the first businesses to close — and now, some of the last to reopen. Yet rent, mortgage, payroll, utilities, insurance and tax bills kept rolling in, compounding the pain for the small clubs that were already struggling prepandemic.


The Sylvia Cuenca Quartet, featuring Andrew Speight, Matt Clark, Essiet Okon Essiet and Sylvia Cuenca, perform amid rows of books for a livestreamed show at Bird & Beckett Books & Records.


Musicians Bill Dennehy, Jack Gilder and Autumn Rhodes (pictured left to right) share a laugh while waiting for the return of live music to the Plough and Stars, where they regularly play in traditional music seisiúns.


The quiet of Myron Mu’s empty bar, the Saloon, is broken by a friendly hello from Janet Clyde, co-owner of Vesuvio Cafe, another venerable North Beach establishment.


n arrangement of tiles and signage in front of the entrance to the Tenderloin’s Black Cat, combined with the photographer’s ambient shadow, add to the club’s urban old-school noir vibe.


Bottom of the Hill, a Potrero Hill institution since 1991, has showcased countless acts before they graduated to stadiums, including Green Day and Alanis Morissette.


The Lion’s Den is the first dedicated performance venue to open in Chinatown in 40 years, and features lush decor by designer Anna Lee Jew.