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Metro’s 2017 Guide to DJs, Karaoke & Live Bands

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Even PacMan can bring new life to BackBar Sofa. Photo by Greg Ramar.

Even PacMan can bring new life to BackBar Sofa. Photo by Greg Ramar.

Bellying up to the bar or huddling around a pitcher during the game are great ways to enjoy a cold beverage. But sometimes the night calls for something more lively. There are plenty of great watering holes that specialize in live entertainment, DJs and karaoke in Silicon Valley. Here are just a few of the local bars and clubs where rock stars rock out, selectors spin and aspiring rock stars give it their best shot.

7 Bamboo
162 Jackson St, San Jose
408.279.9937 | 7bamboolounge.com
They take karaoke seriously at 7 Bamboo. On busy nights, open mic fiends line up in long queues for a chance to bust out their best Bowie or Beyoncé. It’s always worth the wait. With an elevated stage, legit lights and a supportive crowd, this Japantown bar brings out the inner rock star in everyone.

81
81 W Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.294.6666 | eightyonesj.com
San Jose’s newest nightclub replaces a bikini bar and takes its name from the address of the historic Building and Loan Association landmark at 81 W. Santa Clara St. The 81 boasts a spacious dance floor, a second-story lounge and Caribbean nights every Friday.

BackBar SoFa
418 S Market St, San Jose
209.242.9621
One of San Jose’s most flexible live music venues, there’s almost always something popping off at BackBar. On a given night, patrons might catch a set from a local stoner metal band in one room, bounce along to a touring hip-hop crew in another and enjoy a cool brew in the warm summer air on the patio.

Blue Note Lounge
765 E Capitol Ave, Milpitas
408.262.8363
A neighborhood gem tucked inside a strip mall by a pizza joint, the Blue Note serves up jazz on Sunday, blues on Tuesday, karaoke on Thursday and a jukebox to groove to the rest of the week.

Britannia Arms
4027 Almaden Expy, San Jose
408.266.0550 | britanniaarms.com
173 W Santa Clara St, San Jose
408.278.1400 | britanniaarms.com
For those who enjoy a side of karaoke with their burger and beer, and prefer to watch the big game on mute while taking in a DJ set, The Brit is the place to go. Rock the mic every Wednesday during karaoke night, and cut a rug to live DJs every Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Cafe Stritch
374 S First St, San Jose
408.260.6161 | cafestritch.com
The crew at Cafe Stritch has a clear understanding of the fundamentals. The bar, restaurant and live music venue kicks off every week with the Wax Wednesday alternative party, brings in top-notch jazz talent for the rest of the week and sweetens the deal with great pub eats, a choice selection of beer and tasty cocktails.

Cardiff
260 E Campbell Ave, Campbell
408.374.7477 | thecardifflounge.com
If Don Draper were reincarnated as a house DJ, he’d have a weekly residency here. This downtown Campbell bar’s mid-century modern aesthetic, satisfying drink selection and bass-heavy sound system keep patrons moving in style.

Opal
251 Castro St, Mountain View
650.318.6732 | opalnightclub.com
For those looking to pop some bottles after securing that venture funding, this Mountain View club is the spot.

Pioneer Saloon
2925 Woodside Rd, Woodside
651.851.8487 | pioneer-saloon.com
Back when the foothills along the Peninsula were mostly populated by lumberjacks, the town now known as Woodside went by a different name—Whiskey Hill. One can almost hear the cries of “timber” when sipping bourbon in this historic building, which regularly hosts live blues acts.

Poor House Bistro
91 S Autumn St, San Jose
408.292.5837 | poorhousebistro.com
Silicon Valley has a thriving blues scene, and this Louisiana-style pub books some of the best players around. San Jose’s rising harmonica virtuoso Aki Kumar performs here regularly.

Pure
146 S Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale
408.732.2121 | purenightclub408.com
We don’t see nothing wrong with a little bit of bump and grind. Neither does Pure Lounge, which regularly hosts talented EDM and hip-hop DJs.

Red Stag
1711 W San Carlos St, San Jose
480.292.6777 | facebook.com/TheRedStag
There are fancier karaoke bars in the South Bay, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one as fun as the Red Stag. Polished pros and drunk caterwaulers alike get a fair shake here.

The Caravan
98 Almaden Ave, San Jose
408.995.6220 | caravanloungesanjose.com
One of San Jose’s oldest live music venues, the Caravan also plays host to DJs, trivia tournaments, comedy open mics, burlesque and karaoke.

The Cats
17533 Santa Cruz Hwy, Los Gatos
408.354.4020 | thecatslosgatos.com
Since its inception as a weigh station for horse-drawn wagons, the Cats Roadhouse has gone through several reincarnations. From speakeasy and bordello in the 1920s, the Los Gatos landmark played host to a realty office and gun shop over the next few decades before becoming a tavern, which it remains to this day.

The Continental
349 S First St, San Jose
408.982.3461 | thecontinentalbar.com/updates
This stylish SoFA District watering hole hits the sweet spot between an ultra lounge and a craft cocktail bar. With great local and touring DJs spinning regularly, it’s a place where dancing is appreciated and chilling is always allowed.

Lencat performs at Pioneer Saloon in Woodside. Photo by Greg Ramar.

Lencat performs at Pioneer Saloon in Woodside. Photo by Greg Ramar.

The Ritz
400 S First St, San Jose
theritzsanjose.com
It’s dark, it’s a little dank and it’s loud. Essentially it’s a rock & roll club. With two bars, a large main hall and a stage, The Ritz is the place to catch some of the best alternative acts rolling through San Jose.

VBar Hotel Valencia
355 Santana Row, San Jose
408.551.0010 | hotelvalencia-santanarow.com/vbar.htm
Seated on top of Santana Row, Vbar gives a dangerously naughty red room vibe. The black leather seats and red bar lighting are perfect for a scotch and heels affair.

Woodhams Sports Lounge
4475 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara
408.244.2899
A gritty little dive that lures in a steady stream of regulars with strong drinks, cheap darts, weekly comedy open mics and Tuesday night karaoke.

The X-Bar
20990 Homestead Rd, Cupertino
408.255.5700 | homesteadbowl.com/x-bar/
Hardcore bowlers and hardcore kids will find common ground at The X-Bar, located within Homestead Bowl. Patrons can grab a beer, get their Lebowski on and catch one of the many screamo and metal shows Pin Up Productions hosts in the bar.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Cinebar
69 E San Fernando St, San Jose
408.320.2689 | facebook.com/cinebarsj
Most of Metro’s staff have missed a meeting—or five—on account of putting down one too many Hamm’s at this San Jose institution.

Mosaic
211 S First St, San Jose
408.282.8888 | mosaicdowntown.com
This hotel bar has live jazz music every Friday night and a huge outdoor patio that includes two bocce courts, but it’s the first-class service that keeps regulars mingling with tourists.

Patty’s Inn
102 S Montgomery St, San Jose
408.998.4566 | facebook.com/Pattys-Inn-168099749197
Across the street from Diridon Station and just a short jaunt from SAP, Patty’s is the place we turn whenever we’re early for our train, waiting for the puck to drop or don’t really care about whoever is opening up for Black Sabbath.

Rookies Sports Lodge
99 S First St, San Jose
408.292.4300 Rookieslodge.com
1535 Meridian Ave #10, San Jose
408.445.2121 | Rookieslodge.com
The homey sports bar in Willow Glen expanded its operations to downtown and added some oomph by installing a state-of-the-art video and sound system that features 30-plus flat-screen TVs.

Trials
265 N First St, San Jose
trialspub.com | 408.947.0497
Think living through the 24-hour news cycle is bad? Imagine if it were your job to write the news. Thank the druidic gods for Trials—a place with no TVs (hence, no CNN), plenty of board games, greasy pub fare and a great selection of English beer.

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