I remember sitting in the back of the 1 bus, riding down Telegraph to my first ever show at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Dressed in a totally impractical outfit, watching the little dot on my iPhone venture down Telegraph Avenue to make sure that we didn’t miss our stop, I felt jittery with the excitement of heading into Oakland at night with a group of girls that I barely knew. Going to concerts should be an essential part of any first semester at Cal. It lets you explore new territory, make new friends, and most importantly, appreciate the benefits of living in a cultural hub.
Aside from the musical palace that is the Fox, there are also a multitude of smaller venues in Oakland that offer endless opportunities to discover local musical gems. Closer to home, there is our very own open-air venue the Greek Theater, which also offers unofficial nosebleed seats on the hill above the amphitheater for free. And if you’re willing to traverse the bay, San Francisco has many of your favorite artists just waiting for you to watch them in venues like the Warfield, the Great American Music Hall and countless others.
Lucky for the freshest batch of Berkeley newbies, this semester has a jaw dropping lineup of incredible concerts to offer: Yeasayer, Beirut, The Hives, Silversun Pickups, Animal Collective, Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Crystal Castles; the list of bands coming to the Fox alone is almost overwhelmingly great. At the Greek, we’ve got Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Gotye, Wilco, and Bob Dylan himself coming right up.
Before you get too excited and start buying tickets on your iPhone, there are a few things about concert-going that I wish I had known as a freshman. One is that it is worth venturing to the box office to buy tickets. Soon, the money that you save in service charges will be buying you more tickets, and you can always get dim sum brunch in Oakland’s Chinatown to make the trip worth it. Next, don’t wait for your friends to buy tickets — they will sell out. You’re not in Kansas anymore, those things go quick. Lastly, take advantage of free events. The campus entertainment group SUPERB does, well, a superb job with their free noon concerts. The band is always good, so go even if you’ve never heard of them. In fact, go even if you have class.
And also, go to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park. No matter how much you think you hate country music, you’re horizons will be broadening a lot, so you might as well start there. If nothing else does it first, a massive, free, musical party in the middle of the San Francisco will make you fall in love with living in the bay.
Sarah Burke is the Fall 2012 arts editor.