Goin’ where Chico goes
A handy guide to Chico’s must-visit entertainment destinations
Chico definitely has a reputation for both its nightlife and its music, but to get the most out of what this active town offers, don’t stick to just one hangout. Each bar, cafà, theater, hall and promoter has something different planned, so open up a little and go out a lot! Check in on the calendar section of the News & Review each week for all the details.
Big Room at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
The world-famous brewery is also a concert venue. Watch for live blues and folk-rock in the Taproom and Restaurant and an eclectic mix of world-renowned musical talent, from Tommy Emmanuel to Southern Culture on the Skids, two to three times a month in the state of the art, 350-seat Big Room upstairs. 1075 E. 20th St., 345-2739 www.sierranevadabrewery.com.
The first link you need to add to your favorites if you want your underground-music needs satisfied.
Chico State venues
The campus offers several places to catch a band, or even a symphony, to liven up your evening. The Bell Memorial Union Auditorium frequently hosts touring bands (Maroon 5, Death Cab for Cutie, Peter Tosh), as well as comedy acts and other events, thanks to the student-run A.S. Presents, which also takes to the Rose Garden and Free Speech Area for free outdoor punk, rock, reggae and hip-hop shows. Laxson Auditorium hosts the excellent North State Symphony and other community events, as well as world-class musical and theatrical acts (David Byrne, Gillian Welch) from around the globe, thanks to the most prestigious promoter in town, Chico Performances. And two venues in the Performing Arts Center, the Ruth Rowland-Taylor Recital Hall and the Harlen Adams Theatre, feature the best musical and theatrical performances by students and professors from the School of the Arts. Call University Box Office at 898-6333 for listings.
There are wide range of performances by mostly local artists nearly every night of the week at Chico’s cafàs. Moxie’s (128 Broadway, 345-0601) has the biggest events of the bunch, with acoustic music, rock shows, poetry bi-weekly poetry slams and open mic nights. Cafà Flo (365 E. Sixth St., 892-0356) and Has Beans (501 Main St., 894-3033) have fare similar to Moxie’s, while Bidwell Perk (664 E. First Ave., 899-1500), The Naked Lounge (118 W. Second St., 895-0676) Bellachino’s (800 Bruce Road, 892-2244) are more suited to chilling, with occasional acoustic and jazz performances.
Crazy Horse Saloon
A large bar specializing in country music. There’s occasional live music and even a mechanical bull to ride (after you sign some legal paperwork). Dancing every night of the week. 21-over. 303 Main St. (upstairs), 342-7299.
Reminiscent of the great, grungy Mission District dives in S.F., with old jukebox music and its odd medley of wall decorations, which include long-forgotten movie posters, strange Oriental paintings and at least one depiction of the Last Supper. Occasional live bands (Jonathan Richman is a regular) that take over the slightly elevated stage area in one corner usually attract audience members of all styles and ages over 21. Faves the Pub Scouts play Celtic music for the Friday afternoon (4-7) happy hour. 21-over. 337 Main, 343-7718.
Wondering where all the hip kids have gone? Head up Broadway to the tiny record shop that hosts all the newest and hottest touring underground hip-hop, indie and punk acts as well as all the local kid crews. Great mix of locals and students. All-ages and always cheap. 530 Broadway. 342-8290.
The cozy bar across from the Annie’s Glen section of Bidwell Park, with pub grub menu and occasional free, live music on its cool, shady patio. 21-over. 392 Vallombrosa Ave, 895-9922.
Featuring two stages, one next to the dance floor in the main area of the bar and one on the outside patio, under the trees. This is a decidedly college-focused club, with dance music coming from the main stage via cover bands, touring rock bands and local metal favorites such as Red With Envy, who play regularly. Also featured are regular D.J. dance nights. 21-over. 229 Broadway, 893-1891.
Smack in the middle of a strip of downtown bars, features occasional live local rock and cover bands and a clientele that roughly matches the rough-looking crowd streaming in and out of the tattoo shop next door. 21-over. 319 Main, 893-0930.
North Valley Productions
North Valley Productions honcho Steve Schuman has been bringing big-name acts—Shawn Colvin, Bruce Cockburn, Ani DiFranco—to the Chico area since 1997. Look for his shows at various venues, from the Chico Women’s Club to Moxie’s to the Paradise Performing Arts Center throughout the year. Info: www.chicotickets.com; 345-8136.
Formerly a “country bar,” one of the top spots to catch a wide-variety of touring and local original rock, punk, rap and metal five nights a week. Pub grub-type snacks are available on the weekends. 21-over. 1414 Park, 342-5202.
On the Rocks Lounge
This is the recently remodeled and renamed club inside the Holiday Inn. It draws an older set than the downtown bars and is next door to a restaurant. There’s a live D.J. Fridays and Saturdays and monthly open blues jam. Karaoke is a must. 21-over. 685 Manzanita Court, 345-2491.
Occurring regularly during the spring and summer months, when warmer weather brings people outside and into the shade of Children’s Park. Friday-night fare is generally mild rock, r&b, country and world music for families, while Tuesday night performances put on by the Downtown Music Revolution offer louder rock, punk, jam and reggae concerts for the young and young-at-heart. Located at the intersection of the Esplanade and W. First Street in downtown Chico.
J-Max Productions, run by long-time super promoter Justin Maximov, brings in the largest selection of big-name touring artists to the revamped old theater on Main Street. Modest Mouse, GWAR, String Cheese Incident, Mudvayne and Flogging Molly are just a few of the diverse, packed all-ages shows. 517 Main St. www.jmaxproductions.net; www.ticketweb.com.
Stormy’s Off-Broadway Bar and Grill
Small, dark and mellow, populated primarily by locals. The bands that play there Tuesdays through Saturdays tend to be of the hippie/jam/folk genres. 21-over. 132 W. 2nd St., 891-5065.
Scotty’s Boat Landing
Where local river rats go to drink a cold one and munch on something from the grill. The deck overlooks the Sacramento River and live rock, reggae or blues bands occasionally perform there. River Road, 893-2020.
Veterans Memorial Hall
This is a fairly new development in local music. It’s mostly local and touring punk bands (some metal) putting on all-ages shows in the big hall. Check www.chicolist.com for info. 900 Esplanade.
The Chico theater scene is vibrant and extends beyond the university, with several companies bringing different styles to the stage. The recently formed Alliance of Chico-area Theatres is a testament to the wide variety of quality choices for theater in this area. Check the Calendar section of the Chico News & Review, and keep an eye out for posters advertising productions and running dates.
Birdcage Theatre (Oroville)
Community run productions of the classics in an intimate setting. 1740 Bird St., Oroville, 533-BIRD (2473).
Blue Room Theatre
This veteran outfit brings community theater to a professional level, with well-produced cutting-edge modern and classic dramas and comedies featuring talented local actors. Shows range from locally written to award-winning scripts. 139 W. First St. (upstairs), 895-3749 www.blueroomtheatre.com.
Butte College Department of Performing Arts
The community college has been presenting one drama or musical each semester since the 1970s, ranging from classical to contemporary productions. The actors also take to the classroom with the annual Shakespeare in the Schools touring production. 895-2994.
Chico Cabaret Theatre
Chico Cabaret is located in the Almond Orchard shopping center and focuses on lively musicals, comedy and adult drama. Tables are set, dinner-theater style, and live music often accompanies productions. 2201 Pillsbury Road, in the Almond Orchard Center. 895-0245. www.chicocabaret.com.
Chico Theater Company
Chico Theater Company was started by locals Marc Edson and Brian Holderman with the goal of showcasing Broadway musicals. Housed in the former home of the Eaton Road Opera House, CTC plans eight shows a year, with premieres on Wednesdays and shows Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For fun, theatergoers are asked to dress up and get into the red-carpet mood on premiere night. 166 Eaton Road. 894-2CTC. www.chicotheatercompany.com.
CSU, Chico, Department of Theater Arts
Throughout the academic year, the department presents plays in two spaces (the Harlen Adams Theatre and the intimate Wismer Theatre) in the Performing Arts Center on campus. It also produces an annual musical production in Laxson Auditorium every spring and holds fort with the Court Theatre program during the summers. Call University Public Events at 898-5791 or University Box Office at 898-6333 for listings.
Ensemble Theatre of Chico
ETC spends most of the year hibernating, emerging every summer for its annual Shakespeare in the Park festival. Two or three productions are put on outdoors in the Cedar Grove area of Bidwell Park, with one selection selected from the canon of Shakespeare classics.
Theatre on the Ridge (Paradise)
The oldest community theater in the area, TOTR puts on an eclectic schedule of plays from contemporary to classic. 3735 Neal Rd., Paradise, 877-5760, www.totr.tierranet.com.
Presenting art-house films in a casual atmosphere. Get there early for the couches in the front row, and don’t miss out on Cheapskate Mondays, all seats just $2.50. 351 East Sixth St., 343-0663. www.pageantchico.com.
Chico’s largest theater, with 14 screens showing first-run films presented by Cinemark. 801 East Ave. (North Valley Plaza). 879-9612. www.cinemark.com.