The rise of the Arcade Underground

A new venue promises to bring national acts while supporting local charities

Robert Snyder (left) and Akash Lal aim to lift up Sacramento’s music scene.

Robert Snyder (left) and Akash Lal aim to lift up Sacramento’s music scene.


Look for the Arcade Underground (and its website) to go live on June 17 at 1108 Second Street.

Like most towns, Sacramento and its surrounding areas have seen a fair number of live music venues shut down in the past couple of decades. Think back to the Cattle Club, Bows & Arrows, Witch Room, Big Shots, Assembly Music Hall, Luigi’s Slice and Fun Garden and Cafe Paris. Now, the Winters Opera House’s fate is uncertain as well.

But with those departures also—sometimes—comes an exciting new venue. Enter the Arcade Underground.

The Arcade Underground is scheduled to hold its grand opening on Friday, June 17. The spot is located in Old Sacramento, an exceptionally challenging place to host live music as it lies just off the downtown grid and is buried by the freeway overpass. It comes from local promoter Robert Snyder and real estate mogul Akash Lal. Their goal with the Arcade Underground is twofold: to help worthy charities and leave an indelible mark on the music community.

“The reason we are doing charities is that both Akash and myself are fortunate,” Synder says. “We have good reason to give back to the community which supports us in everything we do, whether in music, real estate or any other venture.”

At the Arcade Underground’s soft opening in mid-May, Snyder and Lal raised $10,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation—a huge feat considering there were only 100 guests. Snyder says he already has his eyes set on more fundraisers throughout the year for organizations, such as Saint John’s Program for Real Change. The soft opening’s ritzy, Great Gatsby vibe helped draw folks to the venue, and Snyder plans to similarly adopt specific themes for special events to boost the Arcade Underground’s brand.

Snyder realizes Sacramento is a tough market. However, he still plans to have smaller shows aimed at the regular, Midtown-dwelling music fan. He expects the cover charges to range from $10 to $50, and potentially go even higher. Though no official shows have been announced yet, there are some whispers about Jeff Keith (Tesla), Corey Taylor (Slipknot, Stone Sour) and Aaron Lewis (Staind), as well as huge blues names Buddy Guy and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Local bands won’t be left in the dust, either.

“When we bring in large regional or national acts to headline, we will always use those opportunities to give exposure to Sacramento local acts,” Snyder says.

As for styles of music, Snyder wants to keep it eclectic but focus on Americana, folk, jazz, blues and acoustic varieties.

The 3,500-square-foot, 450-person space features ornate lighting, exposed brick walls and a gorgeous courtyard. Until the grand opening, it’s being used for fundraisers, private parties and other ticketed events.

“[We] are keeping this on the down-low on purpose,” Snyder says. “We have successfully created a cool, local speakeasy-type venue with a nondescript entrance. If you were walking by our place right now, you wouldn’t even know it exists except for the two ushers standing in front of our elevator leading to the downstairs level.”