When I first moved to San Luis Obispo from the San Francisco Bay Area, I noticed a drastic difference in the music scene. It wasn’t easy to navigate the hip-hop music concerts I was typically used to in my hometown. However, little did I know there is a range of local music here that encompasses a variety of genres, including hip-hop.
Whether your musical appetite leans towards rap, EDM or folk, KCPR is here to guide you in discovering your musical community in San Luis Obispo, providing the details on local artists and live music for the upcoming year.
Connect the Coast
Born and raised on the California Central Coast, Lorde Sanctus also struggled to find his music community here. So, he created Connect the Coast — a music label, media company and hip-hop collective that guides local artists into the music industry.
The group of rap artists performs locally in venues such as Frog and Peach in downtown San Luis Obispo. Stay up to date on their upcoming events by following their Instagram, @connectthecoast.
Shwayze at SLO Brew Rock
With a rap style that evokes the laid-back feel of a summer day, Shwayze is set to perform at SLO Brew Rock on Feb. 16. Tickets and more information can be found here.
Kalan.FrFr & 03 Greedo at Fremont Theater
If you’re feeling reminiscent of your days blasting trap music with your friends at your hometown viewpoint, Los Angeles rappers Kalan.FrFr and 03 Greedo will help you relive those precious days with each of their performances at the Fremont Theater on March 9 and April 5.
Techno and House
Electronic music thrives in San Luis Obispo, whether it’s in a frat basement or a warehouse rave. However, its underground and nocturnal nature can make it difficult and overwhelming to find.
Traveling HAÜS Productions is a collective introducing EDM fans to the rave scene on the Central Coast. Founded by Cal Poly students, Traveling HAÜS performs lively DJ sets in a variety of fun, and sometimes secret, pop-up locations around San Luis Obispo.
“We’re not just about music and dance; we’re about building an inclusive community where everyone belongs,” their website says.
Shabang Music & Arts Festival
Shabang is the biggest music festival on the Central Coast and has a wide range of EDM artists in this year’s lineup. Happening May 3-4 at Dairy Creek Golf Course, this year’s festival will feature Noizu, LF System, Walker & Royce and more. Tickets and more information can be found here.
While the festival is not until May, Shabang is putting on smaller DJ sets and concerts earlier in the year. Their next event is with house artist Max Styler at the Fremont Theater on Feb. 16. Check out the festival’s Instagram to stay updated on the latest events.
SubSessions Creative Productions is a music collective that brings live EDM and DJ pop-up events to San Luis Obispo, San Diego and San Francisco.
In 2022, SubSessions brought 48 hours of live music to Santa Margarita for their Nightlife Savings Festival. The organization frequently collabs with Big Balsz Productions to provide live music at drag shows in San Luis Obispo.
Stay up to date on the latest SubSessions events on Instagram.
Hard rock and metal
Emo Night at Fremont Theater
If you’re more of the headbanging type, check out the infamous EMO Night at the Fremont Theater. Meet your fellow goth and metal music enthusiasts and rage hard to the likes of Fall Out Boy, PANIC! at the Disco and My Chemical Romance. Tickets for the event on March 1 can be found here.
Dark Nectar Coffee
In Atascadero, Dark Nectar Coffee routinely hosts live performances that focus on “hard and fast music,” such as metal, grind and punk. Drink some freshly roasted espresso and get ready to mosh.
Salsa, Reggaeton and Latin
CP Salsa Club
The Cal Poly Salsa Club exposes students to a variety of salsa, bachata and cha cha cha music while dancing the night away. Whether you want to take lessons or just freestyle and socialize, CP Salsa has a calendar and schedule of events to fit your preferences.
Bad Bunny Birthday Bash at Fremont Theater
In honor of Bad Bunny’s birthday, the Fremont Theater is hosting a dance party on March 8. Dive into the captivating beats of Latin trap and reggaeton as the event pays tribute to the reigning king of the genre’s music.
Bob Marley Day at SLO Brew Rock
Pato Banton at The Pour House
Grammy-nominated reggae artist Pato Banton is making his way to the Central Coast to perform at The Pour House in Paso Robles on March 3. With a musical journey that spans four decades, Pato Banton has not only toured with Sting but also dedicated himself to advocacy against gun violence, showcasing a rich and diverse range of experiences in the realm of uplifting music.
Basin Street Regulars Hot Jazz Club
Nestled by the waters of Oceano, Basin Street Regulars stands as a non-profit jazz organization, passionately contributing to scholarships for budding jazz musicians by hosting concerts. Stay informed on their upcoming events here.
Sunday Jazz Jam at The Siren
Situated in downtown Morro Bay, this eclectic music venue hosts a diverse array of performances, including an open mic night that pays homage to the spirit of jazz. Mark your calendar for their upcoming Sunday Jazz Jam on Feb. 25, where you can immerse yourself in funk, soul and jazz by local artists.
San Luis Obispo Folk Music Society
The San Luis Obispo Folk Music Society offers an excellent opportunity to discover local folk artists. They showcase live acoustic music at Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay and Castoro Cellars in Templeton.
Check out @slofolksmusic on Instagram for upcoming shows.
Line Dancing & Country Nights at The Grad
The Grad in San Luis Obispo is a haven for country music lovers. The Grad routinely hosts country music nights and line dancing workshops for those 18+. Stay tuned for updates on their next event by checking out their Instagram @the_grad_slo.
Highway Star at SLO Brew Rock
Modern country rock band Highway Star is planning to throw “a country party like no other” on Feb. 17.
Priscilla Block at Fremont Theater
If Carrie Underwood and Dolly Parton help wipe your tears at night, don’t miss the chance to experience the rising female country star Priscilla Block live at Fremont Theater on Feb. 10. Her breakout hit “Just About Over You” went viral on TikTok in 2020 and her music listens have skyrocketed since.
House shows are an essential component of San Luis Obispo culture and are a great opportunity to explore the local indie scene. @slo.underground on Instagram is an excellent resource for keeping up to date about house shows in the area.
Music Production Union
The Music Production Union (MPU) is a Cal Poly club dedicated to creating and performing music. Whether they’re in the jungle gyms of Architecture Graveyard or at an open mic night at a cafe, MPU shows celebrate emerging musicians and the spirit of indie music. Follow @mpucalpoly to stay in the loop of upcoming shows.
KCPR regularly hosts concerts and promotes local indie artists. Follow us on Instagram @kcpr913 to stay informed about KCPR collaborations, ticket giveaways, upcoming performances and more.