Bar and live music venue in the Potrero Hill
neighborhood of San Francisco
, south of South of Market
. Bottom of the Hill (the "the" is optional) opened in late summer of 1991, and is coming up on its 10 year anniversary as of this writing.
It's too small, the bathrooms are kind of gross, its neighborhood is increasingly lofted and unfriendly to nightlife... and I and many others love it with all our hearts. That makes it sound like a dive, but it isn't - it's actually fairly nicely appointed, being a relatively new club. The melty clay-shingled trim around the interior walls resembles crazy architecture from out of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and the ceiling back by the pool room glides down in exaggerated forced perspective to the back wall. The main space proudly features framed copies of the silkscreened Frank Kozik posters for each and every Noise Pop Festival, an SF scene tradition that could hardly exist without Bottom of the Hill. There's a patio out back, glutted with smokers every time there's a break between bands, and a deck on the second story. Incidentally, you can get a good cheeseburger at the kitchen window, open till about 10:30 most nights.
As for the kind of music you'll find there, the rule is rock and roll, although you find a fair amount of smaller electronica and experimental acts going through, along with a few things that could be described as country. Punk rock is frequent, especially on the Sunday afternoon shows, which are generally all ages and feature, get this, all-you-can-eat BBQ. Many if not most indie acts that do significant nationwide touring come through Bottom of the Hill.
BotH made the papers in 1996 when local alternative radio station Live 105 leaked the news that members of the Beastie Boys planned to jam with friends from hardcore act Sick Of It All, under the name Quasar. 1,200 fans swarmed 17th Street and riot cops were called in.
The club's website at www.bottomofthehill.com features, in addition to the standard events calendar an maps and all, a phenomenal collection of resources for bands trying to get shows in the Bay Area. The contact names and phone numbers of other clubs are obviously of limited geographical appeal, but the extensive notes on how and why BotH's booking staff makes its decisions are good reading for any musician. There's also a scrapbook of posters for club shows from its early life, by Kozik, Coop, and other prominent artists of the '90s underground rock-poster wave.
And I can't believe I nearly forgot to mention: totally alone on its drab industrial block, a large purple neon sign.