Ann Johansson/Corbis
Rachel B. Levin
December 24, 2014

Rock music is the soundtrack of Los Angeles. With the recording industry based here, the city's rock clubs are much more than just entertainment venues−for aspiring rock stars, they're way stations on the road to fame. Various rock movements have flourished here over the years, from folk-rock stars of the 1960s, to 1980s hair metal acts, to 1990s grunge gods, to the punk and indie bands of today. Rock's geography in the city is also diffuse. Littered with music clubs, the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood has been rock's de facto capital since the '60s. But in recent years, Silver Lake has played an important role in the genre's development, with countless bands rising to stardom via the neighborhood's indie scene. Also, Downtown's rock cred has grown as formerly industrial areas have been redeveloped into bars and clubs. Here are five places to sample rock's past, present, and future.

The Troubadour

Opened in 1957, this storied rock club has launched the careers of countless legendary acts. Bob Dylan, Elton John, James Taylor, and Joni Mitchell are just a few who performed here early in their careers. The intimate setting offers an up-close-and-personal view of the current hit-makers who grace the stage.

The Satellite

This Silver Lake club is carrying on the legacy of its former occupant Spaceland, which was instrumental in breaking indie and alternative rock acts like Beck and the Foo Fighters. It continues to be an incubator for rising stars, and you might even catch arena-rock giants swinging through for a set.

The Roxy

The neon-soaked Sunset Strip club is the epicenter of LA's rock-'n'-roll scene, and this historic club is its ground zero. Neil Young played the grand opening in 1973, setting the stage for a long list of luminaries stretching from Frank Zappa to Mötley Crüe to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. 

The Smell

Get ready for some noise! This grungy downtown spot is a magnet for punk and experimental rock, and the vibe is thoroughly D.I.Y. It's volunteer-run, and most shows are $5, so the edgy acts onstage can jam free of corporate interests. Bonus: there's graffiti art and a vegan snack bar.

The Viper Room

This club was all the rage when it opened in 1993: Johnny Depp was a co-owner, Courtney Love hung out, and bands like the Wallflowers got discovered on the small stage. Today, things are a bit tamer, but you'll still spot metal, punk, and alternative acts on the verge of fame. 

You May Like