Sure, the savvy and brave enter their freshman year in college with a fake I.D. and are granted early entrance into the watering holes filled to the brim with older men and women. Yet for those collegiates not lucky enough to have a brother or sister who so dutifully loaned you their C.D.L., there are places you can see good, live music that's plugged in (troubadour hippie acoustic types, see our "Open Mic" section at left).
Che Café9500 Gilman Drive, (UCSD Campus), La Jolla,
This is the mecca for UCSD's progressive subculture. It also has the best atmosphere, best performers and cheapest food of all all-ages venues in San Diego, and ticket prices never exceed $8. Still, don't be surprised if you're driven away by sneers after bringing in a fatty bag of McDonald's cheeseburgers, or wearing the wrong band T-shirt. Past bands include GoGoGo Airheart, Drive Like Jehu and Xiu Xiu.
Epicentre8450 Mira Mesa Blvd., Mira Mesa, 858-271-4000
A nice little place with rafters for hardcore kids to swing from in various states of angst, and possessor of the most useless website on the face of the earth. Yet when Soma ain't scoopin' the great all-ages bills up, the Epicentre hosts shows by the likes of Ben Kweller, Dashboard Confessional and Aceyalone.
Soma3350 Sports Arena Blvd., Midway, 619-226-7662
Pop some Soma before going to Soma-no re-entry allowed. Soma is the all-ages name of repute in San Diego-the place where local bands like blink-182 and Unwritten Law cut their teeth (albeit in different locations of the club). The new location is the old Mann movie theatre, old ticket booth and concession stand-turned-merchandise spot included. It's got one huge main stage for national headliners like The Darkness, P.O.D. and Finch, plus a smaller side stage for local and smaller indie bands.
Gelato Vero3753 India St., Middletown, 619-295-9269,
The perfect place for anything from out-of-control, DEVO-inspired punk bands to sentimental folk music. It's a punk gelato-and-coffee shop that's D.I.Y. to the tilt-meaning the sound sucks, but if you complain about that, you probably don't get it.
Ground Zero2930 El Jamacha Road, El Cajon, 619-660-3960
A hot all-ages spot for those of us stuck out in El Cajon for some reason.
Fusion Dance Club775 Metcalf St., Escondido, 760-741-9393
The closest thing to a nightclub you'll get to before actually going to a nightclub. So what's the catch? There's no alcohol. Thankfully, at least they still play loud, obnoxious club music to give you that unbeatable club feel.