As a member of a metal band in middle school (SERPENTYNE 4EVER!), one of our lofty goals was to play at SOMA. An old movie-theater-turned-concert-venue, SOMA plays host to the large majority of metal, emo, hardcore, and screamo shows in town. From time to time they get pretty big DJs to visit, or invite local rock acts, but the scene is predominantly a guitar-based one.

Located in a funky strip mall in the Midway neighborhood next to the Valley View Casino Center (the sports arena for you traditionalists), SOMA is as close as you can get to ‘central’ in San Diego county. The easy location is perfect for kids to get dropped off by their parents without much grumbling about a long drive. In fact, one of the best things about SOMA is that every show is all-ages. In SD, this is increasingly rare, and, as a music fan who grew up here, very frustrating. Most good venues in town are either 21+ or 18+, leaving very few options for a 14-year-old metalhead. Thankfully, SOMA was always there, providing me with many opportunities to bang my head and mosh to my heart’s content.

The venue actually has two stages: a Main Hall and a side stage. They are rarely active simultaneously, but allow the space to fit the crowd’s size. The side stage can be curtained off to lower the hall’s 2300 capacity to a much smaller 1100. Since this is an old movie theater we’re discussing, there is not much to say in regard to the sound quality. It’s bad. It’s muddy, incredibly loud, and makes chests rattle with its over-the-top bass levels. But you’re not going to find these shows anywhere else in town.

Venue Specs

Price: Most ticket prices range between $10-20, with a few big acts (especially DJs) charging more

Parking: Easy. Lot in front and on all sides.

What it is: A grungy old movie-theater that’s perfect for wildin’ out

What it’s not: An intimate space where sound matters

Most likely to: Run into the emo crowd / get hearing damage

Least likely to: Keep your fancy shoes clean


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