I have a few friends in a reggae band (the fabulous Kalbass), and while they usually play in downtown SF, they were particularly excited about a gig at Ashkenaz at Berkeley. Every single one of them told me that this was the place to catch their act -- as it was one of their favorite musical venues. After visiting Ashkenaz, I can totally understand why they were so excited about the place. It's incredibly spacious, has great acoustics, and most importantly, cultivates an incredibly laid-back vibe. This is not a place to "see and be seen." It is not pretentious. It is all about great live music, great company, and lots of dancing. I can't think of a better place to gather a group and check out a new band. Highly recommended.