Los Angeles is a place regularly revered for its film-making industry, the hills of Hollywood offering the perfect setting for the film world’s greatest to ply their trade. However, the City of Angels is more than just a filmmakers dream, no the city has plenty on offering for any music fan. Los Angeles music finds a home at the below revered live venues.
El Rey Theatre
A stone’s throw from Museum Row on the Miracle Mile, one of Los Angeles’ preserved art deco districts, the El Rey Theatre is a stunner, from its nostalgic neon signage to the grand chandelier-lighted ballroom. The El Rey was built in 1936 and designed by Clifford Balch. After over 50 years as a first run movie house, the El Rey was converted into a live music venue in 1994. A registered Historic-Cultural Monument, the El Rey has sweeping staircases, an art deco lobby, VIP balcony lounge and a grand ballroom equipped with a full stage. It’s a beautiful place to stop and see a show and offers a number of interesting acts, specializing in booking artists on the cusp of mainstream stardom, giving fans the chance to see artists such as Lana Del Rey in a relatively small setting before they graduate to bigger music venues. Check out Australian band San Cisco in the coming weeks!
A more recent opening, The Smell may have only been around for a decade, but already it has a reputation for providing cheap, but cheerful gigs for music lovers of all ages in L.A. Most shows total at just $5, cheaper than most fast food joints and the venue itself has an accessible, welcoming vibe. This space was essential in the development of the unique L.A. noise and punk scenes, with acts like No Age, Mika Miko, and Abe Vigoda as regular guests the future has seen bands like Pangea and FIDLAR carrying the torch.
The principle of D.I.Y and community is very important for the Smell as they’re completely not-for-profit and volunteer run. The community of individuals who call The Smell their home, whether it be the musicians who play here, the artists whose work hangs on the walls, or the dedicated supporters who attend events week in and week out, for one of the best Los Angeles music venues, visit the Smell!
Located in a corner of Little Tokyo that sees the least amount of foot traffic, the Blue Whale is a jazz sanctuary. The sound system is perfect, the house piano is a jewel and the bar staff takes care of you. Whether you want to hear avant-noise from serious-looking Europeans or soak up some straight-ahead sounds from our vast collection of Los Angeles music talent, the Blue Whale is always a worthwhile bet.
A great historic venue, which has to compete in a city full of historic theaters, the Wiltern is unique. Officially known as the Pellissier Building, the theater and office complex was designed as a vaudeville house. The Wiltern Theatre opened its doors on Oct. 7, 1931, as the Warner Theatre, but the theater went dark only two years later, due to the Depression.
Today Live Nation, hosts a wide variety of events — not just concerts, but everything from benefits and galas to Lebowski Fest. Eight decades in, it’s both a reminder of, and a contributor to, our local cultural history. Named for its cross streets, Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, the Wiltern was built in the glamorous art deco style, and headliners such as Wilco and the White Stripes’ Jack White stop here. Vertically challenged concertgoers appreciate the balcony seating and multiple levels of standing room, making a view of the stage possible even from the back of the theater. Similar to the El Rey, it has a wonderful clash of music and old-timey settings that concertgoers tend to love and behold, in an industry that is leaning more and more towards 20,000 soulless arenas for pop-stars to fill up and move onto the next identikit venue.
Is there another club in the city with this much rock n’ roll history? Lenny Bruce got arrested on obscenity charges, Elton John played his first U.S. date, Janis Joplin partied there the night before she died of a heroin overdose. Warrant made their debut, Guns N Roses and Tom Waits got discovered, Prince played two secret shows. Phew!
The Troubadour may well be approaching its 60th birthday, but unlike other spots whose heydays are past, any time you see a show at the Troubadour, there’s a chance history will be made. In a lovely change from the arenas which populate the country nowadays, this wonderful club is intimate -the stage is small and in the summer, you’ll probably leave drenched in sweat. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
It’s a favorite stop for musicians who live in L.A. and even those who don’t; arena headliners such as as Prince and Coldplay have come here to preview new material. Small enough to lend intimacy to the ballads of a singer-songwriter, but big enough for a raucous rock show, the Troubadour is a treasure. If you need anymore convincing just head over to the website and check out the history of landmarks and achievements that have occurred there, it is truly mind-blowing.
While strictly it was originally a Mexican restaurant, Velvet Margarita has always featured top-notch DJs, but they’ve just started featuring bands on their patio during their “Cahuenga Block Party,” a summer shindig co-promoted with St. Felix. Throw in $5 premium margaritas “every day until the recession ends” and another wallet-friendly feature, complimentary tortilla chips accompanied by warm beans and three types of salsa, even if you just fancy a visit to a quality Mexican restaurant, with music on the side, the Margarita is a viable option.
The focus is still on developing the restaurant, and the combined concept of a restaurant-gig venue is slowly becoming a reality, with the successful parties leading to more and more events, with 2015 likely to see the biggest and best summer parties with live rock and roll.
Loaded is aptly named, both for the liquor and the flavorful menu. They offer exceptional deals on beer and pizza, that accompany the nightly live rock music perfectly. Sure it’s not the Hollywood Bowl, in terms of surroundings or acts that they manage to attract, but for a truly grimy rock and roll Los Angeles music experience, with beer in abundance, there won’t be many better places for a music fan to visit.
Agree or Disagree; let me know your favorite Los Angeles music hotspots.