This article, as well as some of the comments below, make the same mistake that the City does: lumping DIY art venues in with after hours bars and unpermitted, for profit dance parties. Galleries like Homeroom and Echo Curio, or spaces like LA Fort, don't sell alcohol and only ask for donations or a small charge at the door. They are run as a labors of love, by volunteers who believe in expanding community involvement in the arts, and are usually subsidized by those who run them. These venues aim to be self-sustaining and be able to make their rent and utility payments, but keep charges and costs minimal, not because they are bad businesspeople, but because they want to include artists, musicians, students, at-risk youth and anyone else, regardless of income. Local performers generally receive only a small payment from the door charge, and customarily donate some or all of that back to the venue or to out-of-town performers to help defer their travel expenses.
The performances at these sorts of spaces are often more aesthetically challenging than you'd find in a for-profit bar like the Echo, and typically attract no more than a few dozen spectators at most. No disrespect to the Warlocks, but as a professional rock band with a well-developed career and a sizeable following, they are not the sort of musician that these venues host. Think free improv jazz, electronic drone and noise, avant classical, heavy psych, primitive acoustic guitar, sound poetry, or a host of other vital genres way out past the borders of commercial profitability. Though sometimes these musicians develop into something more marketable and wind up playing venues like the Echo, most have zero chance of playing a club like that, because the audience for their music is limited, even in a city the size of Los Angeles.
For the owner of the Echo to suggest that local DIY art spaces should go through the same licensing process as his for-profit bar is ridiculous. It's also absurd to expect non-profit, self-organized community arts organizations with a limited audience to pay those sorts of fees and legal expenses. For the City of LA to require that DIY art spaces serve alcohol and food in order to get a Café music permit is idiotic -- that just sends them down another bureaucratic rabbit-hole. These spaces are not bars or restaurants, any more than a for-profit art gallery or public auditorium is. One of the best things about DIY spaces is that audiences come to focus on the art or music, not just for a bit of distraction while they drink. You'd think the City would want to encourage all-ages community participation in the arts, rather than forcing venues to peddle alcohol, wouldn't you?
Why, then, is the City engaging in this vendetta against public-spirited arts groups? Previous reporting in the Weekly and local scuttlebutt suggest that the vice squad is just acting as muscle for politically connected businesses like the Echo that (erroneously) view them as a threat to their profits. Or it may be that the City prefers to shut down harmless idealistic art collectives, rather than addressing the very real problem of after hours bars and unpermitted warehouse parties, and the associated drug dealing, violence and other related crimes. Either way, it's foolish, wrongheaded, an abuse of power and a waste of scarce public resources.