L.A.'s underground metal, industrial and electronic music scenes are still reeling from last month's abrupt closure of Complex, the Glendale music venue that for the past four years was one of the region's best homes for cutting-edge sounds. Now, less than a month after its closure, the L.A. music community is rallying around Complex by throwing a massive benefit party for the venue at Union on Saturday, June 10.
"It was so soon after, we weren't sure what we could put together," says Complex co-owner John Giovanazzi, aka John G., who organized the event with help from metal promoters Church of the 8th Day. But as soon as Giovanazzi and his partners started putting out feelers, "We just got bombarded with people volunteering to be part of this."
Taking over all of Union's various spaces, the benefit will feature more than 20 artists representing the broad range of sounds and genres Complex provided a home for, "everything from rap to rhythmic noise to various metal stuff to DJs playing dance music to improvisational modular synthesizer stuff," as Giovanazzi puts it.
Among the night's many highlights will be sets from stoner thrash masters Ironaut, psych/doom outfit High Priestess and experimental electronic acts Baseck and Telefon Tel Aviv. There will even be a special pentagram ritual performed by the L.A. chapter of the Satanic Temple. (See below for complete lineup.)
Admission to the benefit is a mere $10, with all proceeds going to help Giovanazzi and partner Mike Guerrero cover the many expenses associated with being forced to close down your venue on short notice: payroll, insurance, bar inventory. They're also still on the hook for rent, even though they're not allowed to reopen.
Though Giovanazzi can't discuss exactly why Complex was forced to close, he can say that he and Guerrero have already begun looking for a new space. “We’re definitely looking at options. It’s a long process and L.A. is a tricky market," he says. "I wouldn’t say it’s 100 percent, because we don’t have a place [and] we’re not going to rush it. But the intention is there, for sure.”
In the meantime, Giovanazzi and Guerrero have been scrambling to move as many of their shows as possible into other spaces. This week alone, a June 7 show headlined by Graves at Sea and Graf Orlock has been moved to Five Star Bar (which is itself facing demolition in the near future), Samothrace and He Whose Ox Is Gored have been moved to the Viper Room on June 8, and Mr. Kitty and The Rain Within have been moved to Union on June 9. “We didn’t want to leave anybody hanging," says Giovanazzi, who recommends that fans check Complex's Facebook page for the latest updates on all its relocated and rescheduled shows.
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If there's been a silver lining in all of this, it's that the loss of Complex has, ironically, made the venue more popular than ever. "We had a pretty good idea that people liked us," Giovanazzi jokes, "but this has been huge." It's also pretty cool that Saturday night's benefit is bringing together the various music scenes Complex has hosted over the years in a way that's never happened before. Modular synth nerds will be rubbing shoulders with doom-metal fans, and that kind of interaction can only bode well for whatever Complex's next incarnation may be.
Full Complex benefit lineup (in alphabetical order):
The Satanic Temple - Los Angeles Chapter
Telefon Tel Aviv x Gibby Dais
Thrown Into Exile
Young and in the Way
Complex: A Benefit Event happens Saturday, June 10, at Union. Tickets and more info.
[Editor's note: After this article was originally published, we received word that Krammpstein, who were originally on the lineup, will not be able to perform. The article has been updated to remove mentions of them.]