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The Church on York Lives On

S.H.I.T. performing at Los Globos, co-presented by The Church on York
S.H.I.T. performing at Los Globos, co-presented by The Church on York
Photo courtesy of Los Globos

After opening in November, The Church on York became something of an indie-rock phenomenon. Based in a literal Highland Park church, it hosted high-caliber shows — including the Vivian Girls' final performance in Los Angeles — and also put on everything from art classes to support groups.

But the space's continued existence was in doubt almost from the get-go, due to complaints from neighbors and legal issues — after all, the spot did not have its proper permits. "The end of The Church on York came out of my sheer stupidity of putting the cart before the horse," says venue owner Graeme Flegenheimer. "It would have taken $500,000 to get the place up to code."

Thus, it was forced to shut down on May 15.

Its final show, featuring the band Haxan Cloak, had Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in attendance and earned about 20 noise complaints from neighbors, says Flegenheimer, adding: "We went out with a bang."

But there is hope yet for The Church on York. 

At the time of the venue's closing, Flegenheimer's team still had several months of events scheduled. To avoid a rash of cancellations, they scrambled to relocate them.

First on the docket  was a two day festival showcasing the Copenhagen underground music scene, called 13 Torches for a Burn, which was to be held May 16 and 17.

The Church on York had already flown more than two dozen Danish musicians to Los Angeles to play. "Some of them had never even been to America before," Flegenheimer says. "We had to find a place for the show."

And so, they condensed the event into a single day performance, and held it at Los Globos. "It was really long," he says. "But it was a success."

13 Torches for a Burn at Los Globos
13 Torches for a Burn at Los Globos
Photo by Casper Christoffersen

Since then, Flegenheimer has continued booking at Los Globos under The Church on York brand, along with its in-house team of Mitch Edelson, Emily Ibarra, and Angelica Ayala-Torres.

Of the 40 shows that needed to be moved, only four were cancelled, says Flegenheimer. Some were relocated to the Bootleg Theatre, the Echo, Pehrspace, and other local venues, but Los Globos appears to be The Church on York's new headquarters.

"We're co-presenting," says Ibarra. "We've got a packed lineup for the fall. We've already got eight months booked." 

For now, Flegenheimer is less concerned with the physical venue than preserving the project's legacy. "The Church mentality is that it's all ages, it's cool for anyone to come, and it's a safe place to see shows and have a good time."

In some ways, he's relieved that the Church is no more. For one thing, Los Globos has more sophisticated equipment and more space than the tiny, dilapidated, hundred-year-old church. (Though that was part of its charm.) But it's more than that. 

"I don't need to look over my shoulder every two seconds for police anymore," he says. "I don't need to worry about the ceiling falling down on someone or the power going out. I can finally just enjoy the music."

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