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L.A. has some of the most iconic rock n' roll venues in the country. From the sparkly glam rock of the Sunset Strip to the grimy punk of dim clubs scattered throughout the city, we tend to host some of the biggest national acts on local stages first. When it comes to our important historic local clubs, some have shuttered, but these ten venues are still vibrant.
10. The Echo
Entering the double doors of this Echo Park staple, you're likely to see bigger local or touring bands making one of their first stops in L.A. The beauty of the Echo is that you check out any genre of music on any given night. Its appearance may seem drab and a bit mundane, but what you can't replace is its coziness and that there isn't a bad sight line in the entire place. On many nights, the place is packed, allowing you to revel with friends and A-listers in a place as intimate as a large living room. -Daniel Kohn
9. El Cid
Its flamenco dance shows have been a staple in Silver Lake for decades, but when El Cid became a proper club venue, it proved even more stomp-worthy. From jazz jams to raging dance parties (The Rootdown) to band bookings big (Jane's Addiction) and small (Sunset Junction locals), El Cid's old timey interior and charming outdoor patio offer a one of a kind environment. The space's well-documented capacity issues have seen some struggles over the years, but El Cid has endured even as ownership has changed hands. Most recently club impresario Steve Edleson (current Los Globos owner) sold it to Foodchain Records' Scott Milano, and so far, the place has seen a renewed zestiness — that goes for the food, too! -Lina Lecaro
8. 3 Clubs
The little neon sign outside an otherwise nondescript brick building crouched between a gas station and a strip mall announces only "cocktails." Sure enough, inside 3 Clubs is a slim, classic cocktail lounge: low light, leather booths, and a wall of glittering liquor bottles. But proceed through the double double doors into the adjoining performance room and — on certain nights at least — a pocket rocket of a rock club is revealed. The low semi-circle of a stage has hosted everything from sepia-toned folk (The Coals) and dolled-up country (Lynda Kay) to peppy garage pop (The Action Cats) and even full-bore hardcore (It's Casual). -Paul Rogers
7. Viper Room
When Viper Room opened back in 1993 it was known more for its famous owner (Johnny Depp) than its music offerings. Then River Phoenix's death in front of the place made it a tragic landmark. But infamy aside, the Viper Room's bookings are what make it special. The tiny club gave Metal Shoppe aka Metal School aka Steel Panther its first exposure, as well as the Pussycat Dolls (which started as a burlesque revue). All the secret shows, all-star jams, and crazy moments — BJMs Anton Newcombe's freak-out captured on film, The Living Things fire-y set that got them banned a few years ago — are too plentiful to list here, but it's worth noting that even after the club was taken over by the Morton family (Pink Taco) a few years ago, the energy continues to remain as unpredictably venomous as ever. -Lina Lecaro
Some clubs may be roomier, some may be sleeker, and some may be have bigger name bookings, but perhaps no place in Hollywood has been consistently cool for as long as the Dragonfly. Offering some of the most unique acts in town for nearly two decades, Anthony Belanger's dark and gritty rock grotto has been home to neo-glamsters (Taime Downe's Pretty Ugly club in the '90s), fetishy grinders (Miss Kitty's Parlour), retro-ragers (The Spazmatics) and everything in between. Its solid sound, plentiful sight lines, relaxed outdoor patio and adjacent dance room (added in 2005) continue to be a draw for diverse crowds, and most importantly, bands looking to get up close with fans — Dave Grohl chose the club for the first of his secret Foo Fighters shows last year. The club celebrates its 20th anniversary this November. -Lina Lecaro
5. The Mint
Is there a club in Los Angeles with lower ceilings? Probably, but none with the prestige. Since 1937 the Mint has hosted artists like Stevie Wonder, Willie Dixon and Ray Charles and continues to be a prime location for soul, folk and the occasional jazz show. In the last month Johnny Depp and George Clinton have dropped in on separate nights just to have a little fun. The intimate room has an affordable bar, excellent sight-lines and the greatest prize, ample street parking. -Sean O'Connell
4. The Smell
Though The Smell got its start in North Hollywood, the enduring all-ages venue earned its malodorous name and sterling reputation upon relocating to its Skid Row-adjacent home in 2000. The scent in question? A mix of bum urine and rotting garbage, but fight through the alley stank and discover the all-ages venue to end all: free haircuts, vegan snacks, indie artwork on graff-covered walls, and an extensive zine library. And then there's the stage: a roughshod riser facing a quarter-pipe that not only launched No Age's career, but which plays host to the city's most vibrant experimental music to this day. -Chris Martins
Oh Satellite, despite your odd spat with Spaceland a couple years ago, you've managed to hold on to your place in our hearts as a damn fine rock club. How? You haven't changed a bit — the sparkly blue and silver curtains draped on the walls, the primary colored stage lights, and the speakers turned up to eleven on all songs even if it's just a folk outfit. It's still the place where young bands perfect their act. Everyone from the Foo Fighters to Beck to Silversun Pickups to Foster the People to Local Natives have spent long hard hours on this stage making the well-heeled, hard-to-impress crowd love them. The true test of a band is whether or not they can get the audience to leave the safety of the bar for the dance floor. No easy task. -Molly Bergen
2. The Roxy
The first week the Roxy was open (fall of '73), Neil Young played. In the early '80s, Paul Reubens debuted his Pee-Wee Herman character there. Everybody from Bob Marley to Bruce Springsteen has recorded live albums at the Sunset Strip hotspot. Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss threw parties in On the Rox, the bar above the venue that contains a couple stripper poles, and John Belushi was there before he fatally OD'ed. But unlike many infamous spots in L.A., the Roxy has stayed true to its roots — in December, Tyler the Creator, the enfant terrible front man of Odd Future, was arrested after he jumped on the venue's soundboard. Rock n' roll. -Rebecca Haithcoat
Inside the wood beamed walls of the Troubadour there is a feeling that anything is possible. This small club on Santa Monica Blvd is where careers bloom, which is damned impressive considering how long it's been open. Most venues wax and wane over the years and usually ultimately disappear, but the Troubadour seems to be the exception. Why? They seemed to be blessed with great booking. It's not just the place where James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Elton John flourished. It's not just the place where John Lennon and
Henry Harry Nilson got kicked out for mocking the Smothers Brothers. It's where Florence and the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Lana del Rey, Odd Future and tons of other up and coming bands played their earliest gigs in LA. It's where you can go to see futures sprout before the rest of the country knows what hit them. -Molly Bergen
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