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Top Ten Historic Rock Clubs in L.A.

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Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 4:32 AM

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click to enlarge SEAN O'CONNELL
  • Sean O'Connell
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

click to enlarge TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
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

click to enlarge TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
3. The Satellite

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

click to enlarge TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
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

See also: Odd Future Riot: Roxy Owner Nic Adler Explains What the Hell Happened

click to enlarge TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
1. Troubadour

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

See also: Top 10 Live Music Venues in L.A.: The Complete List

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