Let's Talk Iconic L.A. Music Venues

Monday, December 30, 2013

  • Photo courtesy of Sean Carrillo
  • Atomic Cafe Patrons

By Paige Osburn

Once upon a time, Sid Vicious walked into a tiny café in Little Tokyo, got six orders of fried rice and started a food fight. On another occasion, David Byrne ordered an Egg Foo Yung and a glass of milk. And on different night, an all-girl band from Los Angeles picked up a plate of Gogo Chicken and decided they liked the name.

This is 422 East First Street, the corner of First and Alameda in Little Tokyo. Down the street is the Digby Hotel. Beyond that, the Los Angeles Soap Company. And inside is the Atomic Café, noodle house and one time after-hours punk hangout.

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Monday, June 17, 2013

For the last 55 years, the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium has had all types of boring conventions, cat shows and craft fairs. But it's also held some amazing concerts; truth be told, its importance to the local rock and punk music scenes cannot be overstated.

Due to a combination of obsolescence and budget cuts, the landmark venue -- located at Pico and Main -- is finished hosting concerts, though the auditorium will still have some city events.

This news has gone largely under the radar. But that's a shame, because artists like Iggy Pop, David Bowie, and Queen performed classic shows there in the '70s, and in the following decades the spot helped propel the national punk movement, hosting acts like X, The Misfits, The Cramps, Bad Religion, and Black Flag.

See also: Our GV 30 slideshow: Bad Religion, TSOL, Youth Brigade

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Orpheum Theatre has six floors of dressing rooms, a film projector, a world-class sound system and one of the only surviving Wurlitzer theater organs in the country. It's also one of the last independent venues in the city. Ninety years in, it continues to thrive after more than 85 years thanks to its enthusiastic leader, Steve Needleman whose family has owned the building since 1964.

It opened in 1926 as the final theater included in vaudeville master Gustav Walter's chain of revue theaters, each called the Orpheum. It was the number one place to see Hollywood's biggest names, at a time when live variety shows reigned supreme. Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr. and Judy Garland -- who was discovered at the Orpheum performing under her true name Francis Gumm -- all performed there.

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Friday, November 30, 2012

  • Bailey Pennick
The Canyon Country Store has been the makeshift cultural center of Laurel Canyon for a full century. Immortalized in the Doors song "Love Street," this deli-market is not a venue, but it's got historical music importance to spare, and continues to be -- as Jim Morrison put it -- the "store where the creatures meet."

Known for its winding narrow streets and terrifying mudslides, Laurel Canyon became a part of the city of Los Angeles in 1923. Its close proximity to Hollywood and ample unused hillside attracted the film industry's elite "photoplayers" including Clara Bow, Errol Flynn and Harry Houdini.

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Shrine Auditorium, once home to the Academy Awards, hosted countless landmark concerts in its prime, but now is less in the spotlight than its rival up Figueroa -- LA Live. Still, the Shrine has found a second life as a hub for raves.

See also: *Jack White at The Shrine, 8/10/12

*Steve Aoki Responds to Death of Three at His Show in Spain

Built in 1906 as an Al Malaikah Temple (L.A.'s headquarters for the Shriners), the original Shrine Auditorium stood 14 years before it went up in flames in 1920. The original building -- which boasted the Titantic-esque quality of being "practically fireproof" -- burned to the ground in under a half hour. (The cause is unknown.)

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Reseda Country Club today - BAILEY PENNICK
  • Bailey Pennick
  • The Reseda Country Club today
The San Fernando Valley doesn't come to mind when you think "iconic clubs," but in the 1980s the West Valley was the place to see acts like Tom Petty, Merle Haggard, Metallica and U2.

See also: What Makes the Hollywood Bowl So Perfect?

The Reseda Country Club, located on Sherman Way near Reseda Boulevard, has a rich history. Now a church, its notoriety lives on in the film Boogie Nights.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Is the Hollywood Bowl southern California's most beloved performance space? Quite possibly. Where else do folks brag not just about seeing an act, but about attending a venue itself? Seating 17,376 patrons, it hosts shows six-out-of-seven nights a week --Tuesdays and Thursdays are classical, Wednesdays jazz and the weekends reserved for pop, rock and fireworks. It's like summer camp for L.A. music lovers, except that bringing your own booze is actually encouraged.

Its 91st season came to a close on September 30th with Wilco and Joanna Newsom. It opened on July 11, 1922 with a classical program called "Symphonies Under the Stars," conducted by Alfred Hertz. With only a simple tarp and wooden structure as a stage -- and crude movable benches for the audience -- the acoustic quality wasn't much back then. But the structure could be removed for dramatic productions like Camelot and the immensely popular Easter services, which first put the spot on the map.

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