It’s been almost three years since the Roxy’s Lou and Nic Adler joined forces with Goldenvoice, and by all accounts the venue has been thriving more than ever, providing the Sunset Strip’s most diverse array of bookings and events. While the people who determine which acts will grace the club’s famous marquee are (rightfully) viewed as captains of the ship, there are others on board who are vital to keeping it afloat. These people rarely get accolades or attention and often, their hard work is taken for granted.
At just 23 years old, Molly Gibney has become one of the Roxy’s most important crew members, but it’s not just her age that makes her story unique. Gibney is the daughter of one of L.A.’s legendary nightlife gatekeepers, Stephanie Mata, and she became an intern at the Roxy at the tender age of 15, while her mother worked the door. Eight years later, Gibney is the one making sure every show runs smoothly as director of venue operations. Her mom, meanwhile, took a break from door duty for a while but recently returned to work right down the street at the Viper Room, one of the spots that first made her beloved by many and feared by some in the club scene. With this mother-daughter team working two of Sunset's best-known live music locales, it’s a rock & roll family affair on the Strip these days.
“To be 100 percent honest, my mom made me start interning at the Roxy. I was being home-schooled so I didn’t have the same schedule as most kids my age,” Gibney admits to me, taking a rare break from her hectic schedule at the club. “I also didn’t share the same outlook or interests as kids my own age. Music and art have always been No. 1, so it was only natural that I wanted to be around something that I love.”
Gibney did typical intern stuff in the beginning: “getting coffee, answering phones, getting Pedialyte and Advil for hungover rock stars … you know, the usual,” she recalls. “Fifty shows later, my bosses really noticed my strong work ethic and gradually gave me more and more responsibility. Three hundred shows later, I was no longer an intern but a paid employee with a title, assistant production manager; 600 shows later, I became the production manager; and about 1,000 shows later, I’m now the director of venue operations.”
Working at one of L.A.’s legendary clubs sure sounds like a lot fun, especially for a 20-something, but there are a lot of moving parts to manage. Organization, dedication and communication are key, and Gibney is very good at what she does. Shows always go off at the Roxy without a hitch (that the crowds can see, anyway), and bands clamor to play there because they know everything is well-handled, from booking to all the details that come afterward.
“One of the biggest parts of the job is the advance,” she explains. “Advancing is the process that begins weeks before a show or tour ever begins. In the advance you will go over parking, labor, load-in, load-out, scheduling, audio, lighting, hospitality, merchandise, venue amenities, guest list, meet-and-greets, press, security, hotels, settlement — the list goes on. There are an infinite number of situations that could pop up day of the show, too. No advance will totally foolproof your day, but it can tighten things up significantly. Once I have all the information that I need, I put together a production sheet to send out to our house crew. The sheet has all the key points from the advance such as times, tech info and extra details.”
On top of the show advance, Gibney handles all scheduling and staffing, and she supervises all aspects of production from load-in and load-out, to cleaning and maintenance, to repair and inventory.
“I love everything about my job,” she says. “I get to listen to music every day. I get to hear interesting stories. I get to meet cool people. This job really keeps me on my toes, and there is never a dull moment. I guess the one thing I don’t like that comes along with it is hearing people say that one sentence … those six words: ‘Don’t you know who I am?!’”
Nobody in Los Angeles is better at handling those words than Gibney's mom, who has worked at all the hot spots, from Scream to Pretty Ugly at the Dragonfly to long-gone Strip faves the Cat Club (now Rock & Reilly’s) and the Key Club (now 1 Oak). Mata's job even led her to get a tear tattoo on her finger, which she slyly places under her eye when too-cool types try to jive her at the door.
“She is the definition of a badass,” Gibney says of her mom. “She’s smart, funny, creative and strong, all while being the most stylish person you have ever seen. She is without a doubt my biggest role model. … If you have been out to a show in the past 25-plus years, you have definitely dealt with her.”
Her parents have been together for 26 years and her dad, known as “Angry” Dave Gibney, also works in music, touring with pretty much everyone as an audio engineer (he’s currently on the road with Bad Religion and does sound at the Roxy when he’s in town). “He has taught me so much about production and how to run things properly. When I think of a hard worker, I think of my dad, and I really strive to have his work ethic and sense of humor. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to go to work with my mom or daddy. I am so lucky that they included me in everything that they did.”
Gibney’s success solidifies a theory I have about “rock & roll parents.” (I happen to be one myself.) People who expose their kids to rock or music in general, taking them to shows and even letting them see a bit of its dark side, rather than shielding them from it, for the most part rear some pretty bright and strong-minded personalities, which serves them well in work and life. Music somehow matures kids faster, too.
“I was born old. People have always assumed that I am older based on the way that I carry myself,” Gibney says. “Also being a woman in this business is now the norm. It’s great that it doesn’t seem to carry the same stigma that it used to.”
The Roxy is Goldenvoice’s busiest venue these days, presenting live shows six nights a week, so Gibney often works long hours in her office at the club (which she recently had painted pink). Of course, she stays for many of the great shows, too. Literally growing up at the club, she knows and loves it almost as much as the Adlers themselves.
“At the end of the day it’s kind of crazy,” she says. “I am fortunate enough to work in a place where having Patti Smith braid my hair or playing ping-pong with Neil Young or listening to U2 sound-check as I eat my lunch is considered the norm.”
Los Angeles native Lina Lecaro has been covering L.A. nightlife since she started as a teen intern at L.A. Weekly (fake ID in tow) nearly two decades ago. She went on to write her own column, “Nightranger,” for the print edition of the Weekly for six years. Read her “Lina in L.A.” interviews for the latest nightlife news, and follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
More from Lina Lecaro:
The Cure Played Four Encores at the Hollywood Bowl and We Still Didn't Want It to End
Why Has Everyone From Slash to Dave Grohl Played This Tiny Bar in Tarzana?
Jane Wiedlin Looks Back on 38 Years of Go-Go's
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