The Key Club's last day is today! Ever since West Coast Sound broke the story of its impending closure, local music fans have been mourning the place. Personally, we've been to the venue hundreds of times, and worked there as a DJ during Metal Skool's heyday for about two years. We believe the venue's best shows happened under the Pressman family, who own the building currently and are working on a “new project” there. Sure, recently it had become mostly a pay-to-play space, and we knew things were bad when we visited to judge for the Raw Awards and Key Club security tried to make us pay (a couple hundred smackers!) to take pictures. But let's focus on the good times.
See also: Key Club to close
Earlier this week West Coast Sound counted down the five most iconic shows at the venue, but those included performances when it was still Gazzarri's. Two different clubs. So we wanted to focus on Key Club shows, and here are our picks for the best five, four of which we actually attended! RIP Key Club.
May 11, 2000
Sure, 2011's TSOL/Youth Brigade show caused a riot on the Sunset Strip. But a better punk gig was put on by local faves Pennywise, who recorded a raucous live album there back in 2000, which immortalized the venue and became an important part of the band's catalog.
4. Roots Jam
January 23, 2010
A few days before Mos Def's solo show at Key Club he performed there with The Roots, vintage mic in hand. It was the sixth annual Roots Jam, which kicked off the new ownership at Key Club during Grammy week in 2010. Mos was on fire, while Questlove rarely left the drum kit the entire night — which lasted until about 3 am. Estelle, John Legend, Scott Storch, Foreign Exchange, Jay Electronica and Bilal all got on stage too, making for one of The Roots best jams ever.
3. Dime Bash
Friday, Oct. 29, 2010
Six years after the horrific murder of Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, his influence was celebrated with an all-star benefit raising funds for the Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund. The innaugural event saw Lemmy Killmister, Dave Grohl and members of Slayer, Dio, Slipknot, Alice In Chains, Static-X and more. Lemmy giving Key Club love was special too; though he's a regular haunt at the Rainbow, Lemmy doesn't join just any old club jam sesh.
2. The Zodiac Show
A music, dance and theatre performance that celebrated a different astrological sign each month, The Zodiac Show was created by Pussycat Dolls original redhead Carmit Bachar and Lee Cherry. It began at the Hollywood Athletic Club, but it was the Key Club where the show honed its chops, utilizing folks including Monte Pittman (who went on to be Madonna's guitarist) and Adam Lambert. Key Club's upper level was a great place to watch Zodiac, which commanded the stage in an almost Cirque de Soleil-like way.
1. Metal Skool
Now playing House of Blues as Steel Panther, the world's most successful '80s tribute band began as Metal Shop at Viper Room. We believe, however, they were at their hottest during their Key Club reign as Metal Skool. Hosted by celeb wrangler Josh Richman, the band had constant celebrities take the stage with them: Jessica Simpson and Tony Romo, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, Juliette Lewis and Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Jeremy Piven, John Corbett, Kat Von D and members of pretty much every '80s metal band who played in the building when it was Gazzari's.
The masturbatory solos, stripper poles, and big rawk anthems proved a winning combination. Today, the Panther pants on at HOB, but it's more of a tourist attraction. It was the Key Club where the biggest heads banged with the band at their baddest, and which most of us will remember as the best nights the club has ever seen.
Below: More Metal Skool videos and our honorable mentions
Honorable mentions: Fishbone and Trulio Disgracias, Rage Against The Machine, Petty Cash, Don Ho, The Game and Travis Barker, The Network (aka Green Day), Fear, Marilyn Manson, Snoop Dogg, System of A Down, dance events including Ruby Tuesdays and Bondage Ball. Oh, and the time we DJ'd Rob Zombie's birthday party and all he wanted to hear all night was disco.