The L.A. rock community was rattled and ranting louder than usual yesterday on social media, when it was announced that the live music side of Hollywood rock bar Loaded would be closing for good end of next month due to rent increases. (The bar side will remain open.)
I've written about Loaded Hollywood, well, loads, even crowning it one of the best bars for live music a couple of years ago. I've also deejayed there a few times, playing metal and punk for its rowdy and rockin' regulars on both the bar side and the live music side of the venue. Formerly a grimy dive called Tiny's on Hollywood Boulevard, Loaded, which opened in 2010, might have taken a while to find its swagger, but once it did, it became the go-to rocker bar in Hollywood.
A lot of the punk peeps who frequented Tiny's (which was co-owned by Greg Hetson of Bad Religion) were initially put off by Loaded's over-the-top decor, which included stacks of amps on the back wall, Jack Daniels chandeliers, and blown up pics of wasted rock stars. But thanks to the locale, the cool, tattooed bartenders, great DJs (if I do say so) and then, the game-changing adjacent room they added in 2013 to showcase live music, it all changed. That room played host to some amazing performances from bands big and small, including everyone from Shooter Jennings (including a guest duet with Marilyn Manson) to Boots Electric to Huntress to The Joneses to The Glam Skanks.
Like the Cat & Fiddle not far away on Sunset, Loaded's music venue doesn't want to go, but they have no choice. Their landlord won't budge on the rent hikes. “It's pretty much doubled since I started,” general manager Fran DeAngelo told us over the phone today. “With all these hotels coming into the area, it's hurting the smaller businesses and artists who want share their craft. The live music scene in Hollywood was coming back strong for a while with us, Hemingway's, Hotel Cafe and Piano Bar, but it's not going to continue like this.”
DeAngelo says the room showcased live sounds six or seven nights a week, giving over 100 bands a month a place to play. Though they booked a diverse array of music, it was the heavy stuff that Loaded became known for. “We have a huge sound system, so metal and punk just sounded really good in there,” says DeAngelo, himself a musician with the band The Dirges. “It was nice to see these types of bands in a small room, an intimate setting.”
Loaded, whose owners include proprietors at the Cahuenga sports bar Big Wangs, are open to finding a new space for live music if the rent is right, says DeAngelo, so there is a possibility the rock will reign at Loaded once again in a new locale. In the meantime, they are open to booking and promoting pop-up shows and they are still rocking at the original spot til the last Sunday of February, featuring bands who've been loyal to the space over the past few years. This Saturday, they have a big one too: Joey Balls' Birthday Bash with Old Man Markley, Madcap, Blue Colar Special, Wild Roses and The Briggs.
Rock & roll and heavy music in general has gotten a bum wrap lately. It rarely makes the music charts and even locally, it's ironic indie groups, hip-hop crews and DJs who get the most attention and ink, even in publications like this one. Rock & roll and punk rock are in many ways music styles the millennials are rebelling against — or at least that's how it might seem.
But if you go out and check out bands frequently, you know rock is alive in Los Angeles and in cities and suburbs across America, even if we don't see it on TV or hear it on the radio. There are always rebellious new kids who'll continue to see the appeal of leather pants, whiskey stupors and in-your face stage shows. It's the reason Lemmy's death has been such a big deal for the zeitgeist, why Motley Crue were able to sell out Staples Center 35 years after they started and Guns N' Roses can headline Coachella. L.A. is losing one more music venue that showcased this kind of ballsy rawk, from which the next GNR or Motley might have emerged, and that's a damn shame.
Here's what general manager DeAngelo posted last night about the closure on Loaded Hollywood's Facebook page:
To the good people of Loaded and the constituency of Los Angeles,
We regret to inform you that our beloved music venue at Loaded will have to be closed down by the end of February. A decision made for us by the rising cost of rent and the refusal of the landlord to work with us to help us give the artist ,of which this town was built on, a platform to fulfill their dreams.
Although we bring to you this letter with a heavy heart, we are excited that we will be able to keep the bar side open and running. We are also excited about some upgrades we will be able to do using the parts of the scuttled ship. We will be able to upgrade the sound system and put in a new jukebox. We will be creating a great new menu for everyone and much more.
We would like to thank the employees, patrons, bookers, promoters and artists for giving us an exciting few years and contributing to amazing shows and times here at Loaded, and we hope to continue seeing everyone at the bar. I, for one, have enjoyed every minute of working with you all.
If the cards are dealt to us and we can continue our love for live music in another brick and mortar spot or as a pop up let us know . We certainly welcome any and all ideas.
We also have some dates open between now and the time we close, so please email me if you would like to play and give Loaded Live a proper send off.
“Welcome, O life I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race”
With All Sincerity,