Lesser-known clubs are all over Los Angeles, with new venues opening at a steady clip. Read on to find out where.
By Teena Apeles, adapted from The Sounds of Los Angeles from the April 2017 issue of WHERE Los Angeles Magazine
The Roxy, the Troubadour, the Wiltern and the El Rey Theatre are among the myriad historic L.A. concert venues still thriving today, but great, lesser-known clubs are all over the city, with new venues opening at a steady clip. This ever-changing music landscape makes LA a paradise for performers and music fans alike, with upward of 50 music shows taking place on any given night. What sets one club apart from the others in a metropolis of this size? Where should you check out local and up-and-coming bands this month? Let’s take a tour.
Our first stop is on Beverly Boulevard in West Hollywood, where the H.Wood Group has partnered with Interscope Records to create the Peppermint Club. Since its opening in mid-January, the ’60s-inspired lounge has welcomed the likes of Usher, blues artist SaRon Crenshaw, songwriter Skylar Grey and the soulful Aloe Blacc to its stage. The place feels more like someone’s swank living room than a club, and that’s the intention, with a cutting-edge sound system fitting for music royalty, such as recent guest Lady Gaga. 8713 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, 424.335.0575. peppermintclub.com
Farther east on Beverly is the Bootleg Theater, which has three performance spaces: a bar stage, large open room and sizable theater with seating. The theater has played host not only to musicians, but also to writers, actors, dancers and comedians. Prince (not long before his death) watched his former guitarist Andy Allo perform here, and actor John C. Reilly has also visited, attracted by the diverse artists the Bootleg presents, including director and composer John Carpenter and dance-pop songstress Gavin Turek. “I like booking artists who I can continue to work with 10 years down the road,” notes booker Kyle Wilkerson. “I like continuing to develop relationships and see artists grow—and to help them with that.” Wilkerson presents practically every genre of music at the Bootleg, which he describes as having “a homey vibe, very inviting and warm—not a typical black-box rock club.” So come as you are. 2220 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 213.389.3856. bootlegtheater.org
In the neighboring Westlake area is the 600-capacity Teragram Ballroom, named after owner Michael Swier’s late wife, Margaret (spelled backward). Formerly a silent-movie theater, the Teragram has become a favorite venue for high-profile artists such as Spoon and Chris Martin of Coldplay. “Their sensibilities are keenly attuned to ours,” says KCSN 88.5 music director Sky Daniels. “They will, like us, show the up-and-coming new acts that are starting to really break, and they also pay respect to the career artists.” As for the vibe: You won’t hear “a bunch of clinking at the bar and people talking over the bands,” Daniels says. “They’re going to listen and absorb the show.” 1234 W. 7th St., L.A., 213.689.9100. teragramballroom.com
Next, we head to Silver Lake’s Satellite, in the former Dreams space made famous by Spaceland, the mecca for independent local artists in the day. J-Matt Greenberg of instrumental “post-rock” band Whale Fall likes its “large stage, top-notch sound system, friendly and helpful staff and, most importantly, attentive and appreciative audiences,” he says. “The Satellite’s taste and selectivity means you can take a chance on a show and expect to like what you hear.” 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., L.A., 323.661.4380. thesatellitela.com
The Echo and Echoplex
In adjacent Echo Park is the two-club venue the Echo and Echoplex, from the team behind Spaceland (which also books the Regent Theater and First Fridays at Natural History Museum). The heart of the L.A. music scene “begins and ends” with the venue, says KCSN’s Daniels. “That place is a bastion of career development; so many people go there”—even the Rolling Stones, LCD Soundsystem and Beck. Part of the appeal is the venue’s mix of acts, as well as its intimate size—especially the smaller Echo upstairs, where the performances listed below take place. 1822 Sunset Blvd. and 1154 Glendale Blvd., L.A., 213.413.8200. theecho.com
Next, we venture downtown to the Resident in the Arts District. Seasoned talent buyer Duncan Smith, who books a range of rock acts, takes pride in its space and vibe. “The cozy feeling of hanging here extends from the ambiance and music to the drinks and food,” he says. The venue itself fits about 200, while the outdoor patio/beer garden, featuring the Kitchn food truck and a Spartan trailer coach–housed bar, fits 300. “We have a lot of love for the sticky-floor dive, but saw a chance to build something different: a small venue with an eye for craft. We have a drink with a gummy worm in it. How fun is that?” 428 S. Hewitt St., downtown,
The Hi Hat
We close our club tour in the vibrant neighborhood of Highland Park, at LA Weekly’s 2016 pick for Best New Music Venue, the Hi Hat, a sizable space at 4,000 square feet, with a sideways-oriented stage, bow-truss ceilings and exposed brick walls. Like many fellow small clubs, one of the Hi Hat’s primary goals is “to nurture local bands and be a part of the community,” says booker Britt Witt. Count singer-songwriter Ty Segall among its fans; he considers the venue’s sound—as well as its staff—exceptional. 5043 York Blvd., L.A., 323.761.0486. hihat.la