ROCK AROUND THE TOWN ALMOST EVERY NIGHT
by Milt Petty
Daily News photos by Ed Magnus
You've got your $12 concert tickets in your coat pocket, tickets that three weeks ago cost you an hour and a skipped biology class to get. You're off to see one of your favorite bands in an oversized basketball arena. Gas has already cost you $4, now the attendant wants $2 for parking.
So you haul out another couple of bucks, fight the parking lot traffic for a space, and in you go… but not before you've waited in another line and endured an embarrassing skin search, administered by a local wrestler.
Now to find your seats. Let's see: section 26, row ZZ, seats 99 and 100, "Follow that stairway to the top row and turn left," the usher tells you.
That's when you begin to wonder: Is rock 'n' roll really worth all that effort?
And that's when you start looking for alternatives.
Lucky for you, Los Angeles has a lot to offer in the form of nightclubs. You may not see Led Zeppelin or the Stones, but chances are the band will be fair to good, admission reasonable, drinks no more costly than at a concert and you'll actually be able. to see the players (usually within hook shot range).
With the advent of the less-is-more ethic, and since it takes so much money to put a band into a tourful of concert halls, clubs are attracting even the most successful bands.
Just as the new rock bands, circa 1976, took time to develop, so has the ever-expanding club scene that gives these artists a chance to play.
And just as bands have come and gone, sometimes before you can memorize which has a nearsighted singer and has a left-handed guitarist, the clubs change formats faster than you can say Whiskey Alexander…
Not too long ago local rock
bands were hard up for play space and the L.A. rock scene was
discombobulated at best. If a band wasn't sufficiently established
to rate a date at the Roxy it could easily get
discouraged. The Whisky A-Go-Go,
Starwood and Troubadour were about the only rock nightclubs and even they weren't doing good business. The once-dominant Troub, in fact, was closed for a while.
But in garages and warehouses across town, performers were experimenting with a new music, a punk-inspired reaction to disco and soft rock.
Some of them booked their own dates. For example, The Nerves, a band comprising players who have since gone on to greater things, found its own places to play and also helped introduce LA. staples such as The Weirdos, The Germs and The Zippers.
By 1977, 26-year-old Brendan Mullen was booking concerts in a place called The Masque, located literally underneath the Pussycat Theatre in Hollywood, offering the first few gigs free and still only able to draw maybe 50 people. That house closed that same year (a result of police and fire department pressure), so Mullen booked shows at the Other Masque near Santa Monica and Vine.
That one fared much better and suddenly Mullen was a trend-setter.
under the direction of successful concert promoter David Forrest,
began to book these new rock acts. The Roxy had taken over from the
Troubadour as the top rock showcase at the time, but because of
Forrest's daring venture into new rock the Whisky today has
reassumed its position as the L.A. club for new music.
But perhaps the most
significant date in recent L.A. rock club history came in
October 1978. That's when Esther and George Wong, owners and
operators of Madame Wong's chinese restaurant in Chinatown, dropped its Polynesian entertainment and began booking new wave acts.
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"Rock Around Town..."
Jefferson Blvd., Culver City: It's located next to a bowling alley
across the street from the San Diego Freeway. Again, you must climb
stairs to a big room with concrete-block walls. The bandstand is
kitty-corner to the makeshift bar. Live music is featured three
nights a week. The place has more room than most, but go there only
if it's your only chance to see your favorite band. This is one
nightclub that makes you wonder if rock is indeed worthwhile.
Official seating capacity is 250, but. . .
STARWOOD, 8151 Santa
Monica Blvd., Hollywood: An innovative club for those who like to
"make the scene" and be seen. It has two bars, one upstairs in an
off-limits, pseudo-celebrity area, and another in a room behind the
bandstand. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays there are two
happenings going on simultaneously. The back room is a rock disco
featuring local street personalities Phast Phreddie and Rodney
Bingenheimer. There is a two-drink minimum if you want to sit at the
tables, and unlike at most other clubs, the rule is enforced. The
club has long drawn the ire of local residents and for good reason.
For the hardcore only.
A-GO-GO, 890 1
Sunset Blvd., Hollywood: Sound improvements have recently been made
here at the number one rock club in town. If the act requests It,
tables and chairs are removed in the forecourt and beer is served in
paper cups. Its name is its biggest selling point. Books the biggest
beginning rock acts, the unsigned and signed.
ROXY, 9009 Sunset
Blvd., Hollywood: The premier middle-of-the-road pop music club.
It will book the new rock acts when their time is right. More expensive and more tasteful.
|BLACKIES, 607 N. La Brea
Ave., Hollywood: It's dark in Blackies. Even the stage is painted
black in this this long and narrow club where there is lots of
danc!ng. This club, booked by Jan Ballard, has drawn the ire of
nearby residents and some say the result has been harassment by
police. On at least three occasions the LAPD closed the club and
arrested the management and those band members unfortunate enough to be playing at the scene of a bust. There is music seven nights a week
at here, LA.'s only after-hours (2 a.m.) rock club. You have to be
21 to gain admission here. Warning: not for the sensitive.
BOOGIE PALACE , located at . the corner of Santa Monica and
La Cienega boulevards, Hollywood: Flipper's, which used to be just
a roller rink and before that a bowling alley, now offers live
new rock acts three nights a week. If you're not a member of
this private club, admission is $5 on new wave Tuesdays and $10
on mainstream rock Thursdays. If you're into skating you can do that
as well for an extra two bucks. There are two bar facilities. Fast
food is available.
|GAZZARI'S, 9309 Sunset
Blvd., Hollywood: This is the oldest rock club on the strip, now in
its 20th year. Local, unsigned mainstream bands are featured, and
the clientele here is mostly in their late teens.
Harbor Drive, Redondo Beach: This club, located across from King
Harbor, is hard to get to but worth the effort. It recently enlarged
its facilities to make for comfortable seating with good views of
the stage. Booking by manager Richard Stacy is among the most
imaginative of the LA. club scene, and ranges from country acts and
new wave to blues and R&B. Cover price is reasonable. You must
be 21, and only beer and wine are served. A pleasant club, it is
|VALLEY WEST, 19657 Ventura Blvd (at Corbin), Tarzana.|
|BLUE LAGUNE SALOON, 4080 Lincoln Blvd, Marina Del Rey. A rock club with a dance floor and great party atmosphere.
Wine and beer.|
Pool tables, $3-$5.
|CATHAY DE GRANDE, 1600 N. Argyle Ave (at Selma), Hollywood. Underground nightclub with upstairs bar. Monday - "Blue Monday" night - features blues and soul bands. Streetlevel presents jazz from 6-8p.m. (HappyHour) every Wed. & Thurs. Hal Negro provides coctail music from 7 to 9 p.m. Fri. Normal cover charge, $5. Doors open at 9 p.m.; first shows begin at 10 p.m.|
|CLUB 88, 11784 Pico Blvd, West Los Angeles. A rock showcase with the funky elegance of an old striptease joint - which it used to be, shows from 9:30 p.m., four sets cover varies; 21 and over.|
|MADAME WONGS CHINATOWN, 949 Sun Mun Way, Broadway Gate in Chinatown.|
|MADAME WONGS WEST, 2900 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica|
|THE CENTRAL, 8852 Sunset Blvd, Featuring a variety of music, and on Tues., "Bob and Keith's Jam," which often includes some famous, unannounced musicians. Open util 2a.m.; $3-$5, Jam Night has a $1 cover charge.|
|FILTHY MCNASTIES, 11702 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood. This raucous and popular club features a variety of entertainment, including Filthy McNasty and his all-girl band on the weekends. On Friday and Saturday, there's after-hour action until 4 a.m.|
|PERKINS PALACE, 129 N. Raymond, Pasadena. A reformed movie theatre in old Pasadena, with ornate balconies and giant staircases. They are now bringing in varied rock music acts.|
|PIER 52, 52 Pier Ave, on the Hermosa strand, this is a
beautifully lit club, with skylights, new carpets, a good P.A., and an
excellent light system. The club holds about 240 people. Admission varies
from $2-$4. Shows start at 9 p.m. Full bar; 21 and over.|
|POOKIES OLD TOWN CONCERT HALL, 34 E. Holly St., Pasadena, across the street from Perkins
Palace. Rock n'roll in a comfortable, funky wherehouse-like atmosphere with
a spacious dancefloor and lots of seating. Beer, wine and food. Open Thurs.
- Fri., 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission varies|
|SASCH, 11345 Ventura Blvd.,
Studio City, a nightspot that describes itself as L.A.'s most sophisticated
nightclub. Live music Tues., Wed., and Sun. Top 40 dancing to the group
Ecstasy is featured Thurs. - Sat. The club offers a full bar, plus backgammon
and video games. A place for upwardly mobile singles and fashionable attire
is required; $3 covercharge, shows begin at 9 p.m.|