West LA. For many of us concert-goers living in Los Angeles, west of the 405 has been a scarcely visited live music destination. It used to be that West LA was the destination for Saturday’s at the beach, or the part of town where young professionals would live to get away from the raucousness of Hollywood and traffic of downtown in exchange for a slower lifestyle and a lot of sunshine and sand. Over the past year though, things have started to change when it comes to entertainment on this side of town. No, they didn’t build any new music venues and the residents didn’t just start listening to rad music- they’ve been doing that for years. The artists and managers just finally realized there is a viable concert-going crowd here who has money in their pockets to spend, and that’s a good thing.
The Westside has always been keen to live music, concerts and boozing it up while getting down, but for decades no one paid attention. There’s no doubt that the rise of hair metal bands in the 80s on the Sunset Strip, and the multitude of historic venues in Hollywood have shaped the history and landscape of live music in Los Angeles. The world’s greatest stage and playground for live music was, and still is, in Hollywood and the areas in close proximity. But the 2000s have also seen the rise of another part of town to the top of the live music scene. With artists looking for cheap rent and a counter-culture environment to nurture creativity outside of the high prices and high heels of Hollywood, musicians flocked to Echo Park and the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. For the price of a 1 bedroom in Hollywood, a two bedroom with enough room for a small studio could be had a few miles east and a few miles north. So the musicians moved there and lived there, leading them to logically play there very often. Today, Echo Park and Silverlake host the greatest concentration of indie, underground, and diverse live music shows anywhere in LA.
While live music expanded east and north from it’s Hollywood home, the Westside was largely ignored. This trend has continued for most of the 2000s, but a shift is occurring and its happening right now. Last year, mega promoters Goldenvoice celebrated their 30th Anniversary with a weekend collection of Los Angeles’ greatest punk bands playing over three days. A show that would have sold out anywhere, the powers that be at Goldenvoice selected the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium as the site for their blowout. A surprising choice at first, but when you dig a little deeper it made perfect sense. Firstly, it was a sign that the Santa Monica Civic was playing nice with promoters and offering a sweet deal somewhere in the negotiations- sweeter than what they were getting at other venues across LA. Simply put, promoters in the music business don’t take deals that make them less money. They are in this for the bottom line, not the bass line. Secondly, it represented an awareness from the music industry that the Westside was a viable market. Unlike the residents of Echo Park and Silverlake who are looking to reduce costs at every corner, those on the Westside expect to pay more for the simple things, and that includes entertainment. There are no two-for-one bars on the Westside, and a $50 concert ticket isn’t offensive to its residents. Thirdly, it represented a calculated risk that the rest of LA, who have always had the best of live music in their backyard, would be willing to get in their cars and travel to the Westside for a concert. The result- a sold out three day show that saw people willingly drive from all over Los Angeles with smiles on their faces to the Westside. It wasn’t a case of build it and they will come, because the venues were already there- it was book it and they will come.
This was a big win for live music west of the 405 and concert promoter Goldenvoice. It was also a win for the artists and bands, who realized that there was an untapped market of concert-goers in Los Angeles who had been ignored for many years. What promoters and mangers didn’t realize all this time was that West LAers were going to concerts and spending money in this part of town for years. In fact, your friends at Rabbits Black throw concerts on the Westside all the time. The 28th year of the Twilight Concert Series on the Santa Monica Pier and beach has represented this vibrant music culture for almost three decades. The question left to answer was if this young professional and slightly older crowd was listening and interested in the same type of music that everyone else in LA was. The answer was and is yes. Just take a look below…
West LA September concert calendar:
Santa Monica Pier:
9/6 – Best Coast w/ NO
Santa Monica Civic:
9/13 – Silversun Pickups
9/6, 9/13, 9/20 – Versus
9/29 – Balam Acab Wake
Live music nightly or weekly:
O’Briens on Main St: Free live music every night
Harvelle’s Blues Club: Concert calendar
TRiP: Concert calendar