Open for Industry: How SoCal Venues Survived the Pandemic

Open for Industry: In March 2011, we printed a canopy tale in the midst of the pandemic that requested the query, “Can our phases be stored?”

The pandemic isn’t precisely over, but it surely’s surely appearing indicators of slowing down. The vast majority of the general public is vaccinated and, even if case numbers were surging fairly, hospitalization and loss of life counts stay solid. Reside song has been again up and operating for months now, with covering and obligatory vaccination necessities slowly going away. How sensible this is stays an issue for debate – maximum well being execs nonetheless advise covering in indoor areas.

However the solution to our query, for probably the most section, seems to be “Sure.” Our phases have been in large part stored. However Jesus, it used to be shut.

L.A.’s Lodge Cafe began existence as a small espresso store in 2000, but it surely has now been internet hosting are living song for over two decades. Over the last twenty years, it has noticed roughly 25,000 performances in entrance of over one million fanatics. Names as prestigious and common as Adele, Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, the Lumineers, Gary Clark Jr., Katy Perry, Sara Bareilles, Bruno Mars, Haima, and Lord Huron have carried out on certainly one of its two phases.

(Gia Hughes)

“Probably the most easiest displays on the venue have been ones that all of a sudden blew us away, in addition to some memorable secret displays and underplays,” mentioned Marko Shafer of the Lodge Cafe. “I regularly suppose again to seeing Hozier’s show off for most commonly business folks, sooner than he used to be a family identify, and I left that display realizing he’d be a celebrity. Internet hosting Chris Martin for an unannounced solo display additionally used to be as particular because it will get. What grew to become out to be Mac Millers final display used to be bittersweet, however one thing the ones within the room will have in mind eternally. Ludovico Einaudi crushing a grand piano on our level is one the oldsters within the room additionally will have in mind for a very long time. As soon as, someday round 2004 or 2005, somebody who known as themselves Weezer’s supervisor reached out by means of telephone. We didn’t relatively imagine it, because it used to be the primary larger identify to invite to play the room. After they in truth confirmed up for soundcheck the afternoon of the display, all of us were given lovely excited. In fact the display used to be wonderful. Oh, and Dave Chappelle has had some epic nights lately.”

In order that’s the pedigree of a venue that has a capability of 200 in the primary room and a modest 75 in the second one level’s room. The Lodge Cafe is a longtime, cherished impartial venue, and COVID driven it to the threshold.

“The pandemic used to be extraordinarily difficult – financially, morally and spiritually,” Shafer says. “There have been occasions that we in truth didn’t know if we’d make it. However with the improve of Lodge Cafe artists, fanatics and buddies, in addition to NIVA’s advocacy, we made it. And we really feel the affection greater than ever now.”

Monchat Doma at Lawn Amp (Jess Rodriguez)

Sure, the intervention of NIVA (the Nationwide Unbiased Venues Affiliation) used to be necessary to the survival of many venues. It used to be they who despatched a letter to Congress: “The Nationwide Unbiased Venue Affiliation (NIVA), whose participants, staff, artists and native communities are going through an existential disaster because of the COVID-19 pandemic, are in pressing want of centered legislative and regulatory help.”

They gained that help within the type of the Shuttered Venue Operator Grant, in the past known as “Save Our Levels,” which handed with bipartisan improve in December 2020. Issues are higher now, however nonetheless now not “standard,” in step with Shafer of the Lodge Cafe.

“Issues are nonetheless very up and down for many impartial venues” Shafer says. “Cancellations as a result of COVID are commonplace. A lot of our buyers are nonetheless hesitant about packing right into a small area with 200 other folks. We’re staying hopeful, on the other hand, and issues are for sure stabilizing and beginning to glance up. It seems like fall would be the actual check, as many artists get ready to hit the street for the primary large traveling season since COVID.”


The Lawn Amp in Lawn Grove, Orange County, used to be known as Pageant Amphitheatre sooner than it used to be taken over via new control, LFA, in mid 2017. It used to be basically used as a venue throughout Lawn Grove’s town’s match Strawberry Pageant throughout Memorial Weekend or Shakespeare within the Park throughout the summer season. But even so its “Locker Room” level, it’s an outside venue, however nonetheless, it suffered.

“Lawn Amp used to be totally closed down throughout the pandemic, however we attempted experimenting with different displays,” says Anrea Santos. “We did a drive-in live performance on the Fort Retailers, which used to be an ideal turnout. We even attempted a livestream live performance with native bands. We additionally had a offered out display with Anthony Inexperienced at Oak Canyon Park in June 2021, proper when are living occasions have been beginning to come again. But if we opened Lawn Amp once more, our first couple displays offered out right away. Other people have been able for are living song once more. Large Thief used to be our first display after which Turnstile final yr in August 2021.”

The Whisky A-Pass-Pass is synonymous with rock & roll at the Sundown Strip. It’s been internet hosting the largest names in song for the reason that ‘60s, and it’s displayed exceptional endurance in sticking round. Nonetheless, COVID examined it to the fullest.

“[It was the] maximum difficult factor I’ve ever needed to care for,” says proprietor Mikael Maglieri Jr. “I didn’t live on – I’m just a little lifeless within. This fight will proceed for a very long time. After running for over 50 years, to simply be close down for over two years in point of fact harm us. We’re making an attempt [to come out of it]. It’s nearly like a brand new get started. The whole thing we constructed used to be torn away and it’s like we’re beginning contemporary. A minimum of we’ve our historical past.”

Alex’s Bar in Lengthy Seaside used to be bought in 1998 and opened on Jan. 27, 2000. They’ve been open ever since, with the most obvious exception of the pandemic.

“It used to be extraordinarily tricky,” says proprietor Alex Hernandez. “I’m nonetheless in treatment making an attempt to deal with the emotional rollercoaster it introduced to our circle of relatives, in addition to our personnel. Fortunately the neighborhood stepped up large time and helped us live on the pandemic. There is not any approach we might nonetheless be right here with out the entire love Lengthy Seaside confirmed up. They bought alcohol to-go, shirts, printed a espresso desk e book via John Mair, began a GoFundMe – the listing is going on.”

Hernandez says that Alex’s Bar is appearing indicators of existence once more.

“We’ve noticed some wonderful enthusiasm from the general public who have been so keen to come back again and spot are living song, their buddies, and their neighborhood once more,” he says. “I’m nonetheless seeing a large number of buddies for the primary time, whilst of this week, who’re simply now venturing out again into the sector.”


It is a survival tale. The pandemic examined everybody to our absolute limits, and folks died. Many, many companies needed to shut their doorways. It’s been an absolute nightmare, and no clever individual ever puzzled the need to put are living song on grasp for some time. However that doesn’t exchange the truth that trade homeowners and staff suffered as a result of it. So the massive query is, if one thing like this used to be to occur once more, would venues be higher ready? Critiques are blended.

“I feel it’s tricky in our business to be ready for one thing like that, however we might live on,” says Shafer of Lodge Cafe.

Maglieri thinks in a different way. “No, by no means,” he says. “The price to simply care for a development on Sundown is astronomical and without a cash coming in, it’s inconceivable.”

Hernandez is of the same opinion. “Not anything can get ready you for an unsure closure and even the loss of keep an eye on you may have over your personal trade,” he says. “I am hoping it by no means occurs once more. It’s now not for the faint of middle.”

Obviously, this has been tough however once more, fortunately, the vast majority of the area’s venues discovered a strategy to live on. And that’s a blessing that shouldn’t be taken without any consideration – by no means, ever put out of your mind how essential those areas are.

“The artists and fanatics are what make an ideal song venue,” says Shafer. “It’s essential to have a tradition of kindness and lodging — our personnel is composed of the most productive individuals who actually care about making your enjoy a memorable one. But it surely’s additionally essential to have a tradition of song discovery and neighborhood. You’ll be able to come to the Lodge Cafe any night time of the week and both run into buddies or find a new artist you didn’t know of sooner than. It’s our activity to create and foster a neighborhood folks stay short of to come back again to. And we predict that’s why such a lot of artists come again through the years.”

We thanks, all of you, for that.

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Lodge Cafe (Gia Hughes)

Open for Industry

Updated: July 14, 2022 — 1:08 pm