Sunday, January 19

LA music venues offer variety and respite from routine student life

(Kaley Powers/Daily Bruin)

Best Performers: Observatory OC Best Acoustics: Hollywood Palladium Best Atmosphere: The Smell Best Food: Greek Theatre Best Price: The Regent Best Parking: Observatory OC

Nothing breaks up the monotony of classes, work and endless reading assignments quite like an uninhibited night out. With winter quarter just beginning, local concerts offer an escape from impending weeks of studying and procrastinating. Daily Bruin A&E reviews concert locales around Los Angeles to help students choose a music venue.


Hollywood Palladium

6215 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028

4.5 paws

It’s hard to miss the Hollywood Palladium’s glimmering marquee, both on social media and in real life. A new name graces the illuminated sign each night; the Palladium has hosted diverse acts from rappers Die Antwoord and Ty Dolla $ign to punk rockers The Descendents.

The Palladium sits along bustling Sunset Boulevard, a hub of restaurants and clubs for those who want to grab some food before a show or continue to explore Hollywood’s nightlife post-concert.

[Related: Concert review: Green Day at the Hollywood Palladium]

The venue is a decent size with upper level access, and its generous air conditioning, surprisingly clean bathrooms, sufficient dance floor capacity and excellent acoustics make the Palladium ideal for intimate band performances.

Parking is tricky because valet and street parking lots fill quickly, so the best option is a 25-minute UberPool ride from UCLA costing about $18. Depending on the artist, ticket prices are tolerable – my FIDLAR show in October cost $20.
Pros of the Hollywood Palladium include its location on Sunset Boulevard near shops. Cons include the pricey bar and lack of parking. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

But what will burn a hole in your pockets is the full bar. The weekend is always the go-to time to hit up the Palladium, so expect long lines for expensive drinks after being carded and given a wristband.

[Related: Concert Review: Imagine Dragons at Hollywood Palladium]

A younger crowd frequents the spot, especially students out looking for a good night, so a group of friends can never go wrong with the Palladium for evening festivities.

Greek Theatre

2700 N Vermont Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027

4 paws

Practically around the corner from the Hollywood Palladium is the Greek Theatre, a small outdoor amphitheater nestled in the hills of Los Angeles. Students who appreciate older names in music or more indie genres can have a blast at the Greek, which hosted bands including Young the Giant, Norah Jones and Mac DeMarco in 2016.

The Greek is small in size with only 5,870 seats, but it excels in seat space and acoustics. No matter where you sit, the show will sound fantastic, as the music echoes up throughout the amphitheater and into the open air. Seating is elevated and staggered with large screens on either side of the stage, so the show is visible from all over the venue.

[Related: Concert review: Andy Grammer and Gavin DeGraw]

The open-air amphitheater heightens the experience of live music under the stars with its exposed seating and billowing trees in the background. The communal vibe of an outdoorsy gig heightens the LA night and offers a sensual ambiance. The Greek cultivates a liberating energy where the crowd finds itself shouting songs freely into the night sky.
Pros of the the Greek Theatre include its acoustics. Cons include crowded parking. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

The Greek is located near a residential area, so depending on the musician or band, the volume of the music may be lowered in accordance with the neighborhood’s noise complaints.

The venue also sits next to Griffith Observatory, so prepare to battle the Observatory crowd while parking. A $25 Uber ride to the venue is not bad compared to the minimum $35 fee required to park in the grassy area or to the off-site parking fees, coupled with the $10 shuttle up to the Greek.

The Regent

448 S Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013

3 paws

Downtown Los Angeles offers wild and underground events for those looking to get a little crazy on the weekends. The Regent is a small, general admission spot that features smaller name bands including SALES and Joyce Manor in an atmosphere perpetuated by an intentionally grimy ambiance. The Regent has potential for students interested in cheaply priced indie-alternative shows.

Though only 15 miles away, any trip to downtown is a pain, so UberPool is a must. It’s best to embrace the overall sketchiness of the location given the near constant bustle of the city, as these all add to the venue’s urban charm.
Pros of the Regent include its cheaply priced shows. Cons include its sketchy location. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)


The Regent sits on Main Street, and its always-crowded entrance line can be mistaken for those of many of the clubs that have popped up in the area. However, The Regent appeals to a particularly alternative crowd, with a tightly packed bar and an aggressively lo-fi punk attitude.

[The Quad: How to buy concert tickets]

All the bathrooms are small and filthy, with vintage lewd imagery lining the walls. The disheveled aesthetic flows throughout the venue with junky three-color lighting rigs, distorted acoustics at harsh volumes and energetic crowds of 20-something-year-old punks.

The theater is worn down and lacks any effective air conditioning, so be ready for the musty heat of a tightly packed standing room. Be prepared to join in on the hectic and liberating thrashing of anonymous bodies.

The Forum

3900 W Manchester Blvd, Inglewood, CA 90305

2.5 paws

The 17,505-seat Forum boasts a big venue and even bigger names – everyone from Kanye West to Prince to Blink-182 has performed within the past five years. Just a 25-minute drive down the 405 Freeway, the Forum is a great place for students to head to for an Instagrammable night on the town.

The recently renovated venue provides a nearly 180-degree view of the action thanks to its circular design. Tickets are expensive, with last year’s nosebleed Kanye West stubs going for $120, so the best student option is to sit up in the rafters, which still provide a great viewing experience thanks to massive screens projected on either side of the main stage.
Pros of the Forum include a bigger venue with more than 17,000 seats and big-name acts. The cons include the questionable cleanliness of the venue. (Creative Commons photo by fauxtos via flickr)

But be prepared to step on sticky floors soaked in spilled beer during the steep trek to the elevated seats. Merchandise booths are disorganized. The mediocre refreshments of flavorless Forum Burgers, dull Pink’s hot dogs and modest drinks are expensive. And the oblong parking lot is a nightmare to leave.

Given the dilapidated standards at the venue and pricey tickets, the Forum is best reserved for a last-resort location. The venue is more about a quick trip with friends to see a great performer rather than the actual condition of the location.

Its music is loud, the drinks are strong and the visuals are clear, but don’t expect the Forum itself to be mind-blowing.

The Smell

247 S Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012

4 paws

For those interested in Los Angeles’ faltering punk scene, there are only so many months to enjoy the punk paradise that is the Smell.

Despite admirable attempts to save the Smell, this iconic do-it-yourself punk venue faces an impending relocation to a currently unknown home.

Until then, students need to experience the Smell.

[Throwback: What’s that smell?: Club reopens after fire code stink]

Ubering is recommended, as the venue is in Downtown LA with little parking, and should cost no more than $15 each way.

The Smell is a narrow, red-brick box that’s perfect for sweaty mosh pits and gruelingly loud bands. The assumed front of the venue is covered in a mural, while the entrance is actually a sketchy alleyway opposite to the street. Here, concert-goers meet the rough and ready crowd of grubby Burger Records teens, Danger Collective frequenters and the normcore youth.
Pros of the Smell include its grungy community atmosphere. Cons include the grime that makes up the atmosphere. (Miriam Bribiesca/Photo editor)

Yes, the place smells and so does its crowd. Expect small up-and-coming local bands and the occasional bigger name, like Best Coast or WAVVES, with plenty of technical difficulties and musical mess-ups – but that’s all part of the Smell’s charm.

The bathrooms are notoriously graffitied and stickered by attendants. Tickets start at a modest $5, and as a drug and alcohol-free venue, there’s no need for checking ID’s. While some kids will attempt to sneak in substances of their choice, security is lax and a real sense of community encourages an adherence to rules.

Though it’s a dry venue, the Smell remains one of the most energetic and enduring in the LA punk landscape. Concert-goers can drop off, read and purchase homemade zines on grungy couches and tattered chairs in the reading section across from the vegan snack bar.

UCLA students should definitely step out of their comfort zones and check out bands like N A P S, BOYO and Current Joys throughout January while the Smell still stands.

The Observatory OC

3503 S Harbor Blvd, Santa Ana, CA 92704

3.5 paws

The Observatory technically falls in the Orange County area, but in the past three years, it has become one of the hottest spots in music for LA residents.

Bruins can take a few days off for a weekend trip to Santa Ana to justify the hour-long drive and take full advantage of the venue.

The Observatory is ideal simply because it hosts seemingly every artist and genre for wildly cheap prices. Kid Cudi, Tyler the Creator, the Neighbourhood, No Parents and Jimmy Eat World have all graced the stage. Metro Boomin frequents the Constellation Room with $15 tickets. The Observatory also manages festivals, making Beach Goth, Soulquarius and One Love Cali Fest must-sees in the Orange County area.
Pros of the Observatory include its wide array of performances for cheap prices. Cons include the hour drive it takes to attend a show there. (Creative Commons photo by Justin Higuchi via Wikimedia)

There are two venues: The main Observatory hall and the Constellation Room. The Observatory holds about 500 people comfortably, but the vendors do their best to jam the place past capacity. The Constellation Room is concerningly old with a layered standing room and a pit.

Each venue inexplicably sits in an unmarked corporate area with simple parking. It’s easy to catch a glimpse of musicians entering the venue and hear a sound check while waiting in the long lines.

Deep purple lighting and a smoke machine dangerously obscure steps, and the humidity from all the bodies crammed into the intimate venue will drench patrons with sweat within minutes.

The music throbs in the Observatory, energizing hectic crowds. Multiple modest bar setups and especially clean bathrooms provide some breathing room when you need to back off of the sweaty audience.

The Echoplex

1154 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026

4 paws

The Echoplex is like a watering hole for concert-goers everywhere, where previously untapped music lifestyles and aesthetics coexist peacefully in the musical circle of life.

The Echoplex, entered through its parent venue The Echo, is a microcosm of the wondrously assorted communities of Los Angeles.

The venue itself is spacious yet intimate, respectably clean and keen on entertaining a bevy of niche audiences.

[Throwback: Eclectic bands to play the Echoplex]

Only at the Echoplex can concert-goers experience a diverse lineup of Dub Club reggae night, a Deafheaven metal concert and a David Bowie night in just one week.

The Echoplex cultivates a consistent fan base by hosting weekly events that draw in younger crowds of mostly students. Make sure to check for age restrictions before buying a ticket, though, as most of the events are strictly 21+.

Arrive at least 1.5 hours before doors open, since the lines move dreadfully slow as security tries to ward off minors pleading for entry.

[Related: Concert review: The Naked and Famous, Unknown Mortal Orchestra perform disjointed sets at Echoplex]

The Echoplex also offers smoking patios to socialize, a full bar that serves overpriced but stiff drinks and nostalgic DJ sets to match each night’s musical genre, with evenings offering a different musical selection ranging from decade hits to subculture favorites. The dark club atmosphere and adherence to genre themes induce an open space of nonjudgmental, uninhibited belting to angsty jams.

The Echoplex is ideal for reliving childhood favorites with a big group of friends. Whether students are there to hit up 143 R&B night or a Smiths and Morrissey night, the Echoplex is where it’s at.

Los Angeles concert venues captivate students from all discerning tastes in music. The Forum is unfortunate in its inferior foods and cruelly disorganized parking, while the Echoplex scores major points for its various musical selections. The Greek’s bathrooms are the best in the city, whereas the Observatory’s Constellation Room lacks breathing room. While it may take more than a quarter to explore what the city has to offer, it’s never a bad idea to get started early.

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