erasing clouds

An Evening At the Whiskey

by Heather Tylock

If the Church of Popular Culture had a temple, it would be the Whiskey-a-Go-Go in LA. The ancient venue stands as a watchtower, daft and pseudo-trendy, with a supposed element of music history that evokes irreverent memories of high school. An everlasting reminder of how cool we thought everything was until we experienced it for ourselves.

Ok, so maybe that's a little harsh. But it's how I felt, standing on the corner of Sunset and whatever, under the Dairy Queen type awning displaying the names of suppliant bands prepared to sacrifice their souls for the chance at stardom.

The Whiskey sits in the Hollywood hills like a jewel in the Sunset crown. There it is as you drive down the strip, with it's hot pink neon sign hovering over each retiring band as it loads it's gear into whatever double parked vehicle it can afford to tour around in. Patrons of all ages, and toxicities come in and out its side-door type entrance. Smoke whips up from outcast cigarettes, as groups of banished huddle together against the wind sweeping the hillside.

It's a dive bar. You walk in past the bouncer and into the open. There's a bar straight ahead, dingy bathrooms to the right of the bar, a good size stage in the southeast corner, and an L-shaped mezzanine that extends over the entrance and the bar. The flooring is crap and the water is 2 bucks for a 16 ouncer, I didn't even bother pricing the beer.

The line up usually includes five or six bands. Most of which have paid to have their spot. I'm not sure if that's the way it was done in the old days, but typically the suppliants offer up about $500, which is returned to the band in the form of ten dollar-a-pop-tickets. So, if you can get fifty of your closest to attend, you've got it covered.

I made it in for two sets, one metal and one folk-y. The sound was ok, but one could see that the sixteen-something crowd was definitely more attuned to the metal. Although, the teeny-boppers did give it up for the more mellow sounds by forming the first slow-motion moshpit I've ever seen.

The Whiskey has its history, but that's about it. It's an over-priced dive bar that plays on the hopes and dreams of the musician, forever whispering promise without deliverance. And in a industry where 'getting signed' does not equal 'getting rich', this archaic temple stands as nothing more than a reflection of corporate greed.


Issue 12, January 2003 | next article

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