The Troubadour stage has been making history since it opened in 1957. (Photos: Melissa Valladares)
A show-business mecca filled with glitz and glamour, Los Angeles has continuously been at the center of the entertainment industry throughout American history.
A ground-zero for the country’s trendsetting music culture, the city is home to a variety of recording studios and clubs which regularly attract artists at every point in their career, from regulars hoping for a big break to household names who strut their stuff for thousands of fans.
For a musical trip around the city, here are some of the most legendary performance venues Los Angeles has to offer: from clubs off the beaten path to mega-arenas and everything in between.
The Staples Center
Located at the center of bustling and recently rejuvenated Downtown, the Staples Center is one of the most well-known venues in the City of Angels and is surrounded by a variety of quality restaurants and bars.
While the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers both call the arena home, the true draw here is its incredible array of music events. Frequently the location for awards shows ranging from MTV’s Video Music Awards to the Grammys, the Staples also draws household names on arena tours.
A glance at the arena’s schedule will reveal top names from country stars like Eric Church, rock legends like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and teen pop favorites like Shawn Mendes.
There’s no hipper music club in Los Angeles, or perhaps the entire U.S., than The Echo. Located in L.A.’s hipster-centric Echo Park (a neighborhood known for a plethora of bars and a parade of thrift shops to suit any taste), The Echo hosts rising and established acts every night of the week, from local favorites to artists making a stop during a nationwide jaunt.
Besides the ultra-cool array of music makers it regularly hosts, The Echo is also home to Funky Soul Saturdays, a longtime dance party that blasts funk music and was the inspiration for Walk the Moon’s 2015 hit “Shut Up and Dance.”
Largo at the Coronet
An L.A. staple located smack between chic Beverly Hills and the energetic party mecca of West Hollywood, Largo at the Coronet has for the past two decades been a go-to spot for fans of music and humor alike.
Besides hosting a variety of the industry’s top comedic talents (famed writer-director Judd Apatow regularly performs here), the cozy club also hosts singer-songwriters at the top of their game.
Jon Brion, best known for creating the scores for films such as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Magnolia, has a highly acclaimed residency at Largo in a rollicking show where he’ll croon both imaginative covers and well-known originals.
The Viper Room
One of the most legendary—and infamous—clubs in Los Angeles, The Viper Room has been an underground rock oasis and celebrity magnet since its opening in 1993.
Formerly owned by superstar Johnny Depp, the venue (located on the world famous Sunset Strip) regularly hosts rock acts — both popular and on the rise — while also boasting an extensive whiskey bar.
Sadly, the club also has been the home of various tragic moments in show business history, including being the spot where famed actor River Phoenix overdosed during the Room’s inaugural year.
Another one of Los Angeles’ arena venues, the ‘Fabulous’ Forum (as it’s known) has had a tumultuous history since its 1967 opening. In its early years, acts ranging from The Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin regularly appeared at the venue, but as the decades rolled on, the arena — and its Inglewood neighborhood — fell into disrepair.
Its fate soon changed when the company behind Madison Square Garden purchased the space, recently restoring it to its former glory. Recent legends who have graced the Forum’s stage include top names from Prince (during one of his last appearances in Los Angeles) to Eric Clapton.
Now, pop stars regularly make The Forum a stop on their world tours, including the likes of Ariana Grande, The Weeknd and Bruno Mars.
No place in Los Angeles music history has been more consequential than that of the Troubadour.
Open since 1957 smack in the the middle of the action of the city’s West Hollywood neighborhood, the venue was the epicenter of L.A.’s singer-songwriter explosion in the late 60s and early 70s and featured debut performances from the likes of James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and Neil Young.
Now a half century later, the stage of the Troubadour is still making history, whether it’s hosting today’s top talent or wooing famous fans like Jay Z and Beyonce.
Perhaps that’s why Rolling Stone once called it one of the best venues in the entire United States, while Billboard went so far to call it one of “the most influential clubs in North America.”
For even more music history, check out…
Silverlake’s The Satellite, a no-frills club regularly boasting a genre-spanning lineup of rising talent; The Regent, a spacious and hip downtown venue in hundred year-old digs; Sunset Boulevard’s massive Hollywood Palladium which can hold up to 4,000 fans; and last but not least, the gorgeous Hollywood Bowl, an outdoor amphitheater perfect for those starry LA nights.
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