The Whisky A Go Go — dubbed the “World Famous Whisky A Go Go” in most of the marketing text you’ll find on this place — was once a grand and mighty pillar of the Los Angeles/Hollywood music scene. Or so the story goes.
I don’t doubt that was once true.
However, fellow Release Lister Dave Brooks and I were twice given the chance to cover shows at the Whisky, and both times led to an early exit. The first — WARREL DANE’s December 2009 solo performance — we couldn’t even get in, because the Whisky wasn’t willing to give us a free pass for the photographer, only the reviewer, so we never even made it into the show. The second was a year later, December 2010, when we went to cover POWERGLOVE‘s show with ARSIS, as well as nab an interview with POWERGLOVE’s Nick Avila (bass) and Bassil Silver (drums). In this case, we got into the show, but only after much hassle, the venue forcing POWERGLOVE’s tour manager to pay an extra fee (out of pocket, no less!) for us to get our camera in, and then — after all that bullshit — they physically tossed us out for using the camera to cover the show.
That’s right, the camera that the tour manager had cleared with the venue, then had to pay a fee for, became the reason why the Whisky tossed us out.
And guess what? This story isn’t unique, as this article from Metal Assault’s Andrew Bansal clearly points out. Our experiences match up in many disturbing ways, though, unfortunately, our’s was a little bit worse. The details are too many to mention, but here’s the thing: the venue isn’t just kicking press to the curb. They are actively ruining the shows themselves. And that right there is the most important reason why fans should not go to the Whisky and support it.
Here’s just a couple of the things we saw at the Whisky that ruined the experience for concert-goers and bands alike:
- The “floor” section is pretty small, and the security guards kept forcing everyone to stay as close together as possible. That actually makes some sense, but then, get this: if a mosh pit would break out (this is a fucking metal show, after all!), the same security guards would yell at everyone to move so they could go in, stop the pit, and then keep everyone at a distance for a while…
- …all the while, getting the janitor to come in and mop the floor. That’s right, mop the fucking floor! If something had been spilled (a drink, someone’s blood), I guess I could see that, but nothing was spilled. And they did this EVERY SINGLE TIME a mosh pit broke out.
- For the visually inclined:
PUSH EVERYONE TOGETHER -> MOSH PIT ->PUSH EVERYONE APART -> MOP FLOOR -> PUSH EVERYONE TOGETHER.
- For the visually inclined:
- Sometimes, even if there wasn’t a mosh pit, they’d break up the crowd and mop the floor. Can you imagine what the band sees from the stage? Nobody’s into the show, because they are too busy being moved back and forth by the security guards, and letting the janitors go to town on keeping the place spic and span, rather than enjoying the music.
- Any movement on the floor was deemed to be moshing, so if the band got you jumping around to the music (because they realized they couldn’t ask you to mosh), the same thing would happen.
- If you got pushed back off the floor and onto the carpet “walkway” because the security guys were clearing space for the janitor, other security guys would tell you that you can’t be in the walkway, and need to be on the floor.
The entire scene was frustrating. The bands were pissed, the fans were pissed, and the press got attacked for doing what they were in there to do.
So, Whisky Marketing Department: you want some bad fucking press? Well, now you’ve got two editorials on the web. And judging by the reviews on Yelp, only about one-quarter of the people who’ve been there would ever recommend it again. Sadly, none of the reviewers are bands…I’d really love to hear what the bands have to say (but, to be fair, most starting bands aren’t going to deny themselves a venue, even if it sucks. Such is the way of a failing industry).
For those of you keeping tabs, Release List went on a bit of a hiatus after the Whisky fiasco, and now you know why. We’ve looked into possible legal action, but it’s just not worth it for such a small publication. All we can do is tell our story.
Please feel free to share this editorial on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you feel appropriate. Make sure to tag the #thewhiskyagogo, and let any bands you play with, are a fan of, or just generally like know about the travesty that is the concert experience at the Whisky. If you’re in a band, pass up playing here. You may think you have to because you’re just starting out, and you WILL get people to go to the show, but the thing is that any first-timers are likely to not give a shit about your band because they’ll relate it to the horrible experience, and that’s not what you want. There are much better places throughout Hollywood and Santa Monica especially, so tell the Whisky to fuck off.