The “Sunset Strip” is one of the most legendary places in Los Angeles. The musical history that surrounds the area is rich and full of greatness. Everyone knows the stories of The Doors, Motley Crue, Guns n Roses, etc. Everyone has dreams of playing at the venues up and down the strip. The sad thing is that today in 2014, there isn’t much left of the greatness that once was such a legendary place. There is no scene anymore, and venues are closing down. The Key Club and The Roxy are no longer open. All that is left is the Whisky and The Viper Room, and the little bit of nostalgia that you get from walking around the area.
I recently attended a show at the Whisky to see Fear Factory. In my mind I thought this will be great to see them again and at the Whisky of all places. I remember seeing them there back when their album Obsolete came out. Boy was I wrong. First off they were horrible live and Burton C. Bell couldn’t hit the notes. They seemed like a second rate version of what they used to be, holding on to what they once were thinking that they still had “it”
The main reason for this piece is to detail how downhill the Whisky has become. Nevermind the history of the place, plain and simple this place is a hole in the wall now. The exterior alone needs a drastic update. The people working the ticket booth are some of the laziest rude people ever. It’s 2014 people, it’s about time to start taking credit cards to buy tickets. Security wise, I understand the need to pat people down, but don’t grab my ass. If I wanted to get felt up I’d stay home with my lady. Once inside the stench of mold, sweat, and filth fills the room. The carpet has got to be so old they are afraid to rip it up and see what lies beneath. The layout downstairs doesn’t make any sense. Why have booths downstairs in an area that takes away from the standing room? The Roxy had a different area for that, same with the Key Club. They understood the need for continuity in the building. The bathrooms, are a travesty to all ends. The upstairs area is where the booths should be. Thus providing the “VIP” experience. Instead there are plastic chairs that you would find at your local Home Depot. Another aspect of the place is the crappy sound system. It looked like they updated the board, but not the speakers or the direction of how the sound travels.
One of the worst parts about the Whisky is the way they stack the lineup for the night. It makes no sense to have 6 bands on a bill before the main band of the night. Not to mention have them sell tickets at an outrageous amount just to cover their own cost. Pay to play is one of the biggest scams ever. The sad reality is that most of the bands that do this really aren’t that good at all. During the night that I was there, not one of the bands that opened for Fear Factory were good. They were so bad in fact that my friend and I left and went to a bar next door to wait out the time till Fear Factory went on (thank goodness for the rule of in’s and outs for those 21 and over). One of the other main things that is wrong about the venue is their lack of crowd control. First of all there was way too many people inside. It’s almost like they oversold the event. The way they handle the “pit” is non existent. Not everyone wants to be involved in it. While my friend and I were leaving mid set (due to Fear Factory being horrible) we had to walk through the pit instead of a clear walk way. Perhaps they should get someone in there and prevent the large people from hurting the other people in attendance.
Times they are a changing, and the Whisky needs to do the same or follow in the footsteps of the other venues that closed down. There is no need for any of what I just mentioned to happen. For a place that once was a spot that bands dreamed of playing at, they really let it go. How about really taking the time and care about your place and make it that way again. Otherwise shut your doors and walk away.
Since I wrote this article, I’ve been back to the Whisky for countless shows and they really have stepped up and worked to make this venue better. The sound system seems new(er) and the rate of speed between bands seems to be tighter. Sure there is still room for improvement but, they are getting their act together. This venue is historic and special and needs to be treated that way. A coat of paint inside and good pressure wash could do wonders for the place.