Best Venues of 2011

I wish I knew all the places in Southern California that had the best acoustics.  Being a music-phile, you’d think I’d  have the sensibility and care to research such things.  Alas, this reflection on the “Best Venues” will be slightly more toward the superficial end of things.  I’m a sucker for “stunners”.  The ambience of venue also counts; whether it’s low or high brow, the kind of place that reminds you of your living room or sends you to the moon.  In no particular order:

The Orpheum, Los Angeles, California
The Orpheum is luscious and rich.  Each surface reflects not only art and care, but also a passion for the ornate. It is a cacophony of wood, marble, and glass.  It was originally built to be a player in the vaudeville circuit.  Design began in 1923, and the building was realized, with its first opening night in 1926.  Check it.  3 years before the bottom dropped out of the US economy.  Standing outside, the marquee beat, beat, beats its own rhythm.  The Orpheum houses a Wurlitzer Style 240 Special organ.  The heart of the organ is tucked away some where, but the pipes are bare and visible.  Waiting.  We saw Tori Amos here, with Apollon Musagete.  Phenom.

The Caves, Edinburgh, Scotland
Historic and epic.  The Caves is a truly unique venue dating back to the 1700s, subterranean (under South Bridge), massive brick vaults.  People forgot about it. But like some things forgotten, it was remembered a century later.  We chatted with the owner a bit.  If memory serves correctly, he assured us it was in fact haunted. Again relying on faulty memory, I believe it’s also part of Mary King’s Close.  In any case, being in the humid embrace of these caverns, grooving out to music is not at all a bad way to spend the evening.

Anthology, San Diego, California
This one is easy and close to home. It was financed by a music lover (so it does have the acoustic considerations).  The peculiar aspect of Anthology is that is harkens back to the dinner clubs of the 1930 and 40s, with an obvious updating of the decor (definitely modern).  I like the cool elegance, and low key atmosphere of this place.  My favorite performance of the year, hands down, was the Barr Brothers. They have a distinct sound, dabble across genres while belonging to none. Experimental and playful.

Notable mentions:
The Greek Theater and the Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles California.  (See the previous post on Best Concerts of 2011 for the reasons why.)
The Soda Bar, San Diego, California. (A little grungy, totally local, and they typically pick good indie bands.)

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One thought on “Best Venues of 2011

  1. Excellent choices….people think I am crazy to love going to this area of LA, traffic and all to see acts at the Orpheum. Besides the fact that they often have acts that do not appear here the venue itself adds to the enjoyment of the show.
    Your memory is solid, these are some of the tunnels that can also lead to Mary King’s Close, they are spooky if not haunted. It was easily obvious that we were well underground by the sound and the smell, not unpleasant just earthy.
    Anthology does have excellent sound plus the food is great so your soul and body are well satiated!

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