When the doors slammed shut on 4th & B at the end of 2012, the dominoes started falling on music venues across San Diego. Over the course of the next few years, clubs such as Anthology, Calypso, The Tiki House, Brick By Brick, and most recently, The Griffin, closed shop. These six closures laid waste to a handful of the area’s most diverse music venues, causing local bands and national touring acts to clamor for bookings elsewhere.
Starting this June, help might just be on the way.
A North Park landmark, The North Park Theatre, a building that has been featuring entertainment in San Diego for 84 years, has been sold and is starting to book shows. Most recently, the Theatre fell into bankruptcy and was bought by David Cohen, Bobby Jones and the Verant Group. Located in the heart of North Park, The Theatre has housed concerts, plays, movies and a wide variety of entertainment for years.
“We’re looking at doing at least two concerts a week, and probably four to five overall events a week, once we get ramped up. Our goal is to do four to five concerts a week, with two of them being by national touring acts,” Cohen recently told George Varga at the U-T San Diego. Depending on the event, the theater will host both seated and standing-room-only shows. The venue’s standing room capacity is 1,100 and features full bar and food service.
Obviously, with the rash of club closures, San Diego could use another first class venue (take a gander at what this place looks like inside!) to offer more music to the area.
So the real question might not be: “Do we need another music venue?” But rather: “Will San Diego come out and support another music venue?”
If you take a closer look at the six closed clubs, each one served its own geographic and musical purpose. Anthology and 4th & B pulled national acts to the downtown area, with Anthology also bringing in a diverse line up of jazz musicians. 4th & B (which was around the longest at 17 years) also brought in a wide range of different musical styles from hip-hop to world beat to metal. The Griffin was booking more local and indie rock acts, and Brick By Brick was catering to the harder edge crowd. Focusing on more local talent in mainly acoustic settings, The Tiki House and Calypso were staples for music in their neighborhoods, with Calypso being the only North County club offering music on a nightly basis.
So, why are these clubs no longer open? Was it lease issues? Not enough backing? Economy? Location? Bad booking? Or, was it really just not enough support by the San Diego community at large? While it’s speculative at best to point a finger at any one of these reasons, it’s more probable that a combination was to blame.
To say the least, it’s going to be interesting to follow what The North Park Theatre does over the next few years to bring an audience through its doors. One of its first moves, bringing on Casbah owner Tim Mays to book shows, is a slam dunk. Mays’ pedigree and success of putting together great shows in San Diego is unmatched, and Mays and The Casbah team will definitely give the North Park Theatre a leg up in the booking department. Mays’ first booked show, international star Rodriguez, on June 3rd has already sold out with a second show added June 5. Huzzah! An impressive start!