Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Iconic DIY Punk / Indie / Experimental Club - "The Smell" Set for Demolition ??? Say It Isn't So.

Every music lover who is into seeing live performances whether it be indie, punk, heavy metal, rap or hip hop has seen their favorite venue close down. For bands / artists who play these special places it might even be a harder blow as one more venue that they can play simple goes away. While I never called one particular club my hang out place, as a musician whose band played around in the fertile period of 79 to the mid 80's I lamented the death of the original Madame Wongs, the Starwood and Gazzarri's, all clubs we played. For others before and after "my" timeline collective hearts broke at the demise of venues like RKCNDY in Seattle, or Bookies in Detroit, or Rathskeller in Boston, or The Cukoo's Nest in Costa Mesa, California or Radiotron in LA, or Cardis in Houston, Texas or The Fillmore in San Francisco and The Fillmore East in NYC, or the Lounge Ax in Chicago and, of course, the iconic CBGB's in Manhattan's East Village.

And there are so many more venues I can mention. So many more. That is the thing about music venues. They almost certainly have a life expectancy. Business wise it is a difficult road and the more the music veers away from the norm, veers to what some in society consider fringe music that appeals to the fringe members in society the more bumpy that road becomes. There is pressure from police agencies, neighbors, fire marshals and other governmental agencies. The kind of person who keeps these kinds of venues open and alive most generally do it for the love of the scene, the love of music. One such passionate soul is the heart and soul of LA's iconic punk / indie club the Smell, Jim Smith.

Yesterday, Saturday the 28th (of May) he posted a disturbing pic, namely a city notice of Demolition for The Smell and, in fact, will effect every building on the same block. According to LAist, Smith learned about the demolition on Friday night. "I suppose the signs have been there for many years, but I've suspected something like this was coming when our building was sold a year ago. I plan to do whatever I can to fight or delay this, " Smith told LAist.

The Smell has without question been the hub of punk / indie /experimental bands ostensibly run by Smith and a devoted crop of volunteers. Birthed in 1998 in North Hollywood, the venue moved to it's current location in 2000. Bands / artists who have been Smell regulars include Abe Vigoda, Ancestors, Barr, Carla Bozulich, Captain Ahab, David Scott Stone, Hawnay Troof, Health, Lavender Diamond, Laco$te, Lucky Dragons, The Mae Shi, Mika Miko, No Age, Pocahaunted, Silver Daggers, Thrones, Upsilon Acruxand, and XBXRX.

The wonderful thing about the Smell is that it is an all ages venue and that since it's inception has become a formidable stepping stone venue. I mean if you play the Smell there is this great indie cred that comes along with it. The kind of cred honed out of the DIY passion that birthed it, watched it take it's first wobbly steps and grow up into the free spirited scrappy teenager it is.

If the lights go out at the Smell it will be sad as this venue is so special and totally one of a kind. If the building goes away, my deepest hope is that it Smith will somehow be able to relocate it somewhere else. For this to be possible he will have to muster up a lot of things and an army of volunteers. And if it is just time for the Smell to end, there is no shame in that either as it has been the brightest of spots for new music in LA for the last 18 years.

Robb Donker

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