Maybe I’m biased, but there’s no greater city in the world for live music than West Hollywood. The Sunset Strip is home to some of the most iconic music venues; a destination that’s as important to the history of rock and roll as the guitar riff and drum solo. Millions of music fans from all over the world flock to venues like the Whisky a Go-Go and the Viper Room to experience a piece of that rock and roll history. Luckily for those of us fortunate enough to live in Los Angeles, we’ve got it all right here in our own backyard.
8901 West Sunset Blvd., WeHo
The Whisky first opened its doors on the Sunset Strip in the winter of ‘64 and played a significant role in shaping the careers of some of music’s most iconic artists. Everyone from The Byrds to The Turtles, Led Zeppelin to Neil Diamond, and Blondie to Otis Redding graced the stage, performing the classics I grew up listening to on my tape deck. It’s where Motley Crue got its start and the Doors was the house band. When I moved to Los Angeles, not only did I become a regular at the Whisky, I felt like I became a part of the history that made the Whisky and Sunset Strip so incredibly quintessential. I’ve stood front row to see some of the bands that helped me get through the awkwardness that was my adolescence. I’ve seen Crazytown perform “Butterfly,” Orgy perform “Blue Monday,” and Puddle of Mudd perform one of my alternative rock anthems, “Blurry.” It’s one thing to hear a song on the radio; it’s a completely different experience to see it live.
You can catch a show pretty much every night of the week at the Whisky. Every Tuesday, the Whisky hosts their popular Ultimate Jam Night, and it’s safe to say you can expect the unexpected. With a calendar filled with line-up after line-up, there’s a ton of artists you won’t want to miss this summer including Slash, Slant, Jefferson Starship, and the Fab Four’s ultimate Beatles tribute. If you haven’t been to The Whisky yet, go now. It’s gritty, unapologetic, and one of the few venues that continues to be all about the music.
To get the full Whisky a Go Go calendar, visit: http://www.whiskyagogo.com
The Viper Room
8852 West Sunset Blvd., WeHo
Partly owned by Johnny Depp, the Viper Room opened its doors on the Sunset Strip in 1993 with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as the opening act. That same year, River Phoenix died from a drug overdose Halloween morning right outside the club. In 1995, Jason Donovan nearly met the same fate but fortunately survived. Over two decades later, the Viper Room survived its infamous past of drug-induced mayhem and remains to be one of the most important music venues to date. Throughout the 90’s, the Viper Room became the hangout spot for Hollywood’s elite like Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Aniston, Angelina Jolie, and Jared Leto. It’s where Adam Duritz, lead singer of the Counting Crows, tended bar to escape his newfound fame. It’s where the Pussycat Dolls got their start, performing Burlesque shows every week. It’s where Bruce Springsteen, Oasis, Green Day, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Wallflowers, Run-DMC, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and countless other iconic artists all performed. It’s as dark and twisted today as it ever was, and here’s to hoping it never changes.
Just like the Whisky, the Viper Room has a calendar full of events including their Sunset Jam, which you can catch at 8 P.M. every Monday night. A lot of great tribute performances are scheduled this July including a Jim Morrison Memorial Celebration, Gabby Gabby Heys: Tribute to the Ramones, and a performance by Priss, the all- female KISS tribute band. On July 7 is Punk Rock Karaoke which by the sound of it, might be pretty damn epic. To get the full Viper Room calendar, visit: http://www.viperroom.com
Just for the record, I plan to party on the Sunset Strip for as long as it’ll have me – gray hair, bum hips, liver spots and all. Long live rock and roll.