Where We Live: Troubadour – West Hollywood, CA

Los Angeles has been one of the most important and influential cities in the music world for decades. It’s the home of numerous agencies and record labels, and many a band has formed or been discovered in the City of Angels. In a city where nothing stays the same for long, several of the venues of yesteryear have surprisingly survived, but none has a richer history than the Troubadour.

According to its official website, the Troubadour has been host to an unbelievable amount of debuts, discoveries, record releases, and live albums in its 53 years. As impressive as it is to have been where Janis Joplin spent her last night and James Taylor made his debut, it takes more than history to make a venue still exciting and relevant. So what is it that elevates the Troubadour above other classic venues, such as those on the Sunset Strip? While the Troubadour was as integral to the 80’s metal scene as those venues on The Strip, it has continued to host relevant and exciting acts in the years since that scene died and has not descended into pay-to-play irrelevance like other clubs.

Located on the border of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood and literally down the street from the Beverly Hilton, the Troubadour is not exactly located in the middle of a hipster mecca. Nevertheless, performing at the Troubadour has been almost a rite of passage for artists on the rise in recent years. Bands that are already too well known for Spaceland or The Smell but not quite big enough for El Rey or the Music Box are generally found either at the Troubadour or at the Echo/Echoplex on the other side of town.

Upon entry, patrons over the age of 21 are given wristbands that grant access to both alcohol and in-and-out privileges. Inside the Troubadour are three bars: one in the performance room, one in the waiting and merchandise area, and one upstairs in the VIP lounge. Stickers for entry to the VIP lounge are distributed to the 21 and over crowd for most shows, but don’t expect to get in when someone like Coldplay decides to perform. Bartenders are among the friendliest in town, even going as far as to once offer club soda to rescue my favorite t-shirt from a spill at dinner down the street an hour before doors officially opened. It’s the sort of place where everybody will know your name if you go often enough. In a city where most venues have bars without tap water available in hopes of gouging thirsty attendees for $5 a bottle, the free cups of ice water at the Troubadour are refreshing in more ways than one.

Performances at the Troubadour are synonymous with intimacy. No matter where you stand in relation to the low stage, you’re close. Standing in the front row actually feels like an intrusion on the artists’ personal space. One aspect that separates the Troubadour from other intimate venues is a balcony that offers better views than even the best seats at local theaters. It’s the best of both the world of open-floor clubs and that of seated, balconied theaters. But what makes the Troubadour a place to remember is the energy that seems to emanate from the location itself. I have been fortunate enough to attend some truly stellar performances at the Troubadour, and whether it was a secret set from The Cure or just a night checking out some previously-unheard bands with friends, there has always been a sense of magic in the air.

9081 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
(310) 276-1158

To get a complete listing of the upcoming shows, click here.

Photography by Philip Cosores.


Follow Consequence