From the bro-ed out sands of Santa Monica, to the hipster-infested hills of Echo Park, the Echo and Spaceland Presents have been dominating the indie music scene the past 18 years. What started off as a small local music venue, has grown into a full blown indie virus that is just as infectious in spreading hot new music, as it is in harvesting hip venues and bars for music aficionados to seek refuge from the limited world of mainstream pop.
In 1993, East Hollywood’s O.G. music snob, Mitchell Frank was recording music in his Hollywood studio with friends and local acts. At the time it was one of the first Pro Tools 2 studios in Los Angeles where he had started with then radio edits, and then worked his way up to recording bands such as the Negro Problem and Lifter. The music that was coming his way was so fresh that it had to be shared amongst Los Angeles. “At the time, music on the radio kind of sucked,” shared Frank. “I was a big fan of KXLU and what was happening on KCRW at the time, and that became my music bible. No venues were focusing on indie.”
After selling his recording studio, in 1995 Frank opened the doors to his next brainchild, Club Spaceland at the Silver Lake venue Dreams, and was the exclusive promoter there for 15 years and premiered some of today’s biggest acts: Beck, Silversun Pickups, etc. As the internet grew and made more underground and indie music accessible, indie bands were on the rise and so were venues to showcase the talents of this burgeoning scene.
What followed Spaceland were a few more branches of the Mitchell Frank family tree which consisted of the Echo (2001), Echoplex( 2007), along with the popular Echo Park beer & wine haunt, El Prado (2008); and we mustn’t forget the tasty and hip Mexican restaurants, Malo in Silver Lake and its sister Mas Malo in Downtown L.A. Nowadays, when we refer to “the Echo,” we’re not just talking about the esteemed venue. It’s much more than that. We’re talking about the entity and driving force in the Los Angeles indie music scene. But it doesn’t stop there folks, this past year we’ve seen the Echo’s booking prowess grow with a fierce prowl.
Like a tiger marking its territory, Spaceland Presents, along with partner Rum and Humble (under the moniker RH&S Concerts) made its way to the Santa Monica Pier booking shows for this year’s Twilight Concerts series, as well as bringing a new festival to the water called Way Over Yonder, in addition to the comedy and music event, Festival Supreme. Not to mention, under the name of Spaceland Presents, they have been booking all the premium shows at the First Unitarian Church, First Fridays at the Natural History Museum, Saturdays Off the 405 at the Getty, and KCRW’s annual Masquerade ball. From a humble recording studio, to this vast indie empire — Frank has built quite the indie legion across Los Angeles.
Jimmy Cliff at the Twilight Concert Series at Santa Monica Pier – Photo: Farah Sosa
Spaceland parted ways with the Silver Lake venue Dreams in 2010, rumors of a new Downtown Los Angeles venue were sizzling. That sizzle is about to light a musical fire in the historic core of DTLA as the Echo plans to open its doors to its newest and biggest venue in early 2014. Built in 1913, the historic Regent Theatre is coming back to life with a complete facelift from the ground up.
Keeping its original name, the two-story venue will hold a capacity of 1,200+ and will feature two bars. Additionally, there will be food! If you love the convenient access to Two Boots next to the Echo, the Regent will feature its own Neapolitan pizza parlor called Prufrock and the menu will be curated by Frank’s sister, Chef & Food Stylist, Tobi Martin. The thin crust New York style pies will also come in a low calorie version(yes, it’s so L.A.!). Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. The Regent will also have an intimate bar at the front entrance called, The Love Song. This new neighborhood bar will operate seven days a week. Even when there’s not a show going off at the Regent, the Love Song will be open and serving up cocktails at working man’s prices.
As for all of you East Hollywood show-goers, don’t get your chonies in a bunch about the hike to DTLA. The Regent is conveniently located just three blocks from the Pershing Square Red Line stop. Not to mention there are plenty of surface lots, and meter parking is free after 8 p.m.
So what else does the Mitchell Frank musical family tree have in its future? If you didn’t already know, DoLA is also part of the Frank family. There are some other fresh ideas in the works that we can’t divulge at this time, but perhaps a cozy wine bar will be added to the mix, or something like that.
Words / Interview: Sandra Burciaga