Echo Curio gets a visit from the vice squad, drops its BYOB policy
Last week, Echo Park's all-ages concert venue and D.I.Y. mainstay the Echo Curio Curiosity Shop and Art Gallery announced via Twitter that it would no longer permit alcohol consumption on its premises. "Changes they are a-coming -- ECHO CURIO is going to go dry for the time being... no byob in or out of the shop... sorry for inconvenience," the club wrote Aug. 10.
On Monday, it followed up with the following note on its blog: "OK, so it’s time we had the talk. We know you are going into the world, and you’re going to be tempted from time to time by alcohol and drugs. Well, we want you to know that the Echo Curio has straightened up and is here for you. We’re now an alcohol-less venue, neither selling nor allowing byob anymore. It is for the greater good, according to the LAPD, so all we can suggest is get your freak on before or after you visit us. Or maybe sneak out in the middle for a quickie… My word!"
According to co-owner Grant Capes, the limited co-op, which features cutting-edge experimental rock and electronic music, had drawn the attention of the LAPD's vice squad for being a "bottle club," allowing patrons to drink alcohol without a liquor license or regard to liquor control laws. After numerous complaints from neighbors, on Aug. 9, during a set of bass and guitar drone improvisation by Los Angeles-based experimental musician and composers Devin Sarno and Bobb Bruno, the LAPD vice squad visited the space and cited it for being a bottle club. The club remained open that night, but attendees had to pour out their alcohol.
"Funny thing was, we had no one drinking outside, no loud music playing, and maybe five adults drinking inside," said Capes.
Resulting rumors have surfaced suggesting that the venue is being closed down and not allowed to have amplified music, said Capes, "and that's pretty lame, but also sadly dangerously close to coming true if the LAPD decides to push this ... I would prefer us to continue under the radar as much as possible."
Echo Curio will be looking at various solutions, such as single-day liquor licenses. In the meantime, it will remain open and "happily" alcohol free, much like downtown club the Smell, noted Capes, which has undergone similar troubles with the LAPD in past years. "[This] will make it harder to get a crowd, I think, but we'll see," he said. No benefit events are in the works. "We'll be fine, I think. We'll see what happens. Benefits seem more like hurricane or starvation material."
The space opened in 2006 as a simple venue for $5 art and rock shows and has grown to host events nearly every night. It has always been all ages, with an ethos of encouragement for local culture in a communal-like setting, hosting talent that ranges from hobbyists to more serious artists.
-- Colin Stutz
Photo credit: Echo Curio