In March, one of the most crucial clubs on the L.A. music scene for nearly two decades, especially for indie rock, will come to an end. But in a way, it won’t.
Club Spaceland, which promoter Mitchell Frank began as a weekly night in 1993 but which soon began monopolizing the bookings at 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., will officially cut ties with the venue next spring. Frank plans to open a new venue that caters to electronica audiences. It will join a music, dining and nightlife stable at Spaceland Productions that also includes the Echo, the Echoplex, the Echo Park bar El Prado, the nouveau-Mexican restaurant Malo and the forthcoming Mas Malo downtown.
Meanwhile, at 1717 Silver Lake Blvd., owner Jeff Wolfram is making plans for a new club at the site, to be called the Satellite, including hiring Jennifer Tefft, Spaceland’s former music booker.
For those whose 20s and 30s were defined by watching or performing in local indie bands in the more-easterly climes of L.A., the change looks less drastic than one might expect. But the split still heralds the end of one particular moment in music in one of America’s most indie-centric neighborhoods, and may hint at what the next one entails. We talked with Frank about what led to this split, what the new venue will offer and Spaceland’s legacy of moving weirdo music into the limelight and making mainstream rock a little stranger.
How long has this untethering between Spaceland Productions and the venue been planned?
It’s been on my mind for a while. I don’t own the venue, there were creative differences, and it was just time. We were being told what to do, and I’m not one for being told what to book. I book what I like. It came to a head -- nothing major happened , but it just hit a boiling point. I couldn’t operate it as I wanted to.
In terms of the Spaceland Productions business model, how had that venue’s role changed for you over the last few years?
We had a wall between our venues. We’d make dueling offers and let the agents pick, and it just wasn’t as artist-friendly over there. It was growing difficult for us to do shows there.
You run the building that houses the Echo and the Echoplex. Did the fact that you didn’t run the venue that housed Spaceland affect this decision?
I cut a bad deal there when I was much more of a novice, and it never changed even after I made them millions of dollars. It’s going to be tough having to compete against it -– I’m now competing against my old talent buyer and against the club that I put on the map. I love Spaceland. I loved all the years I spent there. I just never had a good deal.