The ‘underground’ music scene is becoming not so underground. Producing bands like Fall Out Boy and Hawthorne Heights, smaller bands and venues are beginning to take on a bigger role in the music scene. At these venues you can see the ‘Next Big Thing’ bands like The Audition, Halifax, and My Waking Dream.
In this edition of Southern California Venues we will look at the Knitting Factory, Chain Reaction, and French Valley Theatre.
The Knitting Factory located at 7021 Hollywood Blvd Ste 209, Hollywood, is the hipster club of the review. Being on the famed Hollywood Blvd., that is bound to happen. Acts like Ashlee Simpson and Ryan Cabrera have played some of their first shows here to half empty rooms. You may remember Knitting Factory being the venue on an episode ‘Ashlee.’ KF, as it is widely referred to among the employees, offers three stages one of which has a bar literally connecting to the stage, the Front Bar stage. This is the stage you see when you come in through the main entrance to KF. It is exactly what is says it is, the front bar. Bands that just don’t draw well enough to play mainstage grace this stage.
The Alterknit Lounge is a small room. Very small. New local acts take this room over. Drawing 50 people per show for this room would seem packed. It is that small.
Then they have the Mainstage. This is a capacity of over 500. National acts such as Tenacious D and Kotsay have rocked here, in addition to Simpson, Cabrera, and many more. The Mainstage is accompanied by the Mainspace, complete with a bar at the back of the room. Mainspace has a separate entrance around the side of the club to accommodate longer lines. Also featured at the Mainspace is an upstairs viewing area. Complete with chairs and couches, the upstairs portion offers a getaway from the sometimes crowded floor.
We head Southeast to Chain Reaction in Anaheim. A former biker bar, Chain Reaction has transformed into one of the premier places to catch a small band. You can catch a show at Chain’s small, strip mall setting almost every night of the week, occasionally having a smaller show before the main one on the same night. This club is respected by musicians of all size, as it has probably hosted their band at some point or another. Rising to fame in the Thrice video for “Deadbolt,” Chain Reaction has seen Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and Ben Harper, formerly of Yellowcard, among others return to catch one of their favorite lesser known acts like The Hush Sound and Over It, respectively. You get a sense of the history of Chain Reaction when you walk in to every inch of their walls covered in T-Shirts from bands who have taken the stage there. Sold out shows can get rather crowded, but are really fun. After the show you can expect to see band members hanging out at their merchandise table or just walking around. Info for Chain Reaction: 250 capacity. 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim.
Lastly, French Valley Theatre is a lesser known venue in the fastest growing area in Southern California – Murrieta. Upon arriving at French Valley Theatre – 37420 Via Mira Mosa, Murrieta – you may find yourself confused. The theatre is located inside an elementary school. But do not be turned off. Inside you will find a 650 capacity space equipped with a big stage, possibly the biggest of the three venues. Here you will see mostly local bands, with the occasional national act. It is a relatively new venue in a new music scene. For booking info visit. www.fullvalueentertainment.com