IT WAS SHOCKING WHEN THE ROLLING STONES ANNOUNCED A TINY CLUB SHOW IN LA, BUT IT SURPRISED NO ONE THAT THE TINY CLUB THEY CHOSE WAS ECHOPLEX. THE APRIL 2013 PERFORMANCE IS CITED AS A RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE BY THE LUCKY FEW WHO WERE THERE, AND NO DOUBT ADDED TO THE GRITTY ROCK AMBIENCE ONE FEELS WHEN STEPPING INSIDE THIS VENUE, WHICH IS SPLIT INTO TWO SPACES – THE ECHO, A SMALLER ROOM ENTERED ON SUNSET BOULEVARD, AND ECHOPLEX, A MORE CAVERNOUS SPACE ENTERED DOWN THE STEPS ON GLENDALE BOULEVARD. SPOT THE LINE SNAKING UNDER THE SUNSET BOULEVARD OVERPASS AND YOU’LL KNOW YOU’RE THERE.
While it’s been open for nearly 20 years, The Echo still fills up most nights, and weekends get particularly hectic, with the long-standing funk/soul dance party Funky Sole happening every Saturday on the back patio. Here patrons are allowed to drink and smoke; just try not to step on anyone’s feet. While a recent renovation spruced things up, giving a particularly needed gloss to the bathrooms, The Echo and Echoplex both maintain a happily lived-in atmosphere – a vibe intensified by the collection of Echo Park regulars who have made this space like a second living room. You can practically smell the sweat spilled during the countless moshpits and dance parties that tend to break out here, whether the performances are dealing in punk, rock, hardcore, dance or the other genre-spanning sounds populating the calendar. Programming focuses largely on up-and-comers, with many local and out-of-town acts playing their first LA shows at The Echoplex. This means savvy fans can often catch bands on the rise for just a few dollars.
Inside, they have cheap mixed drinks and local beers on tap, while – a true godsend – the neighbouring pizza spot Two Boots delivers directly to the club. It’s not unusual to see lead singers make the jump from the stage to the adjacent bar and wrap up sets from this boozy perch.