Hollywood, the geographic location itself and not the all-encompassing metaphor for the movie business, is experiencing a renaissance and rebirth right now. Seedy Hollywood Boulevard is seeing a rise in new development and the inevitable gentrification that goes along with that. It’s all happening right there in the shadow of the famous Capitol Records building, itself rumored to convert to condos any day now.
Several years ago the foundation was laid when the Red Line subway was installed underground. The Hollywood & Highland complex went up on the “west end” of the boulevard, which included a facelift for the venerable Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the construction of a new home for the Oscars, the Kodak Theatre. Although as visually challenged as any architecture can possibly be, the complex nevertheless started attracting people to Hollywood for the first time in many years. The boulevard and surrounding neighborhood still has a long way to go but now the “east end” of the business district, the area surrounding the famous intersection of Hollywood & Vine is taking off as well. A new W Hotel is being built directly across from the Pantages Theatre, with the Vine Street subway stop rising from its courtyard. Adaptive reuse of old bank buildings and the like are turning those spaces into new luxury condominiums. In five years it’ll be a whole new ball game down there and you can already feel it in the air.
So, is it just a coincidence that within the space of one week, no fewer than three major headline artists have chosen to perform sets in small spaces, all within a block or two of the theatre?
Last Wednesday night, Paul McCartney and company played a set at Amoeba Records on Sunset. I mean, geez, give me a break…Paul McCartney! I teased our drummer, Chris Jago, originally from Liverpool, about going down there and getting us in the side door, and he laughed, but offered that his auntie actually dated Paul back in the old days!
The night before that, Snoop Dogg held court at the tiny Music Box, a half block east on the boulevard. I could see the huge crowd hanging out backstage as I made my way out of the parking lot after our show. I turned up some Mahler I had in the CD player in order to rattle the trunk lid when the big timpani part came in, but they seemed unimpressed.
And finally, Prince (or is he still known as the artist formally known as?) is headlining in the small room at the legendary Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, once a week for the next month or so. That’s right…Prince…playing a steady club gig! He’s been doing something like that in Las Vegas recently, so I guess he wants to try that here, too. OK, so the tickets are $3,121 a pair, but it’s Prince. No, that isn’t a typo…three thousand one hundred twenty one dollars. C’mon…open up that wallet! The least you can do is fork out $300 (that’s three hundred dollars) for the privilege of getting a Standing Room Only seat…er, uh…place to put your feet.