Los Angeles venue The Bootleg Theater has closed after 20 years of hosting performances. "Due to a forced sale brought on by the partner we purchased the property with in 1999, we reached an impasse of irreconcilable differences before the pandemic hit, and the crush of closure made the situation impossible for us to continue," wrote Bootleg owners Jason and Alicia Adams in a statement, which also said the venue was coming off its strongest year when the pandemic hit. "Our non-profit had applied for more City, County, State and NEA programming grants and received them all. But we just couldn't hold on to the property any longer."
The Bootleg still plans to "produce shows digitally and at other venues." They also say there is a "silver lining" in that the space will remain a venue but with new owners and a new name. "We are passing the torch to two Angelenos who have the dream and vision of a new version of a performance space at what will be affectionately known as the old Bootleg space. They came in at the last minute, sparing the venue from being used as retail or torn down for more unaffordable housing." Details on that are still to be announced.
The Bootleg also says that any scheduled shows are being moved to other venues. Read the Adams' whole statement below.
Over the last two decades, The Bootleg has hosted everyone from Arcade Fire to Conor Oberst, Gillian Welch, Phoebe Bridgers (who says she played the venue more than any other, and helped support it during 2020 lockdown), John Carpenter's first-ever live show, Big Thief, Pussy Riot's first L.A. show, Camp Cope (who posted a tribute on their Instagram), John C. Reilly, Jackson Browne, Reggie Watts, Cornel West, Garbage, Karen O., Marc Maron, Kamasi Washington, Best Coast, Fiona Apple, Eric Andre, Hannibal Buress, Courtney Barnett, Angel Olsen, Andrew Bird, Father John Misty, Steve Earle, Chelsea Wolfe, Tenacious D, Moses Sumney, Devendra Banhart, Blonde Redhead, Childish Gambino, Jonathan Richman, Jandek, Margaret Glaspy, Car Seat Headrest, Charli XCX, John Mulaney, David Bazan, Kevin Morby, Jessie Ware, Alt-J, Broken Bells, Sky Ferreira, Perfume Genius, and many more.
Jason and Alicia closed their statement with "Thank you for your loyal support through the years and wherever you go, may you carry the Bootleg Theater in your heart." You can read the whole thing below.
STATEMENT FROM BOOTLEG THEATER:
It is with deep sorrow that we announce the closing of the Bootleg Theater venue. Over the past 20 years we have all created something truly beautiful from scratch. It would have been impossible to do without all of us contributing to the cause as performers, writers, producers, employees, supporters and the two of us together as owners and with Jessica Hanna as founders. Hopefully we can all carry forward the legacy of the Bootleg, knowing that together we enjoyed tremendous success over the years while remaining fiercely independent.
Before the pandemic hit, we had reached an impasse of irreconcilable differences with the partner we originally purchased the property with in 1999, despite our earnest efforts to purchase our partner’s share of the real estate. The crush of a COVID closure made the situation even more untenable for us. After resisting numerous outside offers to sell out the Bootleg to conglomerates such as Live Nation, we managed to keep the little-engine-that could chugging along. It is a gut punch to us that our ultimate demise was an inside job.
There is no question that the best nights of our life (so far) were spent at the Bootleg. Our children grew up in and around the Bootleg, meeting and learning from artists from all walks of life. At its core the Bootleg was a place of intimate celebration for the patrons and a safe space for artists to create and express themselves freely at the highest level.
Sadly, the Bootleg Theater Venue is closing down after our best year ever in 2019, having made it through the pandemic still solvent and looking toward the future with excitement, hope and anticipation. We were fully self-sustaining operationally, and our employees had made it through thanks to PPP loans and a GoFundMe campaign that had the generous support of the community. Our non-profit had applied for more City, County, State and NEA programming grants and received them all. But we just couldn't hold on to the property any longer.
The silver lining is that we are passing the torch to two Angelenos who have the dream and vision of a new version of a performance space at what will be affectionately known as the old Bootleg space. They came in at the last minute, sparing the venue from being used as retail or torn down for more unaffordable housing. They will be issuing a separate press release in the future. Please join us in making their venture a success for the Los Angeles community.
Also keep in mind that The Bootleg will continue to produce shows digitally and at other venues such as our next dance program Blacktinx which premieres on 6/24 and shows thru 6/29.
Thank you for your loyal support through the years and wherever you go, may you carry the Bootleg Theater in your heart.
(Music shows that are currently scheduled for being at the Bootleg will be moved to other venues. Please reach out to sidthecat.com for shows promoted by Sid The Cat Presents.)
Jason, Alicia and the rest of the Bootleg family