After two decades of hosting live music and theater on Beverly Boulevard in Historic Filipinotown, Bootleg Theater is shutting down for good. According to a statement on social media from owners Jason and Alicia Adams, the closure resulted from a simmering dispute with a partner combined with the financial ravages of the pandemic.
“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 statement reads. “The crush of a COVID closure made the situation even more untenable for us.”
As independent music venues across L.A. were bought out by mega-promoters like Live Nation and Goldenvoice, the Bootleg remained independent, hosting everything from lady arm wrestlers to Phoebe Bridgers’s early shows.
Kyle Wilkerson and Brandon Gonzalez of show promoter Sid the Cat also put out a statement on social media, saying, “There are little words to say how we feel right now about the recent closure of @bootlegtheater. We’ve lost a home and a gathering place for our community. There was truly no place like it. It will be missed. But we will move forward.” Wilkerson, who also oversaw talent buying at the Bootleg, helped spearhead the #CoverTheBootleg fundraising drive to help out the venue’s staffers, and was a vocal proponent of legislation to save indie music venues. Sid the Cat will continue to host shows at other local venues, including Highland Park Ebell and Pico Union Project.
One survey conducted last June found that fully 90 percent of independent music venues in the United States report being at risk of permanent closure as a result of the pandemic. Owners of another indie venue for live music and comedy, the Satellite in Silver Lake, announced last summer that their spaces was being converted into a restaurant. According to reporting by L.A. Taco, Bootleg was actually poised to emerge from the pandemic financially solvent, coming off its most successful year yet in 2019, but the messy partnership in question complicated matters.
Musicians and longtime guests commented on Instagram with their gratitude and condolences. Singer-songwriter Greta Morgan of Springtime Carnivore said, “Thank you for EVERYTHING. the bootleg was such a magical community space and it meant so much to all of us to have a safe, nurturing environment to experiment and to play and to witness music and theater.” Singer-songwriter Kevin Morby wrote, “So sad. Such amazing times over the years. Thanks for everything.”
Owners Jason and Alicia Adams ended their statement on a bright note, teasing a future for the current Bootleg space: “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. They will be issuing a separate press release.”
Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.