Legendary West Hollywood Music Venue the Troubadour Is in Trouble

As concert venues remain closed during the pandemic, one of L.A.’s last independently owned rock n’ roll clubs needs help

With concert venues placing dead last in Governor Gavin Newsom’s four-phase plan to reopen California, historic live music venue the Troubadour may have staged its final act.

Although the comparatively small club has launched some of the world’s biggest performers over the past 60 years, the Troubadour’s general manager, Christine Karayan, is facing the prospect that intimate venues like hers just don’t have the resources to survive the extended closure the plan requires.

“That means the middle to the end of next year to potentially open, and maybe a 25 percent cap” on crowd size, Karayan tells the Los Angeles Times. “I can’t foresee being able to ride this out like that.”

While larger venues can enforce social distancing when they’re allowed to open, that’s not an option for the 500-capacity, general admission space, says Karayan, whose father, Ed Karayan, owns the Troubadour.

“The more I think about it, it’s just completely futile. At least a big seated venue has space where they can keep people apart,” she tells the Times. “But I don’t know how that works for a general admission venue. Are you going to stop them from using the restroom?”

Another advantage the big spots have over the Troubadour is corporate cash. Many smaller venues have opted to partner up with deep-pocketed promoters like AEG and Live Nation, but the Troubadour has always remained independent as it gave a start to acts like the Byrds, Elton John and Joni Mitchell, up through Metallica and Queens of the Stone Age.

“We’re lumped in with the big boys, and we’re not the big boys,” Karayan tells the Times. “We don’t have shareholders. We don’t have corporate money. We are what we are.”

Karayan started a GoFundMe page for the 20 hourly employees she has had to lay off since the club’s last concert, Glass Animals, on March 11. So far it’s raised $18,115 of its $50,000 goal—which was increased from an initial goal of $30,000 to emphasize the urgency of the situation.

Glass Animals are among the bands calling for people to help save the club:

“If we’re going to survive this thing—and that’s a big if,” Karayan says. “We’re going to need all the help we can get, from any direction we can get it.”