Los Angeles’ Bootleg Theater is closing down. The 20-year-old indie venue was located on Beverly Boulevard in Historic Filipinotown and notably featured artists such as Kevin Morby, Phoebe Bridgers and Wolf Alice early in their careers, as well as theater productions and various other events.
“It is with deep sorrow that we announce the closing of the Bootleg Theater venue,” former owners Jason and Alicia Adams wrote in a statement on Twitter. “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.”
Thank you all for the countless memories. pic.twitter.com/64Krv9oMuk
— Bootleg Theater (@BOOTLEGtheater) June 21, 2021
They continued, “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.”
The Adams’ added to the statement to say that the Bootleg was the location of some of the best nights of their lives and had their most financially successful year ever in 2019. Unfortunately, it ultimately couldn’t stay open due to the dispute with their partner in the property, in spite of support from a GoFundMe campaign, PPP loans and various grants.
However, it’s not all bad news. “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 explain. “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.”
Representatives of their in-house show promoter Sid the Cat, Kyle Wilkerson and Brandon Gonzalez, add, “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 was in charge of talent buying for the Bootleg. Sid the Cat will continue to host shows at other local venues like Highland Park Ebell and Pico Union Project, including the remaining shows that had been scheduled for the Bootleg.
Pussy Riot plays at the Bootleg Theater, 2017 – Photo Credit: Brett Padelford