On the outskirts of downtown Los Angeles lies an almost hidden venue. The Wiltern, only a few blocks from Korea Town, is a majestic sight to see amongst grime and industry, for those who know where to look. The theater rests on the first floor of the Pellisier Building, an art deco high rise on the corner of Wilshire and Western. Today, the venue houses an eclectic group of artists. Everyone from shoegaze post-rockers Mogwai to pop star sensation Lady GaGa has had a chance to be a part of Wiltern history.
Opening in 1931, the Warner Brothers Western Theatre held only vaudeville shows. Quickly closing one year later, the theater was renamed and reopened in the mid ’30s. The Wiltern was cleverly named after its two cross streets, WILshire and wesTERN. In the mid 1970’s, the venue closed yet again. This time demolition permits were applied for because the owners didn’t feel the need to put any more money into the theater. A preservation society stepped in and saved the venue from near destruction and intricately restored classic pieces within it. After about two full decades of performances, the Wiltern closed down one more time in 2002. 1,200 seats were removed from the bottom floor to make way for standing room. The five-tier floor design allows for a good view anywhere you stand and for the installation of seats if a more intimate performance is wanted.
There are many great venues in Los Angeles, including the Troubadour, the Hollywood Palladium, and the Henry Fonda, but the Wiltern is in a league of its own. The acoustics are phenomenal. They help to create and add a nice, warm vibration to the music, one that doesn’t ruin quality but enhances it. The entrance hall is grand, almost like an old eccentric ballroom, and the lone chandelier hanging from the ceiling helps to recreate a 1930’s vibe. The color coordination within the theater itself is worth mentioning as well. Nowhere else can you go and experience green carpet, beige and salmon colored walls, and red seats, all accompanied by great music. It’s an almost soothing sight. The strange blur of colors practically requires you to have the most extraordinary night. It’s all of these little points that essentially produce the air, the sense, the theme of the Wiltern itself.
The Wiltern’s atmosphere is the most unique of all the venues; it’s like stepping into a living, breathing time capsule. Every decoration, every sculpture, every painting is straight out of the early to mid 1900’s. As you walk in, old memories can be felt. An old yet respected energy can be experienced. It’s like an old oak tree. No matter what happens to the tree over many decades, it essentially stays the same. This is the Wiltern. It is frozen in time. It will always be a central hub to experiencing a world that once was. The only things that change are the people, the styles, and the music. The Wiltern abides though, because even while we think we are making an impression on it, it is truly making an impression on us.
The Wiltern Theater
3790 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90010
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