Dara: I know what you’re thinking… “another concert venue?!” but guys this one is near and dear to heart because it’s close to home. Literally. We live 3 minutes away…
TJ: Yes, the El Rey Theater is conveniently and centrally located on Wilshire Blvd, in Miracle Mile. Somehow it took us over a year to finally start going to concerts there, but it’s now one of our favorite concert venues in LA! (I feel like I’ve said this like four times on this blog by now, but really, it’s incredible.)
Dara: I went there to see my good friends Opia in the first show of their first ever national tour this fall. They were freaking amazing, and get better and better every time I see them live.
TJ: Then, a few weeks ago, I bought tickets to see Moses Sumney in concert. He’s an incredible singer-songwriter I just started listening to recently, prompted by seeing that he has on the line-up for the El Rey.
The El Rey really only books up and coming acts, so their concert schedule can seem random if you’re not into the the indie scene, but it’s really fun to be able to essentially discover a new artists.
Yes, everyone they book is incredible. I really got into Moses Sumney’s new album after the show, and his opener, the Sudan Archives, was also a great find.
The space itself was also an amazing find. The walls are covered in a beautiful red velvet with large chandeliers throughout. It’s so elegant that it’s used for church services on Sundays and often weddings and proms throughout the year.
Previously, the El Rey was a movie theater that opened in 1936 and was converted to event space in 1994. It’s actually been designated as one of LA’s historical monuments, and still has its movie poster foyer that now holds concert posters and its original art deco marquee.
For concerts, the set-up is standing room general admission with a VIP balcony where you can reserve tables for bigger shows. The main dance floor is a couple steps lower than what used to be the “box seats” area of the floor. And though there aren’t seats there anymore, the sides are a great spot to watch the show where you can lean on the railings and deal with the packed in bustle of the main floor.
It’s very similar to the Fonda Theater but more luxurious, instead of leaning into the Hollywood grit. There are three bars – two back-to-back downstairs and a bar upstairs with the VIP tables.
These bars have a couple small snack options – but if you’re looking to eat before or after the show, we recommend eating at the excellent El Cartel taqueria right next door. It has a great menu of Mexican food, with the prices all hovering around $6 per meal.
If you’re looking to stay up-to-date on getting tickets to a show, we’d recommend signing up for the El Rey email list or following them on Facebook. It’s not often that we see acts that we recognize on their schedule, but when we do, they often sell out very quickly. And tickets are cheap, especially if you get them first. Before resale, they’re almost always $25.
So follow them! If your favorite band is coming to the El Rey, you should go. It’s a fantastic place to see anyone play.
And if you don’t recognize anyone on the schedule, we recommend exploring the upcoming artists, too. You just might find a great new act!