the manx at the satellite
The Manx at the Satellite, 2019. Photo by Cameron Acosta

A Massive Tribute to The Satellite and Spaceland

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After 25 years of live music, dance parties and comedic hijinks, Silver Lake’s The Satellite announced on July 17, 2020, that it would cease to exist as an entertainment venue. They’re removing the stage and transitioning into a bar/restaurant space, as it was when the Wolfram family bought it in 1967.

In a press release, owner Jeff Wolfram stated: “We can no longer afford to wait for the day we will be allowed to have shows again. If we do that, we will not have the money to continue and will be forced to close forever.” A casualty of the pandemic shutdown, it’s depressing to realize this is probably not going to be a singular occurrence. Indie venues don’t stand a chance unless we do something.

The news has flooded the Eastside music community with a wave of nostalgia. Free Monday night residencies, late-night tamales, running to the car between bands to avoid a parking ticket, falling in love, smoking cigarettes in the back room and seeing legendary acts before they were big. Boasting every kind of genre, playing the venue was a rite of passage for bands and a haven for music lovers disenchanted with the Sunset Strip.

The club may have ended its tenure under The Satellite moniker, and hosted many a great moment since the changeover in 2010-ish, but the venue’s golden age undoubtedly belongs to Spaceland, a period that ran from the mid-1990s until 2010.

What’s In a Name?

Spaceland wasn’t actually the official name of the bar. It was the name of the club night started by Mitchell Frank and his partners, who would go on to build an Eastside music empire. When Jeff Wolfram took over the family business in the mid-’90s, the venue’s name was Dreams of L.A.

Frank and former partner Nancy Whalen had been booking a night at the venue since 1993 called Pan — the name inspired by Tom Robbins’ “Jitterbug Perfume.” They changed the night’s name to Spaceland in 1995, but the venue was still called Dreams of L.A. and the sign remains to this day.

Longtime talent booker Jennifer Teft explains: “In October 2000 when I started working in the office, one of my duties was handling the LA Weekly ad which still said ‘Spaceland at Dreams of L.A.’ I didn’t like the name ‘Dreams Of L.A.,’ I thought ‘Spaceland’ was cooler. So I just took the Dreams part out of the ad.” It stuck.

Later, when the time came to changing the venue’s legal name, they landed on ‘The Satellite,’ based on an Elliott Smith song. “We had one week to decide on a new name for the club,” says Tefft. “Four people were involved in making this decision and it was the only suggestion that wasn’t hated by at least one person.”

The First Spaceland Show

Now that we have the name game mostly sorted out, it’s time to dive into a massive collection of fond memories, spanning words and photos by bands, fans, photographers and event makers, from the first official Spaceland show in 1995, all the way to March of 2020.

Brandon Jay (Lutefisk, Quazar and the Bamboozled)

My old band Lutefisk played at Dreams of L.A. when it was called Pan a number of times, when the bands played upstairs in what became the smoking lounge and then down on the floor on the opposite side of the room from where the stage is now. We played what was considered the first show as Spaceland on March 10, 1995. It was a benefit for Lutefisk as our rehearsal space got broken into and all our gear was stolen. Beck, Possum Dixon and Lutefisk were what was originally on the bill that Naomi Laguana put together. But a few days before the show, someone I think from Bill Silva Management asked if Foo Fighters could play first. It was the first time they performed in LA. They built a small stage about a foot off the ground before the show and despite it raining cats and dogs, there was a line down the block. It actually worked out great and raised us a bunch of money cause the show kind of sold out twice as most of the folks that came early to see Dave Grohl’s new band left and made room for all our regular fans to get in and sell it out again. For several years I was there what seems like almost every night we weren’t on tour.  So many great shows and memories. From seeing Ween, Pavement, Jon Spencer, to so many amazing Monday night residencies by Wiskey Biscuit, Radar Bros, The Negro Problem, Silversun Pickups, Patrick Park, Green and Yellow TV, Crack and on and on and on.

Dallas Don Burnet (Lutefisk)

I was the singer and guitar player for Lutefisk. I also played drums for Beck, and I was the bass player in Thelonious Monster for many years. I played at Spaceland with all of these groups and a few others. I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve played at Spaceland, especially with Lutefisk.

Spaceland was a great place to play, but it was also a great place to hang out. It was kind of my home away from home for most of the nineties.  I would often get there early to have some dinner before the show. There always seemed to be somebody around I could go out to the parking lot and get high with (back when I did that sort of thing).

For a while my girlfriend worked at the door, and I could usually count on Jorge the bartender to give me a free beer or two.

I witnessed a lot of great music at this place, and I forged a lot of meaningful and lasting friendships. The mid-‘90s in Silverlake was a special place at a special time and I feel so very fortunate to have been a part of it.

Near the end of the decade, I met up with a woman at Spaceland, after her band’s show. I guess that was our first date. We were married in 2001. Now Spaceland is closing and my wife and I are divorcing. So spins the circle of life. Maybe we didn’t change the world, but we sure had fun trying.

Rob Zabrecky (Possum Dixon)

Inside, a small but ample P.A. is tucked in the corner of the club, which is set up with lo-tech accommodations, producing a DIY atmosphere everyone’s familiar with. At the last minute, we were informed a new band featuring the drummer from Nirvana, calling themselves the Foo Fighters, will also appear, playing their debut show. Just before showtime, I blow it by getting a little too high, which makes it hard to get through our set. I’m trying to keep it together and play as best as I can, but I know I’m messing up. I get how awful we are because I’m too far gone to put on a good show. By the crowd’s response to our set, we are having what I’m calling an off night.

Lutefisk and Foo Fighters played loud sets that were so guitar heavy it was impossible to hear anything but distorted electric guitars. Beck seems like the only one who has a real handle on the night and deservedly stole the show. For his finale, he places a walkie-talkie right next to a microphone and starts wandering around with another walkie-talkie, ending up in the bathroom talking with someone in the toilet stall.

From Rob Zabrecky’s memoir, Strange Cures, (RothCo Press, 2019), “This is the Part Where I Tell You About Jennifer”

The Early Days

Jennifer Tefft with Dorothy, 2015

Jennifer Tefft

When I first started working at Spaceland in 1999, Elliott Smith had just moved to L.A. and he liked drinking in the upstairs bar. He would come in on Tuesdays and hang out next to me at the front door. One night Elliott was standing next to me and a guy walked in and said “Steve, is that you?” Turns out, this guy was somebody he went to school with. Elliott confessed that he changed his name because of a girlfriend who told him that Elliott was a cooler name than Steven.

Cynthia Merino

I think the thing I really remember about that period of time was that people were trying to do shows and clubs at all sorts of random places. Before Dreams, Mitchell Frank had tried out the club at some other weird restaurant on Vermont Ave. (Can’t remember the name) and Dragstrip 66 was happening monthly at Rudolpho’s (which became Home on the corner of Fletcher & Riverside). There was a raging coffee house society happening at the Onyx on Vermont but live music was still mostly happening at venues west of La Brea. Which was a lame hassle really. And after Jabberjaw closed, the scene really needed a “home.” Spaceland really became that hub, kind of like a clubhouse for the local music and arts scene, but then of course the popularity of Silver Lake and Echo Park exploded and it became like trying to go to a show in New York or something. I grew up in Silver Lake, just up the hill, and honestly, I don’t recognize any of it anymore. Some stuff is still there, some of it looks the same. It’s less about visuals than vibe really, it’s a completely different place.

David Jenkins

“I know all about Baby Lemonade. I saw them at Spaceland with Arthur,” [said] Robert Plant to my friend backstage a few years ago.

Mike Randle (LOVE, Baby Lemonade)

My favorite Spaceland memory was on April 4th, 2002, which was the time LOVE with Arthur Lee played our first live gig since May 29th, 1996 in Rotterdam, Holland. Arthur had served 5 ½ years in prison on a weapons charge and had been released four months earlier. We had a big show in May at the Knitting Factory but needed a warm-up gig. We didn’t want to hurt the ticket sales for the May show so we agreed to be billed at Spaceland as “The ANDMOREAGAINS” and let the hip LOVE fans figure it out. This especially made Liz Garo happy over at the Knitting Factory!

We rehearsed up our set and had a really good soundcheck. I know Arthur was a little nervous but it was good nervous energy. We opened with a ferocious version of “My Little Red Book” then straight into “Orange Skies.” People were screaming with joy. Arthur was smiling. Arthur introduced “Your Mind and We Belong Together” and after the song ended, with the clapping subsiding, I looked out in the audience and saw White Flag’s Bill Bartel yell, “From the Cage to the Stage!!!!” Everyone went crazy screaming and clapping and just seemed so happy to have King Arthur back in his court. That was, by far, the most moving night I ever had in Spaceland. I’ll miss that place.

Eddie Ruscha (Dub Club, Future Pigeon)

Growing up in Los Angeles I used to feel there was never a real cultural center like other large cities had. There was the all-ages Anti Club and rogue hardcore shows in the ‘80s but I was a teen at that time. In the ‘90s, Spaceland truly became that place. To watch it grow and get bigger and bigger and more interesting bands from all over the world was really exciting. Finally L.A. seemed to be on the map. I was a DJ there between bands for a good stretch so let’s just say I saw a lot of shows.

Probably my all-time favorite was seeing Damo Suzuki with Michael Karoli on guitar in 1998. Probably the closest to a true Can experience I’ve seen. In the middle of the set, they played the sound of a rippling stream and Damo went around the entire club and hugged each person there. It was so special you could feel it in the air.  

Holger Czukay and Malcolm Mooney separately played there as well.

Other great shows were John Fahey, who seemed to tune a really suspect electric guitar he borrowed from another band for 15 minutes before playing a beautiful set on it.

Ween played a drunken raucous show around the Mollusk era. I remember beer was in the air.

Elliot Smith played a show that was absolutely packed wall to wall with people and every person in there was completely silent during the songs. I’d never really seen anything like that.

The first time seeing Ariel Pink there opening for my band at the time, Future Pigeon. It was his very first show I believe and the entire club was empty but for maybe three people and Ariel was prancing around the room in pink tights with no shirt on. It was amazing to say the least. We became good friends after that.

I played there in so many different bands over so many years it’s all a blur. I do remember I had a noise band called Sneeze Mist and we had the dubious honor of having Mitchell unplug us during our set.

It’s hard to say goodbye to Spaceland but I already had many years ago when new promoters came in and things seemed to change. More vital clubs opened up. It seemed to lose direction and every time I drove by that marquee there would be some band I’d never heard of. No one seemed to mention it anymore in conversation but man that place had a great run for a while. Big thanks to Mitchell and Liz for all the support and facilitating such good times and to all the bartenders and staff.

Tsar performing at Spaceland around 1998, prior to getting signed to Hollywood Records. Photo by Piper Ferguson

Steve Coulter (Tsar, The Brothers Steve, co-editor of Go All The Way: A Literary Appreciation of Power Pop)

I remember Spaceland as a hive for L.A. musicians in the ’90s, especially the free Monday night shows. Whether you were up on the stage bashing it out, in the crowd watching your favorite new band, or breathing toxic fumes in the smoking lounge with your future bandmates, that was a really magical time and place. It was definitely exciting that my band, Tsar, got signed out of Spaceland, but I have just as many memories of watching countless other bands play. Amazing how four walls, a stage, a PA and a bar can create such an amazing scene. Bummer to lose this historic venue.

The last time I played there was around 2013 when Tsar was part of a Rolling Stones tribute night. Being up on that stage brought back a lot of fantastic memories. Funny enough, I was recently working with the booker at The Satellite for a July gig when the pandemic hit. Even after all these years, it’s the first place I think of when putting a show together. I’m guessing that will still be the case for the foreseeable future until the sad news truly sinks in.”

Corey Lee Granet (The Warlocks)

My band opened for Cat Power back when Spaceland was Pan at Dreams of L.A. There were 30 people there for both of us.

Pepper Berry (Buck)

I was the guitar player for Buck. We were around from 1998-2000. We played Spaceland so much. It was one of the first places I went to see bands play in Los Angeles. Those resident Mondays were the best.

Buck went on to tour all over the US but for some reason that little Spaceland stage seemed so much bigger to me because I had been in the audience there first before I was in a band. It was an important stage to be on.

I remember trying to convince my bandmates that we had to get a Monday night residency. They were not interested at all. They were from Canada and they didn’t understand playing for free. We finally did it and our audience grew and grew.  We made at least $100 a show just from selling merch and my bandmate Lisa I think by the third show was like, okay, I get it now.

One night after we played, Tommy Stinson, Jason Falkner and Josh Freese, who were there to see us, borrowed our equipment to play a bunch of covers. They ended up blowing up my amp.

Nora Keyes (Fancy Space People, The Centimeters)

The band I was in in the ‘90’s, The Centimeters, opened for the Frogs at Spaceland. It was a much-anticipated show in the Silver Lake music scene at the time. Mitchell Frank had flown them down, I believe, to play a couple shows. The Frogs were amazing, Jimmy and Dennis Flemion commanded and transfixed the audience into their absurd world. The place was packed. So many friends were there. My roommate had been playing their album non-stop for months before we were ever booked to play.  I remember it being surreal and magical to be playing the show and meeting them after hearing their album an unusually high number of times.

Ronnie Barnett (The Muffs)

And the gut punches keep coming. Our band played at Spaceland/The Satellite too many times to count during the club’s entire lifetime. We performed in other rooms in Los Angeles but this was the place in our hometown that we could always call at any time, put together the bills, see old friends, get treated generously, feel wanted and ever always, rock the fucking house.

There are so many memories there I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Thanks to Jennifer, Mitchell and everyone else we dealt with over the years there, you never made us feel less than special and the place will always be in our hearts and thoughts as our west coast home.

Rico Gagliano (Wall Street Journal, KCRW)

When I arrived in LA in ‘95, it was the undisputed coolest club in town, at the center of a pop scene that was threatening to go national. I saw The Negro Problem there in their first incarnation and immediately understood that there was no band like them, and no scene quite this, anywhere.

A few other memories:

The Decemberists circa 2003, with a crowd of about 50 people. (At the end of the show they announced they’d be playing a free gig at a UCLA cafeteria the next night. Went to that, too.).

A nascent Spoon, opening for Pavement.

Jens Lekman in his first US tour. Maybe 20 people in the audience. Went on a whim; had no idea what to expect. Started literally weeping halfway through his first song.

And of course the album launch party for local band Baby Lemonade. About three songs in, the frontman goes: “Okay, Nancy, care to join us?” And Nancy Sinatra comes out of the audience and sings “These Boots Were Made For Walking” with them.  At which point the frontman goes, “I guess we may as well do this all at once: Hey Brian, wanna come up here?” And Brian freaking Wilson comes up out of the audience and sings “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” with them.

I also saw my late friend Aaron Aites pop a tab of E and proceed to turn a small audience of bemused hipsters into a steamy swarm of dry-humping flesh with his IDM side project Ziegenbock Kopf. Ziegenbock Kopf was fronted by John Dwyer, now best known for his band Thee Oh Sees.

And I fell in love with indiepop legends The Lucksmiths there when they opened for my friend Jennifer’s band Ladybug Transistor.

And the one that got away: On a pal’s advice, stood in line for an hour to hear this newfangled band called The White Stripes. Got all the way to the door… when they reached capacity. “But if you wait a few minutes and someone leaves, you can go in,” the doorman said. I bailed.

Last band I saw there was the underrated Landlady. Must’ve been 2014 or something. I’m sorry, Spaceland/Satellite. This is all my fault. Really glad you’ll now be a restaurant, of course. That stretch of Silver Lake Blvd totally needs more restaurants. Not.

Brandon Wells (Wiskey Biscuit)

Wiskey Biscuit played on 9/11 after being persuaded not to cancel by many friends. People needed a break from news and lots of emotions. Was an incredible show at Spaceland that night. Pretty sure Wiskey Biscuit started the whole Monday night residency thing because we couldn’t afford a rehearsal space.

The 2000s

He’s My Brother She’s My Sister at Spaceland, 2009. Photo by Daiana Feuer

Julie Pirrone (Deap Vally, The Pity Party)

I actually fell into a total nostalgia memory hole. I spent about 15 years of my life at Spaceland as a fan, musician and employee and I have no idea how to parse out a single memory from such a vast and formative experience!

In my early 20’s, my best friend and roommate Robyn Kessel worked the door, and I’d hang with her in the tiny vestibule-within-a-vestibule that was the box office, then later in the night we’d watch the bands from behind the sound booth while Chris Swanson ran sound (highlights: Autolux, the Parlour residency, Dub Club), then at the end of the night, I’d watch Robyn climb the ladder to change the marquee. One summer I worked for Jenn Tefft in the booking office and every Thursday I would drive all over town flyering. Then when I finally started my own band with Marc Smollin (The Pity Party) we played there many times and did a Monday night residency. And my other band Deap Vally actually got discovered there — a big A&R saw us opening for another band on the Spaceland stage, and one thing led to another…

Come to think of it, I had my first ocular migraine in the smoking room upstairs on my 27th birthday.

Christine Leahey

Like many, I met my husband at The Satellite. I’ve seen dozens and dozens of shows there. It’s also the first place I ever had a tamale after moving here from Kansas!

Corey Fogel (drummer for Julia Holter)

I think a shining moment of dimension-bending absurdity was when Nora Keyes and Kevin Blechdom (+ myself on drums) procured a spot on their bill on July 28., 2010 for Justice Yeldham to perform — the now 57-year-old Australian noise artist who screams into [an] amplified glass that eventually chips away as his performance rapidly escalates to biting, soaking him in blood at every gig. A beautiful sight in the dark cozy quiet affluent safety zone of reservoir-adjacent Silver Lake Boulevard.

Miracle Days at the Satellite, 2014. Photo by Maximilian Ho

AJ Jackson (Saint Motel)

First off, is it really too late? I’m almost hesitant to get too nostalgic here because I feel like there is still a way to stop this from happening. A pandemically responsible rooftop benefit concert in hazmat suits perhaps?

It gets easier to understand how important the east side residencies were, now that they are temporarily gone. When we first moved up to Los Angeles and started playing shows, we played all over the city. Venues were often far apart, isolated, and for all but a few, they did not have built-in crowds. For these special venues to get built-in crowds, they had to build up trust with their patrons. To a point where people will go to hang out on a Monday night regardless of who is playing because you just know that if they are on that stage, it’s for a reason.

Monday nights at Spaceland were free and that meant talent bookers could choose bands for other reasons than just who would sell the most tickets. And since bands were oftentimes not playing to their own fans but rather built-in crowds who came expecting something good, they would be forced to try bold things to win them over. If you were lucky enough to get one of these coveted time slots and you did not disappoint, maybe you would have your own Monday night residency some day.

And in this world, our penchant for experimentation with live shows only increased. We played shows to rooms packed full of zombies in prom clothes, people in day-glow underwear, we had Santa Claus introduce us as our alter-ego metal band Satan Motel, we created analog video projection gear like our “Video Piano” that had to be hard-wired in and out every night, we had crowds storm the stage and lift me up while I was still singing creating some sort of surreal form of stage surfing. These residencies introduced us to friends like Young The Giant, Local Natives, Voxhaul Broadcast, Milo Greene and so, so, many other talented amazing people.

The community created by these east side Monday night residencies was so crucial to my development as a musician and human being, I sincerely hope they continue to exist for others for years to come.

Eli Chartkoff (The Monolators)

One of the best shows I’ve ever seen was at Spaceland. It was actually the first club Mary (my wife and Monolators drummer) went to together as a couple. Captured By Robots (a band made up of one guy and an all-robot backing band, these were actual robots actually playing real instruments) was onstage when we walked in and we were both kinda blown away.

We didn’t play as many Monolators shows there as some of our friends’ bands did, but we did have one of our favorite shows at Spaceland: our record release for “Don’t Dance” in 2008. At one point we had nine bass players and a giant gong onstage. It was a spectacle.

Potty Mouth at the Satellite, 2020. Photo by Sabrina Gutierrez

Diva Dompe

One time when getting the last of our stuff from the car for a show in the street behind, my bandmate and I saw a for-real-like elf goblin walk across the street. They looked like a jawa from Star Wars.

Lucy LaForge (Lucy and La Mer)

It’s the first place I ever successfully parallel parked (because I was worried about missing a band’s set!)

Kristina Bensen (L.A. Record)

I played the Satellite when I was in the Red Onions, the Commotions, Jail Weddings and Baast and saw some of my favorite shows there too — some of them were more well-known acts, like Ween; others were local but beloved artists like Oozelles. I remember advancing an Amy Winehouse show for L.A. RECORD when she played the Satellite a million years ago when it was still called Spaceland — I think that was way back in 2006. It’s really the end of an era.

Shane Carpenter

When I went to an Entrance Band show in 2012. Jeffertitti’s Nile opened so I stayed in the front middle because I wanted to be close for entrance also. Then Guy came out and put down his set list. I had never seen a set list that long for a local show. (I still haven’t.) I was already burning out from the intensity of Jeffertitti’s set so the length of the set list kinda shook me. But I was going to go the distance because the night was so electric. I think Entrance played for like an hour and a half and it was the most fun kind of chaos with people going on stage and dancing with the band members, stage diving, etc. After the show ended I remember just leaning against the stage and feeling the sort of exhilaration one feels after they have scaled a mountain, looking down at the valley in a sort of awe.

Joel Albers (Dance Yourself Clean)

I think the memory that carries the most weight for me would be after the first night of hosting “Dance Yourself Clean” at The Satellite. Andrew and I stood underneath the marquee with big smiles on our faces while we gave each other a big celebratory hug. We had just moved the party from The Short Stop and at the time we had no idea if this was going to work out or not. The success of our first night there was a surreal experience and it changed our lives forever. We’ll always be grateful for that.

Paul Tao (Iamsound Records)

My favorite memory from Spaceland/Satellite was 2009. I had just landed back in LA from a flight from London in the early evening and was so incredibly jetlagged, but as soon as I dropped off my things at home, the first thing I did was turn around and drive to Spaceland for the Local Natives residency. This was during a great run of residencies when it felt like every L.A. band who had that Monday night residency started really getting some industry traction. The LN guys were friends of mine and it felt like a celebration as they were starting to rise, the show was the packed, and it was just such a fun night.

Douggpound (Pound Town, 2WetCrew Live!)

Some of my favorite memories: Martin Short showing up to co-host 2 Wet Crew with us but he ended up just roasting Mikey (Kampmann). One time John C. Reilly judged one of our pun battles while wearing a clown mask. The Satellite ruled. It was the place to go on Sunday nights. The comedians were free to get weird in there, I loved that place. My very favorite memory has to be Brody Stevens roaming through the crowd with a selfie stick and no microphone, live-streaming his whole set for maybe an hour. He always had me in tears.

Hannah (Leggy Peggy)

On November 22, 2017, I walked from my apartment in Echo Park to the Satellite. With my phone battery on the fritz and my debit card nowhere to be found, I put some cash in my pocket and headed to see one of my girlfriends, Kat Meyers, put on a killer benefit show including Ben Reddell, Elijah Ocean, Eli Wulfmeier, Mara Connor, Nightingale Rodeo, Sam Morrow and many others. It was a show I had to attend.

Walking up, I noticed this Tall Drink of Water. He looked a bit rough around the edges, wearing his weathered brown cowboy hat and, dripping in turquoise, dressed perfectly cheesy in his get-up. At that moment I said to myself, “Hannah, get drunk enough to go talk to that man.”

So I did. When I made that final eye contact about to head right for him — I had to check my constantly dying phone to make sure if I bombed I could escape — my phone FLEW out of my hands. Headed straight toward him!

Luckily I have no shame so I picked up my phone and went over to him, stage left. Him, sitting on a high stool at those classic tall round tables for two. We chatted a bit. I knew he was a very kind man instantly.

Then I asked him if he liked firepits and if he wanted to hang for a bit. He said he would love to! In the Lyft home (I had him call, phone died) with the beer I had him buy (spent all my cash), we talked about the show and Spaceland, now The Satellite, animals and country music. I was hooked.

If not for the Satellite, and that show, I wouldn’t be 2.5 years into the healthiest relationship imaginable. With the greatest man on this planet.

Dreamers at the Satellite. Photo by Sabrina Gutierrez

Seraphina Lotkhamnga (Pulse Music Group)

I’ve spent not only a good chunk of my 20’s at the Satellite (starting when it was still called Spaceland) but my most formative years as a person who was trying to find herself during the first handful of years as a new Los Angeles transplant by way of Michigan.

Most Monday nights were at Spaceland since they were one of the four music venues holding monthly residencies. I often went to three or four different venues on Mondays to take advantage of these free shows and to discover new talent, but none of them felt like home like Spaceland did at the time.

As a former smoker, I loved the bar in the smoking lounge located in the back of the venue. I loved Walter’s warm greetings at the door, Sylvia’s swiftness behind the bar, and how you were surrounded by fellow-music lovers when you went outside between sets for a breath of fresh air.

I remember being packed like sardines in there for the first Local Natives residency. I remember having to get the “Can I get you a cup of coffee” mug after an Art Brut show. I remember when Mavis Staples told me she loved my smile from the stage (because that woman just makes me smile). I remember Teri of Les Butcherettes showing me what badass looked like. I remember Haim having people go “Who ARE these girls?” after a set. I remember Booker T. Jones throwing down. I even remember Imagine Dragons playing a 9 o’clock set for one of those residency nights.

It breaks my heart that this legendary venue has to close its doors but I’m so thankful it was there for the most important years of my life.

Whitmer and Pals dressed up for Joker Fest

Whitmer Thomas (Whitmer & Pals)

I started doing a show at The Satellite 5 years ago. There were only a couple comedy shows there a month and our audience took a little bit to build. Eventually, they became one of the best places to see comedy with a whole bunch of really great shows.

The Satellite was cool enough to let me and my friends be annoying on stage for a couple of hours a month and get paid. There isn’t [sic] many other venues on the east side that do that. Eventually, they allowed me to start working out my hour show of stand up and music. It was way better at the Satellite because they had Stu, their engineer, who would make all the music sound killer. Way better than it would at any other venue.

The whole team working at The Satellite were really special, cool people and I’m happy we became pals. Gonna miss seeing them at that place. I can firmly say that without The Satellite, I don’t think I would have ever been let into the Hollywood biz part of comedy the way I have been.

Performing regularly at the venue made me seem much cooler than I actually am. It’s a devastating blow. It was my favorite place to perform. It was L.A.’s beacon of hope in an at times depressing live alt-comedy and music scene. I keep thinking of what the scene will be like when shows start again. For the months since the pandemic started, I’ve looked forward to hanging and performing at The Satellite the most. Things simply ain’t gonna be the same.

Los Angeleno