The Frame

Movies, music, TV, arts and entertainment, straight from Southern California. Hosted by John Horn

What will happen to LA's underground music scene after Oakland warehouse fire?

by John Horn and Jonathan Shifflett | The Frame

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Up to 40 people are feared dead in a huge fire that tore through a warehouse party in Oakland. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The fire that broke out Friday at an Oakland building known as Ghost Ship has claimed at least 36 lives; that number is sadly expected to rise. 

The tragedy has shaken not only Oakland’s underground music community, but also an entire nation of artists and their fans.

One of the acts scheduled to perform at the Oakland venue was signed to 100% Silk, an L.A.-based label specializing in underground house and experimental noise music. The label has reported that some of its artists are still missing

In order to understand how this tragedy might increase restrictions on L.A.’s own do-it-yourself venues, we reached out to Emily Friedlander this morning. She’s editor-in-chief of Thump. That’s the electronic music and culture channel from Vice Media, and she's also the co-founder of AdHoc, a Brooklyn-based events collective. 

When she spoke with The Frame's host, John Horn, Friedlander said the L.A. underground music scene is "very large and very active." She explained that even above-ground venues struggle to keep up with the costs of attaining permits, and that underground venues are by their very nature fleeting.

Like in all cities, the warehouse scene and the D-I-Y scene in general is kind of a moving target. Places open up and become really special to their communities for a couple of years and then they're inevitably forced to shutter. 

In light of the tragedy in Oakland, Friedlander fears that local governments may take a hard-line approach to managing underground venues. In Los Angeles, one city councilman is asking for the public's help in reporting illegally-converted buildings. But Friedlander hopes that cities don't issue a blanket crackdown on such spaces.

The cities could acknowledge that these places are an inevitability and will always continue to operate, no matter what, and take a different approach to having more dialogue with [residents], letting them know what the regulations are and helping them to find more cost affordable ways to get up to code.

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