Los Angeles gets a welcome addition to its stable of midsize music venues with this new club on the edge of Downtown L.A. The Bellwether features a 1,600-person main room (for comparison, that’s bigger than the Fonda but smaller than the Wiltern) that touts an adjoining restaurant (the Virginian), lobby bar, open-sided terrace and private event space.
Even if you’re hanging out at the back bar or posted up on the wraparound balcony, you’re never far from the stage here—a kind of remarkably intimate setting given the festival-caliber acts that populate the calendar. The balcony is actually quite roomy, but given the angle you won’t be able to see the stage if you have more than one person in front of you. Downstairs, if you stroll up to a show just before the set starts, you’ll likely be in the back towards the bar; the sightlines are still pretty good from that far back, and you’ll actually be considerably cooler since you’re not far from the A/C vents. During our visit to an opening week show, the sound was alright, but hopefully that improves over time.
The venue is the latest venture from Michael Swier, who runs the Teragram Ballroom and Moroccan Lounge (and launched New York’s Bowery Ballroom) and has teamed up with Bay Area promoter Another Planet Entertainment.
As for the music, the Bellwether debuts with an absolutely stellar lineup, including Phantogram (July 11, grand opening), Tycho (July 13), HAIM (July 17, 18), Andrew Bird (July 21), Porter Robinson (July 27–29), Santigold (Aug 8), Carly Rae Jepsen (Aug 11, 12), Tegan and Sara (Aug 14), Isaiah Rashad (Aug 18), a Fool’s Gold 15th anniversary party with A-Trak (Aug 26), Princess (Sept 23), Yo La Tengo (Sept 29) and Wilco (Oct 11).
You’ll find the venue at 333 South Boylston Street, just on the other side of the 110 from DTLA, right next to L.A. Center Studios. There’s a paid lot directly across the street, as well as two others nearby, but expect them to fill up very quickly—for a sold-out show, that lot right across the street is likely to be full shortly after doors open. Consider arriving early and either eating at the on-site restaurant or hailing a rideshare to eat elsewhere in DTLA (the venue is in sort of a no man’s land of dining options, so you won’t find anything in walking distance, and the sloped, freeway-adjacent, detritus-dotted blocks aren’t really conducive to walking).
For each show, you can also book tickets for the Looking Glass Lounge, a buy-up option that includes a dedicated entrance, bar and bathroom, as well as a roped off viewing area in the balcony. Given what we mentioned about the balcony sightlines, the reserved area isn’t really worth it if you can’t squeeze your way to the front, so the extra fee really comes down to just how much you want the lounge experience.