San Francisco is notorious for its unique and passionate music scene. Since the 60s, the burgeoning community of artists has continued to grow, sometimes in very unexpected places. Coffee shops, parks, even squatted buildings have all been likely locations for music to happen, usually co-existing alongside well-known venues that attracted people from all over the US. According to Hoodline, this tradition continues onward with the announcement of a new music venue appearing at 10 South Van Ness Avenue, titled SVN West.
If this location as a music venue sounds familiar to you, that’s because it should be—it used to be the home of the Fillmore West, one of San Francisco’s most iconic music venues. Artists like The Grateful Dead, Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac, and Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young would frequently play there in the 60s and early 70s. It became a staple in the Bay Area music scene in both of its iterations (first being named The Carousel Ballroom, then renamed Fillmore West when taken over by Bill Graham). During the late 60s, bands would flow in and out of Fillmore West, with many iconic performances being staged here by icons such as Janis Joplin and Miles Davis. As you can imagine, a wide variety of people would flock to the venue in order to catch these performances, with the venue’s large capacity being able to accommodate many of those who were in attendance.
Despite this large cultural presence, Fillmore West maintained a communal aspect, like many of the hippie-oriented communities that existed in Haight-Ashbury and surrounding areas of San Francisco. At concerts, it became common to have fruit and food for attendees, with a largely casual atmosphere preceding any notion of a concert.
Unfortunately, the venue would go on to close in July of 1971, where it eventually became a Honda dealership. Thus ended the legacy of one of the Bay Area music scene’s most recognizable venues until things changed slightly in 2014: the property was purchased once again by the Miami company Crescent Heights, who later proclaimed they would be constructing a large tower and midrise towards the end of the year. Since then, little has been heard about the upheaval or what this meant for the future of the space until recently when it was announced that a new music venue SVN West would open to host concerts once again.
Having a live music venue with such historical roots back in circulation may mean that the San Francisco music scene will return to the glory it once held. Currently, the startup culture that surrounds the area provides economic tension for artists and gentrification has made areas like Haight-Ashbury become too gentrified for many artists to live in, largely ignoring the history that proceeded it.
SVN West is set to open on June 14 with a capacity for over 3,000 individuals. The first concert at the live music venue will be a fundraising show for Project Reckless, a non-profit that aims to familiarize marginalized youth with the tools to restore cars.
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Creative Commons