Features Music 25 Years of The Glass House... or an Ode to Live Music While in a Pandemic

Music: 25 Years of The Glass House... or an Ode to Live Music While in a Pandemic

Bit by bit, the venue and the city around it, was slowly starting to change. Buildings have been demolished. Others have been renovated. As Tim Kasher of Cursive and The Good Life recollects, "...our first Glass House show was quite a while ago. Many years ago. Early 2000s. Have played there many times since. The Glass House has physically changed since then -- the bar next door used to be attached, as I recall, and had a much smaller room and stage. I think The Good Life opened for The Gloria Record in that room, and that may have been my first time at The Glass House! That would've been the year 2000, I think, maybe 2001...As for the city, [it] feels like I've been watching the slow shift for so long now, restaurants coming and going... I quite like it around there. I remember when 2nd Street was dressed up for Cat In The Hat for a while? That was fun. They should've kept all that stuff up."

Jeremy Bolm/Touche Amore

In the back half of 2006, The Glass House Record Store opened for business just a few doors down from the venue. Not long after, they began housing smaller touring bands. Over the next few years, I'd find myself returning to Pomona more and more, splitting my time between The Concert Hall and the Record Store. Now that I had a license and was driving myself, I was sometimes heading out to Pomona for shows multiple times a week. Some nights I'd be at The Glass House seeing bands like Thursday with Portugal, The Man, Tegan & Sara, or Circa Survive with The Dear Hunter, and some nights I was at the record store seeing AJJ, Lemuria, and Polar Bear Club. The first time I ever saw The World/Inferno Friendship Society was at the GHRS with what seemed like maybe 7 or 8 other people dressed as if they were attending a roaring ‘20s party. It's probably the only time I ever felt under-dressed for a punk show. It wasn't uncommon for shows to happen at both locations on the same day. One time I headed out early to catch Cobra Skulls and O Pioneers!!! at the GHRS before walking the few doors down to see Hot Water Music's reunion in 2008 with Strike Anywhere. Even Chuck Ragan took the time to wander in to catch Cobra Skulls' set.

Over time, the Record Store began to feel like it had its own camaraderie separate from the venue. I was starting to see familiar faces more frequently at the record store. This group of people were filled with boisterous energy and rooting for the "local" band we'd travel around So-Cal to see in basements, living rooms, and coffee shops. Touche Amore would go on to be one of those bands I'd see explode and make their way up the Pomona-venue food chain: from The GHRS to the Concert Hall, and finally to The Fox Theatre around the block from The Glass House. Frontman, Jeremy Bolm, reminisces, "When Touche Amore started, some of our earliest shows were in the record store next door. Playing on the floor to 35 kids in an environment we, according-to-some, should have never outgrown. A year and some weeks after first playing the store we got to play the actual venue as a first of four opening for Thursday. It was that show that solidified how the Glass House makes me feel. You never can tell how big or small the room actually is. From the stage, it looks massive. From the floor, it looks wide. When the show is full it feels hectic. When the attendance is thin… big again. My favorite part of playing there is the room you have to play with. The wideness makes you feel like you’re a bug on the breast of a condor who’s showing off its wingspan, just bouncing back and forth."

Jack Antonoff/fun.

By the middle of 2012, I was working more, but writing for SPB helped to keep me involved with music, and that included going to shows. It also allowed me to explore my interest in photography further. I now had more opportunities to photograph the bands I loved at The Glass House like Cursive and Hot Water Music. The venue was becoming a place I just liked to be around. When Refused announced their reunion and that they would be playing The Glass House, my heart stopped. However, disappointment struck when tickets sold out the instant they went on sale. This didn't stop me and my wife from still driving down just to stand outside and listen. We arrived early in hopes that just maybe, by some miracle, we'd somehow get in. I wanted nothing more than to join the line of would-be attendees that couldn't hide their excitement if they tried. Even AFI's Davey Havok was amongst the queue with an eager smile on his face. However, later that night when the band hit the stage, my wife and I would be stuck at the doors with a small gaggle of fans that were just as unlucky as we were. At the very least, the doorman was kind enough to oblige anyone looking to buy a shirt so as not to leave empty-handed. In the end, it didn't matter that we didn't get in. The high spirits and atmosphere that surrounded the venue was enough to keep us standing in front and listening in.

Like most adults, it's become difficult trying to balance work, life, and personal interests. Up until a year ago, I was still doing my best to not miss a show, but trips to The Glass House were becoming more sparse. I've become that tired, run-down, cliché of an adult and it sucks. You anticipate it as you grow up, but no one ever really tells you just how hard it can be to keep that youthful part of you active. Every once in a while when I return to The Glass House, I catch a glimpse of those same faces from 10 years ago and I wonder if they still attend shows regularly or if they've become as selective as I have. Admittedly, I'm a relatively shy person, and introducing myself to these people always seemed out of the question. The Concert Hall has gone through some changes over the years, but the audience still remains the same. Seeing these people adds a comfort and familiarity that keeps the venue special to me.

Chuck Ragan/Hot Water Music

March 7, 2020 was the last time I stepped into The Glass House. I can still remember my wife and I talking about how more and more Coronavirus infections were being confirmed as we headed west on the 60 to Pomona for White Reaper. What I didn't realize was that soon after that night, Covid cases would increase at a rapid rate, and that night would be the last time I stepped into a venue for the foreseeable future. Live music has been such a big part of so many people's lives and, at the drop of a dime, it was taken away. It's difficult to lose a place where you feel like you belong or are a part of something -- and for some people, that place is in a crowd all sharing a common interest. As hard as it could be for the concert-going devotees, it's the people that provide these spaces that have been hit hardest. The Glass House is just one of the thousands of venues that had to close their doors due to the growing pandemic. Some permanently like L.A.'s The Satellite or San Francisco's Slims. However, The Glass House has managed to stay afloat just as the light at the end of the tunnel begins to grow.

At the end of 2020, the Save Our Stages Act passed Congress, meaning relief would be coming to all the venues that remain standing during the pandemic, but the process has been slow-moving. Jon Halperin, who moved from booking shows at Anaheim's Chain Reaction to booking The Glass House in 2006, notes that, "We haven't received relief, but will apply once the portal opens. We are down to a skeleton crew of three with a reduced salary. It's been really rough of course. We have September down as our opening, but if everything is looking amazing, we might open a bit earlier... if things get bad again, of course, we will wait. We won't open until it's safe and we can operate at 100% capacity. We've been booking bands this whole time! Booking, moving, booking, moving. Right now, we have 30+ shows booked and hundreds of holds and offers out!" Some of those shows have already gone on sale with artists like Armor For Sleep, IDLES, and Summer Salt booked for the fall. As for The Glass House still celebrating its 25th anniversary? "We Shall See..."

Tim Kasher/Cursive

With everything shut down, this past year has allowed me to reflect and yearn for live music more than ever. When the world permits, I want to make my way past the bars and shops that line 2nd Street, walk through those glass doors, and feel that room rumble. I want to glance around the dance floor and see those familiar faces that make me feel like I'm home. Live music is a therapy and a release, and despite all the time I've spent at The Glass House, I can't help but feel like I've taken it for granted. I'm ready to feel a part of something again. Kasher puts it best, "The crowd is one of the most welcoming crowds I've ever experienced: no pretensions, [it] just feels as though we are all there for the same thing, to celebrate music and attempt a memorable evening. I have a lot of love and respect for that attitude, and feel it's appropriate to credit the folks running The Glass House for helping foster such a supportive fanbase."

White Reaper from my last visit to The Glass House

Thank you to everyone at The Glass House! I can't wait to sing-along again!


Related feature: Guest List: Top Glass House Shows

We asked the staff at The Glass House to tell us their top 5 favorite shows they've hosted. Go check out their most memorable Glass House shows here!

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Words by Aaron H on May 15, 2021, 8:30 a.m.

Thanks to Joe Escalante, Sergie Loobkoff, Dominic Davi, Jeremy Bolm, and Tim Kasher for taking the time to answer my questions, and a special thanks to Jon Halperin! You were the unsung hero of my adolescence. Be sure to check out Jon's top 5 shows at The Glass House, as well Jenn Salvadori (Glass House Manager), over at our new feature, The Guest List!

KFAI - Undead
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25 Years of The Glass House... or an Ode to Live Music While in a Pandemic

Posted by Aaron H on May 15, 2021, 8:30 a.m.

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KFAI - Root Of All Evil

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