On January 25, 1996, local concert promoters (and brothers) Paul and Perry Tollett officially opened The Glass House in the Pomona Arts District.
Having previously booked ska shows and bands like The Ramones and Rage Against the Machine in venues across the region, the Tolletts enlisted their friends No Doubt to liven up the new venue for two nights. The Anaheim-based band had released “Tragic Kingdom” three months earlier and was starting to gain mainstream attention.
“At that time our album ‘Tragic Kingdom’ was taking off on the radio, and it was great to play at Glass House right before it moved to bigger venues like Irvine Meadows and the Pond. [now Honda Center]No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont recalled. âThese Glass House shows were classic ’90s No Doubt club shows – everyone packed like sardines, bouncing, dancing and singing together in a beautiful hot and sweaty mess.â
The 800-capacity building at the corner of Thomas and West 2nd Street, which was once a Thrifty Drugstore for decades, would become an iconic venue for all ages nurturing young talent and serving as a must-see stage for the big-name ones. also artists.
It didn’t have the appeal of Orange County clubs or the Hollywood marching band, but that’s exactly why the Tollett brothers chose the location. The couple, who both attended nearby Cal Poly Pomona and went on to create festivals like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and country music festival, Stagecoach, wanted a venue that served the community they came to.
“The idea was that they were going to college there and they were fed up with driving to LA or Orange County for shows, so they started booking shows at Pomona to give something for the kids to do and selfishly give yourself something to do and go see all these bands, âsaid Jon Halperin, Glass House talent buyer, who has been working at the site since 2006.
Initially, the venue hosted shows by established artists like Tool, Social Distortion, Garbage, Fishbone, Sublime, Cheap Trick, The Vandals, and The Offspring.
âYou could play The Glass House and then you could go on and play Orange County or Los Angeles and it wouldn’t interfere that much,â said Vandals bassist Joe Escalante. “They just created another cool market where bands could go out and play of a certain size.”
Escalante’s label, Kung Fu Records, has recorded and released several live DVD and Blu-ray discs of The Glass House, including evenings with Tsunami Bomb, Bouncing Souls and The Vandals. He also filmed his television series “Fear of a Punk Planet” and an independent film, “Cake Boy”, on location.
Escalante said he would travel to The Glass House to see bands on his downtime evenings, and the Vandals have performed there on a number of occasions, including opening for No Doubt in 1997 and 1999. The Glass House hosted The Vandals Independence Day Eve Patriot Show and Revue in 2014 and 2015.
Acts that would sell theaters on a larger scale around the world – like Kara’s Flowers (which later became Maroon 5), Avenged Sevenfold, Vampire Weekend, Black Keys, and Bloc Party – all performed at The Glass House.
âI remember booking Death Cab for Cutie when they only sold 40 tickets,â said Eric Milhouse, former Glass House buyer / talent manager, who worked on the site between 2002 and 2006. Milhouse is now Talent Director for Nederlander Concerts. âJust seeing their careers take off, being excited and investing in them was so cool. There were so many bands that were about to take off, like Queens of the Stone Age, Cursive, Bright Eyes, The Faintâ¦ it was an exciting time.
Thanks to its ties to Coachella, the venue was also a place for artists to perform while they were on the West Coast for the festival or between the two Coachella weekends. In the past, the place has booked artists like Bauhaus, The Pixies, Jenny Lewis, Future Islands, and The Jesus and Mary Chain during this time. Even though the audience for some acts exceeded the club space, they always made The Glass House a priority.
âIn 2002 we booked The White Stripes just as they really blew up and the place sold out. And just as the date for the show was coming up, they were nominated for something and were to be or perform at an awards show in LA that same night, âMilhouse said.
âWe were like, ‘Oh man, they’re going to cancel’ and they said, ‘Yeah, we sort of need to do something else. But for some reason Jack White loved the place and had a special place in his heart for Paul. [Tollett] and they found a way to do both things that night. Word was they hired a helicopter because LA traffic would have been horrible and they did and performed the show. It’s wild because we’re like a dirty club, but that was the principle. Like, they didn’t want to disappoint the fans.
It wasn’t just the rock bands that helped establish The Glass House. Halperin remembers hiring Sonny Moore, who came to be known professionally as Skrillex, to DJ between the bands on location in the early 2000s and watching rapper Logic go from part one to part one. headliner for the general public. The Glass House has always been a place that showcased a wide variety of talent, whether it be punk, indie rock, screamo, EDM or hip-hop. The goal has always been and still is to “book what the kids want to see,” added Halperin.
âIf it was 2 Chainz or The Gossip, then you book these artists,â he said. “Until a few years ago the place did not serve alcohol, so the shows were really aimed at 15-25 year olds.”
In 2012, The Glass House was granted permits to serve alcohol, a move taken to attract additional artists and patrons with the ability to sell alcoholic beverages at shows. It also pairs well with the nearby Acerogami bar, which Perry Tollett opened in 2009.
âHere’s something a lot of people might not know, but Perry built this bar, like the current bar, the chairs and the tablesâ¦ It wasn’t outsourced,â Halperin said. âPerry welds and builds the barricades at Coachella in his metal shops. Hey, if they could resist Rage Against the Machine at Coachella, they can resist someone sitting on the bar or on a stool.
The Glass House has also housed a full record store for 15 years, of which it now offers a touring version onsite on Coachella Festival weekends each year to sell albums and host artist signings.
âIt started out as just CDs, and about five years ago Paul got really into vinyl and met this kid, Alex Rodriguez, who was just an expert and he took over the store and made it. made it a real hit, âHalperin said.
There’s still a DIY spirit about The Glass House, Milhouse said, which is why he thinks it has been and still is a hit 25 years later.
âIt was Coachella’s training and training ground,â he said. âWorking for Perry there, it was like we all wore different hats and it was like the ultimate school where you go to, learn and do things yourself. We were still figuring it out. and we were encouraged to be creative. I learned a lot about architecture and design and we built a bar and a record store and made all the shelves and storage bins. It’s just that bunch of misfits who are all hardcore music fans, and it was really cool just watching it all grow up.
There was hope of having a big 25th anniversary celebration with groups who helped build The Glass House, but due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, in-person celebrations will have to wait. However, the site sells limited edition short-sleeved birthday t-shirts ($ 25 to $ 29) and crew-neck sweatshirts ($ 45 to $ 49) through the end of January via theglasshouse.us .