By Steve Palopoli
Just when the South Bay live music gets back on its own two feet again, along comes something new to kick a leg out from under it. VooDoo Lounge, the 300-capacity nightclub that’s brought the most diverse mix of shows to downtown San Jose for the last 11 years, is closing at the end of February.
While other clubs—most recently the Blank—have owned the scene’s indie-rock cred, VooDoo made its name with a more eclectic mix—just about every week featured hip hop, rock, punk and/or metal, along with every conceivable subgenre. Country outlaw David Allan Coe played the same week as rap freak Blowfly.
About three years ago, VooDoo stepped up its game to pursue national touring bands. Suddenly, bigger acts like Rev. Horton Heat, Coe and the Supersuckers, who been skipping over the South Bay on their tours, were dropping into downtown. So is VooDoo’s shuttering a sign that their agenda was too ambitious?
No, says manager Anthony Hall. It’s true that at over
$14,000 $12,500 every month, the rent had to sting. But Hall says what really did in the club was a recent inspection after which the city informed the owners that certain areas—most notably, the “green room” where artists prepare for shows backstage—were not up to code. Estimates on the construction costs were around $60,000. The confusing part for the VooDoo crew is…why now? All of the architecture the city cited had been in place long before the club moved in. Hall finds it particularly hard to swallow when the club has been trying to do something positive downtown. “Other clubs have these shootings and stabbings,” he says. “We haven’t had one incident in all these years.”
UPDATE/CORRECTION: VooDoo Lounge co-owner Dave Powell reports that some of the information in the original article posted this morning was incorrect because the source, his manager, “had only a vague idea” of what was happening. Corrections have been made in the text.
Powell says the city inspections happened several years ago, and that the city planners, including Lee Wilcox and Joe Horwedel, “have been great.” While he said his monthly rent is not $14,000 as originally reported, he said the $12,500 he does pay is crippling. He said other landlords have dropped rent in recent years due to the economic downturn—Powell also owns the San Jose Bar and Grill, Tres Gringos and the Los Gatos Bar and Grill. —Editor