Yesterday Joker Productions announced they’re calling it quits and closing up shop here in Pittsburgh. The Post-Gazette did a little write-up on it, and I have to give them props for bowing out gracefully. Yes, the promoting industry here in Pittsburgh is competitive, but they aren’t taking the low road and blaming the competition for what ultimately was out of their hands. It’s been a good run, so in honor of Joker’s resignation, we’d like to revisit the venue that was instrumental to their success, Club Laga.
Anyone whose lived in Pittsburgh before 2004 has at least one memory of Laga, most of which are fond. Who better to celebrate the heyday of this legendary venue than those who frequented the club? Their MySpace contains an appropriately-nostalgic write-up of the venue, stating:
“Things started off slow at Laga in the early years of venue. Within the first few years, Laga was hosting what would eventually be some of the largest touring artists in the country…New artists such as Stereolab, Bouncing Souls, At The Drive In, Alkaline Trio, Dashboard Confessional, Jurassic 5 and other were now requesting to perform at Laga when Pittsburgh came up as a potential stop on their tour…Laga would eventually end up in Pollstar magazine’s Top National Venues for sales from 2000 to 2004….The hammer would fall on Laga, Joker Productions and the staff of the venue in late fall early winter of 2003/2004 when ownership had decided that it was time to move in a different direction…This came to a shock to everyone including the live music industry, which had come to love this unique Pittsburgh club…It was a sad day. Laga had entered the graveyard of defunct live music venues: Graffiti, Metropol, Rosebud, The Decade & The Beehive.” – Club Laga’s MySpace
This makes me tear up a bit. It’s a good thing things have finally started to pick up around here, or else I might have to cry myself to sleep listening to Celine Dion songs. Glad it hasn’t come to that. I asked our readers to share some of their fondest experiences from the Laga days. I also stole a few quotes from Facebook’s In Remembrance of Club Laga page (which is about to be archived, so peep that shit while you still can). Hope nobody minds. Enjoy!
“I remember my friend and I coming to shows with crutches saying we need to use the piece of shit elevator so we could be the first ones up stairs! It worked everytime for years we did that! Can’t believe they never remembered us. We would stash the crutches just inside the stage next to the speakers and almost forgot them every time we had to come back up the stairs to get them and then ride the elevator back down. Good times.” – Kylie Parison-Herron
“Club Laga was the greatest Concert venue in North America. The first time I played there I was 14. TBP opened for Ruder Than You. And we headlined the last show ever there. I know we weren’t everyones cup of tea, but we had played in this city for a decade by the time we broke up(which wasn’t long after). Club Laga was very good to us and I was very proud to be part of it’s send off. Everyone that came out that last night both fans of the bands and just fans of the club were wonderful and the synergy of everyone coming together was like nothing I have seen since. In all of the years The Berlin Project spent touring North America, I never came across another club that could even contend.” – John Garrighan
“Spent at least 1 night a week there from ’96-’02…played many a shows there during ska’s 3rd wave in one of Pittsburgh’s many local ska bands. Got to play sax on stage with The Toasters, and saw many many many awesome shows there. Man, there is SUCH a hole in my heart without this place.” – Ian Wisbon
“I saw the Distillers and AFI at Laga. Brody split her lip on the mic and spit blood on me. It was around Halloween so AFI did Fall Children and a few other seasonal favorites. I’m pretty sure they also played the Misfits’ Halloween. One of the best shows I ever saw. I miss Laga.” – Doug Bednarski
“I saw Ben Kweller and Death Cab for Cutie in high school at Laga. Ben Kweller was the nicest dude ever, signed my poster, and admitted to me he was very stoned. Ben Gibbard, on the other hand, told someone to shut up when they requested ‘This Charming Man.'” – Bonus Chopper
“I saw Kool Kieth there and he showed up 2 hours late then threw fried chicken into the audience dressed like Black Elvis…. it was awesome. Also the Groove parties were awesome. Anyone remember the Buzzcocks, Lunachicks, Fastbacks, and Donnas show? Oh and one more Liars/ Yeahs Yeahs Yeahs.”
– Jeremy Kayble
“I, along with one of SF’s legendary [KONTROL] party founders, threw an afterparty called Afterglo there from 2 till 6 am on fridays from 1998 – 2000. Regularly we had the place packed with dancing, nutty college kids. As I am typing this, I realized I don’t want any of the ‘amazing’ stories from that era to be leaked anywhere.” – Ryan Walsh
We also read a lot about people going home with pieces of the floor. That doesn’t sound sanitary. Ya’wl probably died by now from contamination, so RIP to you too.