By Ramon Gonzales
Before closing its doors in the spring of 2016, the House of Blues Anaheim had racked up some 4,000 shows in a span of 15 years. During its tenure as an anchor of Downtown Disney, the venue had become an entertainment destination that crossed generational lines. Fans from Southern California and beyond had nearly two decades worth of memories backed by a historic catalog of performances that solidified the legacy and importance of the venue.
Considering that kind of nostalgia, the reintroduction of Anaheim’s new House of Blues location at GardenWalk had the difficult task of ushering in an era of modernity, while retaining the charm that had made the venue so enduring for all of its previous years. While still in the thick of construction, this multi-room, multi-stage destination already has the makings of becoming the new standard for live music and entertainment. The first new facility to be built in over 10 years, Anaheim will be the flagship of the House of Blues 11-city national footprint.
At the core of the venue, the restaurant boasts a 325-person occupancy with a sprawling open patio ideal for Southern California dining. Southern comfort food, expertly crafted cocktails, and a meticulous craft beer program segues into a culinary experience that pairs perfectly with the ambiance and live music programming. One of four stages in the building, the restaurant will feature singer-songwriters and a soundtrack that compliments a gathering at the table.
In what’s likely to become one of the chicest music halls in the country, the Parish might be the coolest corner of the building. The 400-person capacity room continues with the New Orleans’ motif punctuated by stained glass windows and a 100-year old antique wooden arch that adorns the stage. Designed with intimacy in mind, the room is ideal for standing room performances, listening parties, and even corporate events looking for something hip.
When the Sunset location closed its doors, the era of the Foundation Room in Southern California also came to an end. The VIP component of House of Blues was always the red carpet rollout at the rock show. Doubling as the venue’s VIP lounge, the room became the stuff of backstage lore and earning a reputation for impromptu performances and tastefully-posh parties. Anaheim’s restoration of the Foundation Room is a 175-person hall that touts a balance of exclusivity with zero pretenses. Giving members as well as designated guests a unique House of Blues experience, those fortunate enough to set foot inside will get the chance to mingle in specially detailed digs. Designed with woodwork that was salvaged from the original Sunset location as well as pieces from the New Orleans warehouse that was flooded by Hurricane Katrina, the ethos of House of Blues is reiterated in its Foundation Room.
Outside of all the amenities of the Anaheim House of Blues, the main hall alone is an ambitious undertaking that should excite Southern California music fans. The three-tiered 2,200-person capacity room is a shining example of ingenuity with regards to live entertainment. Ensuring that there is not a bad spot in the house, overlooked but essential details like the audience’s line of sight went into the design of the venue. Big enough to compliment the spectacle of a grand scale production, but not too big so as to lose the intimacy, SoCal likely has another jewel in its cultural crown. Standing in the still-under-construction space, the idea of taking in a show from the likes of The Pixies, Death Cab for Cutie, The Growlers, The Kills, 311, Anderson .Paak, Billy Idol, Wu-Tang Clan, or scoring a ticket to the opening double-header with Social Distortion is enough to provoke goosebumps.
In a region where trends are especially fleeting, the new House of Blues Anaheim is shifting their focus to include core concepts that are beyond any fad. Good food, proper drink, and a diverse roster of entertainment is a healthy way to ensure relevance and reach. If the idea of catching a live show has grown stale, there are plenty of reasons to be stoked again.
Opening night is slated for Feb. 28th. Get a full list of shows and purchase tickets here.