The response to our announcement that we would be ending the weekly Das Bunker events at the Catch One was overwhelming to say the least, and we truly feel that the last eight weeks of our run will go down as one of the greatest two month spans in industrial clubbing history. We have all of you to thank for this, and we could not say thank you for all the years of support nearly enough. That said, the question everyone has is why we decided to pull the plug and we promised that once we had wrapped up the final event we would answer.
In the spirit of full disclosure, we do not like to discuss business or behind the scenes stuff in public. It’s almost always bad for everyone in the long run and we strongly feel that you have a better time when you come to the club to have fun and are not exposed to any issues happening behind the scenes. But we also feel this is a special case. You have supported us for so long and made Das Bunker such a part of your life that we owe you a completely transparent explanation. So here we go.
The truth is, there were a lot of factors that went into our decision. The industrial club world is not what it was when we started, when we moved to The Catch One, or even what it was five years ago. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it did cause us to re-evaluate a lot of things – including whether the world (or at least LA) needed a Das Bunker anymore. More on this later. But all this is ancillary, as far and away the biggest factor in our decision was that Jewel’s Catch One is no longer a suitable home for Das Bunker. We have been aware of this for some time now, and did everything we can to change the situation and preserve the club any way we could and for as long as possible. But the one thing we would not- could not allow was you, our patron, our supporter, our friend to be mistreated or taken advantage of. So we are leaving.
Things were never a perfect fit at The Catch, but for a long time we made it work. Most people would even say we did a pretty great job at it, but it was never easy. The club has very little equipment that pretty much every night club in the world has standard (DJ equipment, monitor speakers, fog machine, sound system for one of the rooms –the list is long), so we had to buy our own. The venue has no sound equipment or lights for live shows, so every time we had a band play (upstairs or down) we had to spend thousands renting it (as well as hire people to run it), and these costs had to be passed onto you in the form of higher ticket prices, and quite often bands had to take a lower fee to perform then they would normally get because of this. We were never really OK with that.
And what little equipment that do have is older than most people who attend the club and breaks all the time, and it is often left up to us to repair it. For the small number of you that have been inside the club before we open it’s not an uncommon sight to see DJ Trauma with a headlamp and tool it climbing up a ladder or into some dark corner in an attempt to fix something while you wait in line outside waiting for us to open the doors. Probably the worst part is that even when we did buy some expensive piece of equipment that the venue should have provided, it would quite often get broken or damaged by one of the other events at The Catch – and not only would it not be repaired or replaced, they wouldn’t even tell us about it – we would find out when we came in to get the place ready to host DB. And if you have any idea how hard or expensive it is to replace a fog machine strong enough for the upstairs at 10pm on a Friday night you know how much this sucks.
But looking at the big picture, none of this was that big of a deal. Or at least we chose to tell ourselves that, as we ran DB under these conditions for over a decade. Ever go near the noise room and discover a terrible smell or a scary looking flood coming out of one of the restrooms? Of course you did, it happened almost every Friday for ten plus years. All because the catch would not put proper toilets in down there, telling us it was cheaper to just clean it up every week than get it fixed right. Sadly the fact that it is super gross was never really taken into consideration.
But things really started to go south about three and a half years ago. For some reason, The Catch One’s owner decided to get rid of all the staff that had been with the club since we moved there. The bartender that knew what your drink was before you ordered it because you had been getting it from them for years were all let go. The security guards that knew your name whose first thought was to keep you safe too. And the guy who had kept the building together - fixing everything from the speakers to the electrical to the AC was chased out. And every good manager the place ever had was sent packing. All of the people that understood what Das Bunker was about and loved us and you and wanted to make the club a better place - gone. No notice, no explanation, nothing. It became a not very funny joke among the DJ’s to guess how many new bartenders and security guards would be working every week when we arrived. We would understand if it was one, or two or three people – but it was almost the entire staff.
All of a sudden we had overaggressive security guards throwing people out for no reason. Your favorite bartender was gone, and most destructive, no one there to fix anything anymore. This is when we quietly started discussing our options for if we had to leave The Catch. A month later we were informed that for one week we would only be allowed to use the upstairs area of the club because the owner had rented the downstairs out to a movie shoot and it could not be disturbed till it was complete. And of course she still wanted to charge us full rent and charge you full price. Turns out the shoot could have been scheduled to end in time for us to do the club, but it would have disturbed the venues Sunday morning yoga class. When we protested we were told that if we didn’t like it we could take the week off and she would book another promoter in for that Friday – but warned us that if it went well we could lose the venue for good. We took our chances and had to tell everyone that the building was closed for repairs. This wasn’t the first time we had to lie to cover up for something shitty the venue did – but we really wanted it to be the last. This is when we started looking at other venues to see what our options were.
If anyone remembers our first Star Wars night then you remember how great the outfits were, how it was the biggest crowd we have ever had, and … how long it took to get a drink. There were people complaining that it took over an hour to get a drink and even longer to close their tab. usually when people say stuff like that there is a bit of an exaggeration – but this time it was the truth. This is for two reasons, the first being that The Catch One doesn’t have a lot of very good bartenders who want to work there (because in order to work at DB you also have to work some really awful events) and the much scarier second reason, one of the bartenders was electrocuted during set up that night when she went to plug in a DVD player. Remember six months earlier when the guy who fixed everything was chased away? Turns out the venue needs thousands and thousands of dollars in electrical repair work – and the only person who could temporarily patch it together no longer worked there. So you were waiting hours in lines at the bar while the poor bartender was at the ER getting treated for when her arm caught on fire. Now we really began to worry.
Fast forward another five months. After thirty years of waiting Das Bunker is hosting Suicide Commando, and the club is sold out. We set up early, opened early, and hired tons of extra people for the night to make sure everyone got in fast and things went smooth. We did everything right, but we didn’t about one thing – the ailing electrical system that had now gone over a year without any repairs to it – even though we were told it was “all fixed” after the situation on Star Wars night . Soundcheck had gone OK, but when it was show time and the sound, video, and lights were all finally on at the same time the power failed us. It was so bad that in order for the show to be completed we had to pull the power from all the stage lights and divert that to the sound so the band’s audio wouldn’t reboot its self. The busiest night in our history and it was a disaster because basic repairs had not been made to an unsafe electrical system. And again we had to not exactly tell the whole story to all of you in order to not throw the venue under the buss. Even if that is where they belonged for it.
We now had a huge problem. We could no longer book any bands at this venue that had a heavy tech requirement. But this was also our most popular nights, and we knew reducing our live bookings would change the culture of the club that had existed since our first event 17 years ago. We looked at a lot of options to move Das Bunker to another location but in the end every venue that we looked at had its own set of challenges that would make keeping any place we move as a long term home near impossible. So we did the only thing we could do to keep Bunker going as a 18+, three room, weekly industrial dance party – cut way down on bookings and made almost every week a dance night.
About this same time we also got a new security staff… again. All of a sudden getting in the building was a lot more like TSA at LAX then at any other venue in town. Turns out on our Anniversary with Suicide Commando the janitor found a bunch of small empty bottles of liquor around the club and the owner freaked out. From this point forward everyone entering the club would get a search just short of bring out the rubber gloves in order to keep any and all outside substances from entering the venue. Now we get it, it’s illegal for people to bring that stuff in and the venue loses money if you are not buying drinks, but at the same time it was about to lose even more money if people stopped coming because they were getting violated prior to being allowed in. And that’s exactly what happened.
A few months after this we came in one Friday night and discovered the venue had been (in their words, not ours) “remodeled”. Sadly this didn’t mean fixing the electrical system. Or any of the lights that had been non-functional for months. Or the twenty year-old speakers in any of the rooms that sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Or even the toilets downstairs that always clog and cause a flood. It meant painting the upstairs in a burnt orange southwest motif and replacing the purple neon lights with orange ones. To the clubs credit, they did fix the stair that leads to the stage that had been broken for over two years., but there was still tons of things that made the space truly unsafe (Mold, broken stairs/handrails, etc.) that went ignored. We were not OK with this.
At this point it became clear (or clearer) that the venue no longer valued Das Bunker or our patrons. And it wasn’t just you that the Catch wanted to take advantage of – the long time Saturday night promoter left about a month before we did (while going on a sad but kind of funny Instagram tirade in the process). We understand it’s a business and we occupied only one of seven nights of the week – but to not fix any one of the glaring safety issues about the space but instead paint it in terrible colors is a slap in the face to all of us. And the worst part is we were not allowed to do anything to cover this up. Every proposal we made was shot down – banners, wall coverings, lights, video projections – all rejected. At this point we knew something had to be done – and soon.
About this same time, we were given notice that our rent was going to be increased and that drink prices were going to be raised starting at the beginning of 2014. We now had a deadline to make a decision on the future of Das Bunker, and we went to work on setting up the end of our weekly event.
There were some other factors that played into this as well. When we moved to The Catch there were a small number of clubs in LA and they were all doing pretty much the same thing. We launched as a place to host bands and where we could push new music. There are lots of clubs and events these days (64 industrial/ebm/goth/fetish events in LA in November 2013 alone) and while a lot of them are of very questionable quality a few of them do a pretty good job at playing new music. With that many things to do a massive weekly industrial club doesn’t make as much sense as it used to.
So there it is. Our old venue is falling apart to the point where it was unsafe and the ownership made it clear they don’t care. The sound and lighting system was falling apart to the point where it was making the customer experience much less enjoyable than it had been in the past and again the venue ownership doesn’t care. Our rent was going to go up (again) to the point where we would have had to get rid of the half price admission before 10:30pm, and the drink prices were going up again. The bartenders you knew for years were replaced with people who were relatives of the owner’s friends, not people who can actually make good drinks, and the security has gotten to the point where they inappropriately grab so many people there is talk of lawsuits against them for assault. This is not the kind of experience we want to be associated with, so we made the decision to end the weekly event.
So we looked at the situation we were in and decided to close… the weekly event. We have dropped more than a few hints about our future but here is it spelled out:
We will continue to host smaller band nights at Complex. Since Das Bunker is 1) primarily a dance club and 2) has no live PA in any of its rooms we have traditionally hosted smaller shows at places like the Key Club, the Knitting Factory, and Safari Sam’s. We now have a partner in Complex that is more than equipped with all of the necessary requirements to host live performances, and it will continue to be our go to location for smaller live shows. We currently have announced shows here with God Module, Nachtmahr, De/Vision, and Leæther Strip.
We will continue to host large shows at the many fine theaters in LA. We currently have a show booked at our favorite live music venue, Avalon with Combichrist, Suicide Commando, Aesthetic Perfection, and Youth Code. It’s going to be great.
And… we will continue with Das Bunker – but it will not be exactly the same as it was before. We are taking this opportunity to retool a bit and there will be changes. We don’t want to give away all of the details yet but we are no longer shackled to the concept of our previous incarnation. This means that we will tweak the format of each of our rooms, our DJ line up, and even the night of the week it takes place. We have a new location (more on this very soon) in place that is very excited to become our new long term home and we cannot be more excited about working with them. We will no longer be weekly, or on any regular schedule – Das Bunker will happen when Das Bunker is needed.
Das Bunker no longer will be just a club, every one will now be an EVENT that you do not want to miss. This means top level bands, DJ’s, and theme events. It will be a mix of dancing and quite often a live show of some sort. It will still be 18+, and we will still be open till 3am. We are not ready to announce any more details quite yet – but will be soon. Till then, I can say that the first event of the new Das Bunker will be our annual Star Wars event on May 2nd and the second event will be in the summer with the rescheduled FGFC820 show.
if you want to keep up on what we are doing and be the first to get al the details, we suggest one of three ways:
1) - Sign up for our email list at dasbunker.org (upper right corner)
2) - Sign up for our sms service by texting “DASBUNKER” to 74455.
3) - or if you insist on using facebook, add this Das Bunker profile.
We miss all of you. And we hope to see you again soon. Three months seems like it might as well be a million years away, and we hope to see you out at one of our events or another.
See you soon,
PS: Our friends at New Church are hosting Franck’s Birthday Party on March 1st. You should come hang out.
We have been getting this question a lot lately - and for the next two weekends at least, we have a answer for you!
This Friday, February 14th - Das Bunker will be co-hosting the industrial area at the massive 4th annual Love & Lust Valentine’s Day Ball with our friends from Perversion! If we listed all the different things going on here you would be scrolling forever but there are six areas, about a million DJ’s, dancers, fire performers, aerialists, and so much more. our own Rev.John and Franck H-Bomb will be representing DB and we are very excited to take part in a event of such massive scale. You can keep up on all the info over at the Love and Lust Facebook Event page. At 333 Live.
And Next Friday, February 21st Das Bunker is hosting a show featuring God Module, The Witch Was Right, and Mordacious! We are a little sad as GodMod was originally scheduled to play at one of our Friday dance events but we are also pretty excited that we could add two more great bands to the bill! Tickets are available in all of the usual places and all the up to the minute info is over at the God Module show Facebook event page. At Complex.
It’s only been a week and we already miss all of you. lets hang out soon.
2004 was a big year for Das Bunker. Up into now we were known as that small club in Long Beach that booked the bands most people have never heard of, but now we were taking a huge chance – moving to a venue that held 7x as many people as our previous location, moving to every Friday – in hopes to establish a new home for industrial music in Los Angeles. And a lot of people didn’t think it would work. “The place is too big” they said. “Doing the club every week will diminish the vibe” they said. One frontman for a very forgettable local band even made a slightly racist crack at the neighborhood while insinuating it was a bad decision, asking “Is Bunker moving to Compton?” . But in the end, we all know how it worked out.
Join us as we look back to our first year at the Catch One with DasBunker:2004 – a time when powernosie was all the rage, When Combichrist was a “small noise act” (as another area promoter insulted referred to them as), when no one was quite sure what to think of VNV Nation’s “Chrome”, and when the biggest dance floor hits were from Feindflug. LA’s most successful powernosie act W.A.S.T.E. reunites with their original line up for the first time in years to play downstairs, and we are very excited to have this opportunity to be able to look back to a time that meant so much to all of us.
Das Bunker To Cease Weekly Dance Operations
Eight weeks of special events to be capped by closing night on Friday January 31st.
Das Bunker, Mid-City Los Angeles’s industrial dance club is wrapping up its weekly party at the end of January with a special edition of their long running ‘Dance Night” event featuring all of their current resident DJ’s as a selection of soon to be announced guests. Proceeding this party are a selection of Das Bunker’s more popular special events designed to celebrate the culture of DB - starting with this Friday’s “History of Industrial” event.
More information regarding the reasons behind the decision to shut down operations as well as the future of Das Bunker will be released as the final event draws closer, and DB will continue to produce live concerts both large and small in scale in the future.
“We are committed to Industrial Music” says Das Bunker founder Franck “H-Bomb” Huyghe, with co-promoter John “Rev.John” Giovanazzi stating “This is just the next step in our evolutionary process. Now that we no longer have the burden of producing a weekly event, in a set location, on a set night, 52 times a year we can turn our attention to setting in motion the next Episode of the Das Bunker saga. And while we are sad to see such an important part of our history, part of LA’s underground music scene, come to a close, we are also very excited about what we have planned next. “
Das Bunker Event Calendar:
Friday December 13 - History of Industrial Night
Friday December 20 - Dance Night
Friday December 27 - Guest DJ’s Daniel Graves & Black Eyed
Friday January 3 - Free Pass Night
Friday January 10 - Winter White Party
Friday January 17 – Dance Night
Friday January 24 – Shiv-R (live performance)
Friday January 31 – The Last Das Bunker
Friday Feburary 21 – God Module/ The Witch Was Right / Mordacious @ Complex
Sunday April 27 – Combichrist / Suicide Commando / Aesthetic Perfection / Youth Code @ Avalon
Friday night, you reminded all of us why we have spent the last seventeen years crafting Das Bunker into what it is today. Not that we ever really forgot – as the one thing that has not changed is our passion for Industrial music – but seeing so many old faces and so many new faces at the same time in the same place proves that what we have here in Los Angeles could not happen any other place in the world.
So thank you to every one of you that came out to our event. Thank you to Grendel for making their first west coast performance in almost a decade so amazing. Thank you to High-Functioning Flesh for bringing their classic sound and intense stage performance to our downstairs stage. thank you to Jasyn for debuting new God Module tracks on our dance floor. Thank you to all of our friends in other bands for coming out to support – Hex Rx, Youth Code, Tense/Vows, The Present Moment, Nova Mura, Stallengrad, 3Teeth, Bestial Mouths, Gentleman Junkie, Aesthetic Perfection, Carved Souls, Pure Ground (please forgive any we have missed, it was a long night). Our peer’s in the world of promotion – IHC, The Overthrow, ECE, supporters from our local record shops – Vacation Vinyl & Mount Analog – the list keeps going and going. And I know we missed a ton of you. Thank all of you.
And with our deep gratitude we make one single request – keep supporting industrial music. We are very proud of our 10+ years at The Catch One as a weekly dance club, for our shows at other venues around town, and nothing helps tis keep going as much as your support. So tell your friends about us (digitally and in person). Wear your DB shirt out with pride and encourage people who ask about it to come visit. Without the support from our community we have nothing and this past Friday we could not have been more proud.
See you Friday.
#1 on the Das Bunker Top 10 tracks of the last 10 years - No track has had as much a effect on the history of Das Bunker as Combichrist’s “This Shit Will Fuck You Up”. We hosted our first Combi gig about a year before this album was released, back when Andy was much more well known as the frontman for Icon of Coil - in fact, the only reason we were able to secure a CC gig in the first place was when another LA promoter insultingly dismissed them with the backhanded comment of not having any time for their “little noise band”. And while the first record was pretty heavy on the distorted beats, no one was prepared for the phenomenon that started one day when one of our DJ’s received a promo CD-R in the mail with some new tracks to test out.
For a solid six months before it was released - Das Bunker was the only club in the world where you could hear this track, and by the time it came out it was the biggest hit we have ever had. industrial dance music had a new anthem, hard and aggressive - this was the perfect song at the perfect time.
#2 on the Das Bunker Top 10 tracks of the last 10 years - this track represents a memorable time in our history for a lot of reasons. In hindsight, the release of Chrome represented the end of the original Futurepop era, and VNV Nation fans at the time were a bit torn over this track, and even quite a few people said it marked the end of the band. boy were they wrong. The clean and modern production - finally free of the heavy influences of the epic trance era was just what a new generation of fans were looking for, and this quickly became the dance floor anthem of every ebm/industrial club on the planet. It was in this same era where Das Bunker hosted our second VNV Nation concert - New years Eve at the Avalon.
We would be lying if we said anything other than this was the show that put us on the map for thousands of new fans and is still looked back on as possibly our best event in our history, and set the stage for VNV to return to perform their now legendary two set appearance at DB10.
#3 on the Das Bunker Top 10 tracks of the last 10 years - Another track that stormed the dancefloor form the moment it came out, Grendel’s Soilbleed took the sampling of Full Metal Jacket to the next level with a track that every cyber kid or jarhead form down south would
request demand we play every week for eternity. And while we actually prefer Grendel’s more modern clean vocal style, we doubt any new track will ever take the scene by storm quite like this one did. Grendel performs live this Friday at the Das Bunker 17th Anniversary Celebration.
#4 on the Das Bunker Top 10 tracks of the last 10 years - The exact moment “Undone” became a hit was actually 6 days before the first time we ever played it. It was on our 10th anniversary weekend at Rotersand’s only ever LA performance and near the end of their performance they drop this amazing track and the room goes insane. As you can see from the live version posted here, its a live favorite - presented here with the now classic tribute to Ruffneck near the end, and it was at that point DB DJ’s Rev.John and Trauma turn to each other and both say ‘We need to start playing this right away”. And they did. And soon it was the biggest song of the night. At least till our #1 song came along…
#5 on the Das Bunker Top 10 tracks of the last 10 years - Suicide Commando has a long history with Das Bunker - from their early classics making our opening nights playlist to their appearance at DB16 and the msot talked about event in our existence - and everything between. You can almost chart our evolution along with the bands, and from the BTK record release party we threw (complete with DVD showing of a SC live show) the title track to that album has been ruling our dance floor. To this day when people hear the slow build of distortion they rush to the dance floor knowing that the kick drum will soon come and release all the tension in the room and cause a sea of fists to start flying with the beat.