The House of Blues Sunset Strip is a nice concert venue that wants you to think it’s not. It’s a one of the few well-maintained venues (hell, buildings) on Sunset, yet they find a way to make their shows feel like they’re happening in an underground rock club. But how does the House of Blues stack up against other venues? Let’s find out.
The size and lay out of the HOB puts the concert-goer in an odd position. The floor is small and packed with people — which is good if you want to feel like you’re at a real rock show but bad if you’d like to just kick back and have a ($12) beer. Even when standing in the areas surrounding the floor, I never feel like I’m not mashed right up against somebody else.
The sound guys know what they are doing. The levels are always good and the PA system is top-notch. If only they could lower the sound of the drunk guy next to you hitting on a variety of uninterested women…
This place is clean but looks dirty, so you don’t feel like too much of a sell-out seeing a show here. I’d liken it to seeing a concert on Tom Sawyer’s Island at Disneyland. It’s got lots of fake rotting wood everywhere, but you know a diligent and underpaid cleaning crew scrubs it down every night.
If you’re a fan of good punk rock or low-level radio rock music, the House of Blues is perfect. It’s because the HOB is a happy middle ground where an established punk or ska band can pack it no problem, and bands that are just getting popular on the radio can get their feet wet. If you’re looking for bigger touring acts or coffee-shop intimacy, however, this isn’t for you.
Overall grade: B+
The House of Blues isn’t the most comfortable place to see a show, but it does make for an exciting underground feel (even if its manufactured… which it is).