The Someone-Kill-Me-Please Guide to local venues

[Easy to read stats on local clubs]

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister leads his legendary band Motorhead through a never-to-be-forgotten set of ear-searing, bone-crunching metal at the Brick Works.

Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister leads his legendary band Motorhead through a never-to-be-forgotten set of ear-searing, bone-crunching metal at the Brick Works.

Photo By Tom Angel

I’d like to establish what I hope will be a good first impression by giving you the straight scoop. Every week, I write a left-field humor/rant/opinion column on the back page of the Chico News & Review, but a few times a year I get the privilege of contributing formulaic stories to what we industry folk call “special issues.” And boy, are they special! (In a knockoff, Jerry Lewis-telethon kind of way.)

I am usually asked to provide the lowdown on the diverse music venues here in town—places where I have attended many memorable and not-so-memorable concerts over the years.

I’ve completed this task (with godlike accuracy, I might add) for several years in a row now, and the venues never change much. So you understand it is difficult to present the information in different ways, dear reader. But, in keeping with our statistical theme this year, I’ve included easy-to-read stats. And I should know, because I’ve been to all of these clubs many times. Need proof?

Dorks such as myself collect various ticket stubs from different events—from rock concerts to bull riding, beer festivals to museum trips. I do so with the dream that some day I can arrange them together into a colorful, framed mosaic above my own home pool table (home and pool table are part of the dream, too) and they’ll provide conversation pieces when I’m too old and deaf to venture outdoors.

Unfortunately, as I recently discovered, some of my favorite old stubs (Tom Waits, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Motorhead) are disappearing as the ink fades and I’m left with a Ziploc bag full of blank stubs. This thanks to the cheapness of Ticketmaster and other corporate a-holes who use cheap materials. We pay outrageous amounts for those tickets as it is; you’d think they would at least last a while. Damn it all!

But I digress. Without further adieu, welcome to the 2003 edition of Rev. Gus Wagster’s Someone-Kill-Me-Please Guide to local performance venues, both big and small (sorry to those left out, but priority went to regular bookers/crowd sizes).

The Brick Works

(191 East Second St.)
Capacity: 750
Been around since: 1993
Sound quality: Very good/nice mixing board
Sample acts: Floater, Burning Spear, Rev. Horton Heat, Digital Underground
You’ll usually find: Kids downstairs for all-ages shows/college types
Drinks/Smoking: liquor/beer upstairs, smoking patio


(228 Broadway)
Capacity: 550
Been around since: 1975
Sound quality: Very good
Sample acts: Cover bands, Tainted Love, dance parties, local
You’ll usually find: College-aged partiers, go-go cages
Drinks/Smoking: Long bar, outdoor bar, nice tree-lined outdoor patio (with misters in the summer and heaters in the winter)

Riff Raff Rock Bar

(126 W. Second St.)
Capacity: under 100
Been around since: 2002 (Numerous incarnations, owners since the ‘60s)
Sound quality: OK. Narrow room (loud).
Sample acts: Small touring punk bands, Pawns, Indecisive Youth
You’ll usually find: Tattooed punk rockers, leather, hair gel
Drinks/Smoking: Full bar; smokes outside

Sierra Nevada Brewery Big Room

(1075 E. 20th St.)
Capacity: 360
Been around since: 2001
Sound quality: Excellent
Sample acts: Charlie Musselwhite, Southern Culture on the Skids, Gillian Welch
You’ll usually find: Well groomed adults, white blues enthusiasts, beer & food
Drinks/Smoking: Chico’s most famous beer; smoking outside

The Paradise Performing Arts Center provided a near-perfect acoustic setting for a concert by master guitarist Leo Kottke.

Photo By Tom Angel

Laxson Auditorium

(Chico State)
Capacity: 1280
Been around since: 1931
Sound quality: Excellent
Sample acts: Joshua Redman, David Sedaris, Peking Acrobats
You’ll usually find: ushers, cross-section of the community, former Nobel Prize winners
Drinks/Smoking: Neither (Tres Hombres almost across the street)

Stormy’s Off Broadway

(132 West Second St.)
Capacity: 49
Been around since: 1996
Sound quality: Good, intimate
Sample acts: Jimmy Fay, Jack Shat, local jams
You’ll usually find: Hippies/ folkies, facial hair, Jerry Garcia photos
Drinks/Smoking: Full bar; smoke outside

Chico Women’s Clubhouse

(592 East Third)
Capacity: 220
Been around since: 1933 (Chico Art Club)
Sound quality: Good, homey setting
Sample acts: Janis Ian, Cheryl Wheeler, Joe Craven
You’ll usually find: Aging folkies/hippies, Garfunkel new-age parents, singer-songwriters
Drinks/Smoking: Neither

Mr. Lucky

(319 Main St.)
Capacity: 290
Been around since: 2000 (various incarnations for years)
Sound quality: Loud, warehouse vibe
Sample acts: Dance parties, punk and rockabilly, indie
You’ll usually find: Punks/jailbirds/'80s dancers/visible thongs
Drinks/Smoking: Full bar; smokes outside

Crazy Horse Saloon

(303 Main St.)
Capacity: 375
Been around since: 1995
Sound quality: Good, small stage, big dance floor
Acts that perform there: Charlie Daniels Band, Wade Hayes, Chad Brock
You’ll usually find: Cowboys, big-haired women, a mechanical bull
Drinks/Smoking: long bar, shot chair, outside balcony for smokers

Paradise Performing

Arts Center (777 Nunneley Road, Paradise)
Capacity: 762
Been around since: 1999
Sound quality: Excellent acoustics
Acts that perform there: Dwight Yoakam, Ani DiFranco, classical music
You’ll usually find: All kinds, elderly, folkies, local art
Drinks/Smoking: sometimes catered/bar


(128 Broadway)
Capacity: 110
Been around since: 1999
Sound quality: Good, intimate coffee house setting
Acts that perform there: Jazz Lab, folk and Ronn Spears within Tradition (bluegrass)
You’ll usually find: art displays on the walls, hipsters, bookworms, coffee, vegetarians
Drinks/Smoking: Pretty good beer and wine selection, smoking on back patio

Trading card - Linda Butorac, Whitney Dining card swiper