At the edge of L.A.’s Koreatown lies a stunning example of Art Deco architecture—and an incredible spot to see a show. The Wiltern, which earns its name from the location at the intersection of Wilshire and South Western, started stunning audiences nearly 90 years ago. In fact, on the California Now Podcast, Rolling Stone contributor Frank Schruers listed The Wiltern as one of the top five music venues in Los Angeles.
At The Wiltern, the show starts before the band begins to play. The beautiful aquamarine exterior, plated in glazed terra-cotta tile, is an architectural masterpiece. Once inside, guests can enjoy the refurbished work of the late designer Anthony B. Heinsbergen. Murals line the walls, leading up to a zig-zag style molding, inspired by the sun. “It reminds me of the old days, being on the road for Rolling Stone and going to some classic Deco theater,” says Schruers.
The Wiltern has experienced several transformations since it first opened in 1931. Originally created as a vaudeville theater, its opening night was full of Hollywood glamour: Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, and James Cagney all entered the venue through a bridge constructed for the special event. In the 1970s, the theater fell into disarray but was saved from the wrecking ball by local activists and restored to its former glory.
Schruers explains that the 1,850-capacity venue still feels stuck in the past, in the very best of ways. “The Wiltern is the place to get the essential, rock ’n’ roll hippie vibe,” he says. Be prepared to see some buckskin and paisley; or join in the fun by dusting off your old leather vest. “Acoustically, it’s pretty flawless, a nice old grand theater,” Schruers says.