LA Flashback: Live at Jabberjaw
Mike Desert, guitarist and vocalist from San Francisco-based punk band Jack Saints, has the coolest YouTube channel I've seen yet. Since the band originally formed in Palm Springs in the mid-1990s, the members bore witness to tons of cool Southern California shows at venues that no longer exist. Desert's YouTube uploads are reflective of this, brimming with footage of bands like Kyuss, Sebadoh and The Gits. A handful of those of the Southern California clips hail from Jabberjaw Coffeehouse.
Before chains like Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf took over Los Angeles, there were throngs independent coffeehouses in LA. If you were underage, this was a godsend, as it meant that you could check out bands or take in poetry readings without having to shell out for a fake ID. While virtually every part of LA had its own preferred coffeehouse, few could hold a candle to Jabberjaw.
Located on Pico and Crenshaw, Jabberjaw had an edge in that it booked touring acts, and really good ones at that. Just about every major indie rock band of the decade (including Nirvana) played the venue at least once. The locals who played there, an eclectic group that included noise rock, lo-fi and Riot Grrrl bands, became their own scene, defined more by the venue than a common sound. When the venue closed in 1997, it was, essentially the end of an era. Shortly thereafter, The Smell opened in North Hollywood (later moving downtown) and with it came a brand new group of musicians, new sounds and new styles. We've posted a few of Mike Desert's Jabberjaw clips on the following page.