A Guide to Residential Music in Isla Vista
One of the most unique and underrated aspects of night life at UCSB is the thriving local music scene. Several musical acts like Jack Johnson and Rebelution got their starts as student musicians performing for small crowds in Isla Vista backyards. Local bands can still be found in I.V. playing at parties with small crowds and intimate atmosphere. The music at these shows is usually rock or alternative, featuring live instruments and singing.
These shows are not always widely promoted on social media; students typically find out about these shows via private Facebook events, word-of-mouth, or simply walking around I.V. Make sure to keep an ear out and attend one of these shows if you get the chance. Local band performances are a special part of the UCSB student experience, and music lovers may never get the chance after graduating to support local bands right in their own neighborhood.
Live performance allows local businesses interact with the community. Whether talent comes locally or out of town, these venues provide a lot of traffic and exposure. Musicians aren't often compensated for performing, but aren't required to bring their own fans or sell tickets.
6583 Pardall Rd, Goleta, CA 93117
Rincon brewery (formly Giovanni's Pizza) is located at the cusp of the Isla Vista restaurant and business center. The pizzeria offers a large patio and spacious indoor area. Shows tend to happen outdoors on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday nights.
When booking their own performances the venue tends to favor more established acts that can bring in a following. The genre’s booked tend to side toward more light hearted pop or rock music, where cover songs and DJ sets happen frequently.
During 2017 UCSB’s radio department, KCSB, booked their quarterly open mikes at Rincon Brewery. KCSB open mics encouraged some more experimental music and stand up, and has been the acception to Rincon’s more conservative style booking.
6560 Pardall Rd, Goleta, CA 93117
A block away from Rincon Brewery is The Coffee Collab. The small coffee shop pushes an alternative and hip astenthic; making available large theater style seating, communal instruments, board games, and art supplies.
The coffee shop’s less strict in its music preferences and hosts weekly open mikes.To get on the bill, lists are made first come first serve. Near the middle of the business center, the coffee shop provides a place for people to come across acoustic performances, live bands, and stand up. Their regimented open mic days tend to vary by year, but in 2017-2018 took place at 6:30 on Wednesdays.
Regardless if it’s an open mic or not, during less crowded evenings music often goes on outside. People play acoustic instruments quietly outsides, and occasionally full bands perform as well. There isn’t a set way of contacting The Coffee Collab to book shows, but the staff tends to be easy to approach about events and live music.
Isla Vista House Venues
The lack of consistent venues spots makes temporary house venues the main source of out of town and local music. These venues are often run by a handful of residents, with access to different properties changing yearly. Regardless of the fluid location of venue, enthusiasm and support for live music has remained unchanged.
The following are some of the most consistent venues for 2017- 2018 year. These type of house shows tend to bring large crowds, dancing, and appreciation of diverse music. These crowds are consequently hard to monetize on or promote music to for outside musicians. Getting shows at these venues requires a relationship or connection with residents or local promoters.
850 Camino Lindo (The Half Pipe House)
850 Camino Lindo, Isla Vista
The house at 850 Camino Lindo remains one of the most surreal locations for live music in Isla VIsta. The large property at the outskirts of Isla Vista makes it feel removed from the rest of the IV community.
The property around the front of the house has a large half pipe, garage, front yard, and driveway where live music and skating go on simultaneously. Again without a designated person booking shows, the main contacts are just a handful of residents trying to keep live music in IV going.
The location is revered among local musicians because it brings large crowds of skaters and partiers without the need for much promotion. There have been issues with older neighbors calling police for noise complaints, but the house tends to adjust, turning down music or putting parties than inside.
Santa Barbara Arts Collective
Isla Vista, location unspecified
The Santa Barbara Arts collective has hosted limited yet high production events in the 2017. Though there isn’t confirmation if the venue space or collective will continue after 2017, the effort and legitimacy of events has been remarkable for house performance standards.
Members at the property located on 67 block of Sueno constructed a stage with large PA, monitors, a light bar, sound board, and fog machine. The spacious backyard can host a couple hundred people. In the center a large slanted tree is used to hang makeshift chandeliers of christmas lights strung around bike tires.
The project is put together involved in the UCSB jazz program and tends to book jazz and experimental acts. The venue has a past of hosting one our more shows a quarter, events have been both free and ticketed.
In the winter of 2017 after the devastating fires in Sonoma area, the group put together ticketed event and ended up raising $2,400 for in support of wildfire victims. Later in the year, the collective brough Los Angeles based musician and producer KIEFER who played a free set.
Western Area of UCSB’s Main campus
The parking structure on the West end of campus Lot 22 has been repurposed at less traffic hours as a music venue and rehearsal space. Whether or not it’s a legitimate space to play, or campus security hasn’t bothered interrupting people, remains to be seen.Often times music can be heard echoing from inside the parking structure in the evening in areas around campus.
As local musician Matt Swiacki, identified in a google maps comment, the parking structure is “a good place for a group to rehearse for a concert/show/event type deal. The Mallards practically lived up there when they were forming.”
With space scarce in Isla Vista, the spacious well lit area provides much needed room for loud rehearsal and informal performances. There’s no regimented booking manager, but the campus does fall under campus property, so performers are at the mercy of CSO or police who could give possible tickets.
As important as it is to know what’s going on known, the past provides a key guide to where we’ve been. The following represent some of the more established and talked about venues in from a prior time.
The Pink Mailbox (discontinued)
6668 Pasado, Isla Vista
An example of the ever changing state of Isla Vista DIY music community was the venue, The PInk Mailbox. At one point an artistic collective lived and booked established artists to play low cost shows at the address of 6668 Passado, transforming the small house into a full functioning venue.
History is scarce on the pink mailbox, but first hand accounts are sprinkled in various locations. Though the date of its conception isn’t well documented, one of the few articles written implicates origins possibly earlier in the late 90’s early 2000’s.
The most recent video from the pink mailbox takes place in 2011, by the group Magnum Force. The venue was rumored as hosting established acts such as the the microphones, local artists Watercolor Paintings, and utilized by to be DJ steve Aoki for local booking.