The House of Blues San Diego has been started and stopped, green-lighted and delayed so many times that you had to wonder if the venue wasn't being run by the city, which has a long history of prolonging two-year projects over decades (Highway 56 ring a bell?).
The reaction to the club is, of course, mixed. Many predict that it'll be a case where a heavily funded chain will put locally owned clubs out of business. Others bemoan its presence-along with the upcoming Hard Rock Hotel location-as the fetid arrival of “corporate rock” in a city that's been, until now, proudly provincial.
You'll notice that our cover illustration of this issue reflects those fears-that the House will crush some beloved players in our little Munchkinland. But the Oz parody also suggests the mythology behind those fears. In all of our research-which included contacting venues in other cities where House of Blues have opened-we found that HOBs in other cities didn't crush the competition. In fact, we found more evidence to the contrary: competing venues actually flourished.
One of CityBeat's notoriously anti-corporate writers went into his assignment with a chip on his shoulder, despite our pleadings for fairness. After digging for dirt to justify his distaste, he wrote me to say, “Damn-it's actually a pretty cool company.”
We'll have to wait and see if HOB's presence here is positive or negative. The way we, capitalists, see it, all competition is good. Most other local venue owners don't seem too concerned. Others say it'll be a boon for local artists, as clubs like 'Canes will shift their focus to booking more homegrown talent.
But regardless of the impact, a venue like HOB opening in San Diego definitely takes the music scene to a whole new level. It ups the cultural ante a bit, and makes the little-city-that-could a bigger-city-that-is.