For a city like Detroit, they have seen every side of the music industry. From their storied history that has produced some of the most recognizable music ever recorded to its inevitable and unfortunate downfall. The city has been called home by countless hip-hop legends and to this day has created a sound of its own, another testament to the endless flow of creativity in Detroit. Today, the music scene continues to shine and the locally-owned El Club is giving these artists a home. Since they opened, El Club has seen local acts turn into legends and national touring acts performed all under one roof. Their love for the city and the music that defines it has made the club a must-stop for locals, tourists, and any artists visiting Detroit.
Glide spoke with the El Club team about what’s next for the venue, their dream acts, and much more. Check out upcoming shows and grab tickets at El Club’s website below.
El Club opened in 2016, what have been some of the biggest triumphs for the venue since you opened?
We are proud to have consistently provided an incredible safe space for artists and attendees alike. As far as our biggest triumphs… the Trip Metal Festival, a free avant-garde event is a big one, and watching our general manager begin her legendary party, Twerk and Tequila, are two of our personal highlights. We’re also proud to have booked artists like Billie Eilish, Doja Cat, Lizzo and so many others who have gone on from playing in our intimate club to full-on arena status.
No venue owners were prepared for the pandemic- how did you navigate it to be able to survive today?
Through a lot of teamwork and communication, we were able to navigate through the extremely complicated times and I should add that we couldn’t have survived without the support of our community.
Have there been any local artists that have championed El Club since it opened and what artist has played the stage the most?
Lizzo, funny enough, has played 3 times since we opened. Also, ZeLooperz of Bruiser Brigade has been a champion of the space. It’s been awesome to watch him flourish because he’s a very talented young artist. Plenty of DJs like Killa $quid have also played the room multiple times and she credits us for opening a door for her to flourish even beyond our room.
Did being in Mexicantown have something to do with your choice of name El Club? Can you give people not familiar with Detroit what the Mexicantown vibe is like and how El Club fits in?
No, the name was actually passed down to us by the previous owner, Delores Sanchez.
You guys have one of the cleanest and sharpest-looking logos. Who designed the logo and how did you decide to go with that one?
Colin Fletcher designed the logo. The direction we gave him was “sexy Pink Flamingo” and that’s what we ended up with.
Any local legends you guys put up early that you have seen gone on to become national touring acts in their own right?
I see on your Facebook that you guys regularly host events with free food for the citizens of Detroit, how did these events come to be and why does El Club feel it’s important for venues like itself to give back to the city that hosts it?
It happened organically through our talent buyer Drew and we think it’s important to open our space for such events as community should always come first.
The list of artists who have played El Club is impressive. How did your venue become a must-stop to so many national touring acts and what separates you guys from the other venues in Detroit in terms of being able to attract such bands?
I think we took a lot of risks and really insisted that agents didn’t pass up Detroit while routing their tours… And we can’t forget the fact that our venue is always very clean and welcoming for everyone involved: staff, performers, and attendees. The green room is a very comfortable space for artists to relax before performing and that’s really important to us.
Alongside Philly, NOLA, Memphis and Nashville. Detroit has one of the greatest musical heritage of any U.S. city. Does Detroit’s musical history play any part into the design or aesthetics or mission of the venue?
Yes, I think we have tried to book local legends like Negative Approach who arguably were some of the earliest founders of hardcore punk as well as local techno DJs like DJ Stingray.
With your wide range of alumni, is there a dream act you hope graces El Club’s stage one day?
Additionally, if you had to pick on artists from the long list of classic acts that call Detroit home to play El Club, dead or alive, who would it be?
Very prominently displayed on your website is the phrase “All ages, all the time”, why is it important for El Club to stay all ages for as many shows as possible, and was this one of the initial goals of the venue?
Yes, it’s important for us to remain all-inclusive to not be driven by alcohol sales and that we don’t put a limit to the concert going experience. The younger you’re exposed to music and art the better.
Looking through your Google Reviews, everyone has high praise for the sound system at El Club. What sort of system are you working with and what was the process like for landing on a seemingly perfect fit for your venue?
I’m a big fan of Bowery Ballroom (New York) and Teragram Ballroom (Los Angeles) and we modeled our venue’s sound system after theirs. DMB speakers are responsible for the huge sound.
With the new year just kicking off, what does El Club have in store for 2023? Any exciting plans your loyal customers have to look forward to?
Hopefully we will be getting our kitchen ready as well as the list of shows in the pipeline such as Weyes Blood and many others soon to be announced.