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The UC Theatre Reopens its doors as live music venue in Downtown Berkeley

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Depending on who you’re talking to, independent music venues can be seen as a hostile environment where carefree attitudes can often overstep boundaries and find themselves in dangerous situations, or they can be seen as incubators for artists. And not just musicians, but also for visual artists that often take the selfless role of adorning venue walls with their art. We know that independent venues are needed. While I truly believe they are part of the fabric of the industry and sometimes the neighborhood in which they stoically occupy, musicians need to constantly tour and push tickets in order to make money. We know you’re not purchasing music as much as you should, that activity has pretty much fallen by the wayside with being able to freely stream through Pandora and Spotify. But, you’re still coming out to live shows. And that’s a good thing because The UC Theatre’s calendar lineup is looking mighty fine: They Might be Giants, The Psychedelic Furs, M. Ward. Independent venues contribute to an aesthetically pleasing vision of the city! The holy trinity: good restaurants, art galleries and music venues will bring in young people and young people bring money. The last time I checked, there weren’t two blue-haired ladies shutting down the joint. No, not even in San Francisco.

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With so many small and independent businesses having shaky futures because of constant scrutiny under city expectations (newcomers moving near venues and complaining about the noise), ever changing licensing laws and exorbitant rent increases, it’s hard to image that anyone would want to start a business, let alone an independent music venue. But, within the last few years we’ve seen a few music venues open their doors, Social Hall in San Francisco and The UC Theatre in Berkeley.

The UC Theatre is technically not new. Originally opening its doors in 1917 in Downtown Berkeley and serving as a movie theatre, it reopened at the beginning of 2016. It sat vacant and unloved for 15-years. It wasn’t until Bill Graham alum, David Mayeri came along and envisioned what he knew best; a music venue. And not just any music venue, but this baby is packed to the gills with everything you could possibly want on your checklist: 1,400 capacity, general admission, multi-tiered, all ages, full service bar and kitchen. Not only that, but their annual concert lineup was gifted with a state-of-the-art Meyer Leopard sound system meant to clearly sustain an acoustic and electric rock show. What the hell else do you want?! It’s the unicorn of music venues.

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The UC Theatre’s website also claims that they are the only general admission music venue of its size in the East Bay. And with them being a non-profit, they’ve really committed themselves to having a reciprocal relationship with the community; being actively involved with the community and getting the community actively involved with them. Two living and breathing organisms. Looking through The UC Theatre’s social media accounts you can completely feel the love that’s exchanged between the venue and the community. The photographer is not just focusing on the architectural beauty – although it’s gorgeous having just had $6M invested into its revamp – and the bands, they’re candidly capturing the energy of the community at the events. The whole damn thing is one of those soulmate type relationships we all think of as urban myths; it’s utterly Berkeley.

Joe Jackson
Wednesday, June 22
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Hieroglyphics
Saturday, June 25
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

M. Ward
Nice As Fuck (NAF) ft. Jenny Lewis, Erika Spring, Tennessee Thomas
Friday, July 8
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Pete Escovedo ft. Juan and Peter Michael Escovedo
Saturday, July 16
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

An Evening with They Might Be Giants
Friday, July 22
Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 9:00 pm

The Psychedelic Furs with The Church
Saturday, July 23
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Ani DiFranco
Friday, October 7
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Lukas Graham
Sunday, November 13
Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

All photos taken from The UC Theatre Facebook page.
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