Photo Essay: Save the Smell Fest

photos & words: Le'Donne Morris

Earlier this Summer the all-ages diy venue The Smell in downtown Los Angeles received a demolition notice from property owners L&R Group. Although the venue’s closure has been rumored for years, it's been stated that the notice was only a formality and that there are no current plans for the building's demolition. Instead of waiting, the Smell's owner Jim Smith and a group of volunteers set plans to help raise money in order to purchase a new space to call their own. Their initial GoFundMe fundraiser has raised over $24,000 of their 1.4 million dollar goal and a petition to help prevent the building's demolition has received over 9,000 signatures.

In late June it was announced that a benefit festival would be held with the purpose of generating more funds towards the venue's relocation. The event featured nearly 40 bands spanning The Smell's 19 years as downtown's mainstay of the underground music scene. The festival's headliners were kept secret until weeks prior to the event, it was even rumored that Ty Segall, Health, or a highly unlikely Mika Miko reunion would take place. Eventually it was announced that venue regulars No Age, Surf Curse, and Kim and the Created would be headlining. The night before it was revealed that the secret headliner would be Cherry Glazerr while the event's location was announced the morning of.

The festival took place at Mojo Studio Space in Downtown Los Angeles from 12pm to 2am. Keeping with the venue's all-ages tradition the festival had a strict no drugs or alcohol policy. The event's first few hours were mellow as the space slowly filled in until later that evening. Kim and the Created and Surf Curse played notable sets where the event space was filled to near capacity encouraging fans to rush their makeshift stages eventually causing a few minor technical difficulties. The night started to wind down during No Age and Cherry Glazerr's performances as crowds started to thin out. Nearly every band performing at the festival took time to reflect on the smell's importance in the Los Angeles music scene and thanked everyone for their support.

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