“Where the hell is this place?”
I first wondered as I was driving ever so slowly on a rainy day in Southern California. I have The Devil Wears Prada blasting on my raspy speakers and Google Maps telling me where to direct my 03’ Ford Ranger to find this venue. With condensation on my windshield and my eyes on a swivel, The Grizzly Den is awaiting my arrival.
The Grizzly Den and Grizzly Productions was founded by Zack Perez, Dan and Donald Dominguez, and a ragtag team of dedicated individuals with one common goal.
“Bringing back quality music to the I.E. that brings everyone from all walks of life together in harmony, peace, and brutal two-steps.”
Well, maybe I can’t quote them on the brutal two-step thing, but that is what I observed as a patron of the arts. Dan, Zack, and crew all knew what was in store for their inaugural show in Upland. Small breezes that carried precipitation did not stop them, nor the bands listed to play.
Inside an enclosure of small businesses with a central, open parking lot, lays the foundation of an Imagine That! venue. On the left, there is a room that is attached the main lobby, and this room had a sign that read. “THE GRIZZLY DEN”. Not all too subtle. But it is pretty hidden if one were to scan it once over. Isn’t that the beauty of it though? But I digress.
Two burly, but ever so nice, security guards pat down the public with smiles and a positive nomenclature, something that was mirrored by the very ones that own and run the joint.
You walk in, with stage in sight, being greeted and checked in by women that slap you with a wrist band and/or stamp to allow in and out access to the smoking area located out front. A semi-full bar to the right, and the control board to the left, carpeted floors with a “dance” pit, laced with wood in front of the stage.
Merch in the back, near the door, and a backstage area that leads to a back parking lot for the bands behind the set. Pictures and portraits of old movies and plays are riddled along the walls like artistic measles surrounding the audience with beauty and comfort.
Not the biggest place where one can see music, but the sound is immaculate. Especially after the first week with new equipment and powerful amps. No signs of resonance and hisses and to quote an audience member, “This place sounds a hell of a lot better than Chain Reaction!”
Of the two scheduled shows I have been to, I have noticed the variety of bands and fan culture, not to mention family members of the bands that played.
From an 8th grader, the size smaller than Squints Palledorous, belting his massive vocal chords in Shot in the Dark and headliner crowd pleaser The Animal in Me, to the ever so brutal Goliath and Aethere, fans were well received with the intimate setting that brought music much closer to our thirsty souls. Some bands asked the fans for an up close and personal encounter during their set, and some demanded they open up the pit.
The first show The Grizzly Den had was the first show of the “Smokin’ Aces” Tour which included: The Sky We Share, One Day After, Falsehood, Shot in the Dark, Asmara, Carmel and Carmela, Consider Me Dead, and The Animal in Me.
The next week, the venue hosted the “Out of Nowhere Wintour” with bands including: Eastern Poles, Anatomy Decay, Ocean Blind, I Ate Everybody, Throne of Tyranny, Lesson in Murder, The City Moves, Aethere, and headliner Goliath.
Now all these bands mentioned totally fit the environment TGD and Grizzly Productions wants to promote, but according to Dan,
“Music’s music, and we accept all forms,” said Dominguez. “We’re not here to make a quick buck and only feature bands we like. Any and all forms of original, passion filled music is welcome to play at The Grizzly Den.”
All in all, I was satisfied with what I saw and with what I heard. The owners and those that worked to make this happened treated all forms of life with respect. During a Throne of Tyranny breakdown, a girl weighing no more than 110 lbs was knocked out by a flying fist. Not only were the surrounding fans there to offer a helping hand, but Dan and Zach were there to help lift her and take her outside for assistance. They took care of her and made sure she was ok. The little things boys and girls. The little things. The entire staff of TGD made this experience a great one, and the were all involved in the brutal pits that opened up. Pretty fucking badass if you ask me.
SUPPORT LOCAL MUSIC, DAMN IT!
Feb 14 @ 5:30 pm
I Choose You Fest!
Focus in Frame, Talk to the Stranger
Feb 21 @ 6:30 pm
Grizzly Productions and Gretsch Guitars Present:
The Rocketz, The Slanderin, & More
This entire post, writing and photos, are all courtesy of Greg Telles
The Grizzly Den (Grizzly Productions):
1318 W. 9th Street
Upland, CA 91786
Have you attended/will you be attending this venue? Who would you like to play?
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