‘Pomona A to Z’: G is for Glass House

[Every now and then it’s fun to do a column to appeal to the younger crowd and publicly renew my I’m-not-dead-yet credentials. It’s also fun to try to explain the topic to the generally older crowd reading me.

Since this column, Erik Palma replaced Eric Milhouse as manager, the White Stripes returned, a Glass House Record Store opened next door and a Glass House bar, which has been under construction for two years, seems to be taking shape. Oh, and the Goddess Pomona was dropped from the county seal.

This column was originally published Aug. 29, 2004.]

G for Glass House: top concerts a stone’s-throw away

Greetings! It’s a gala day here as “Pomona A to Z” gets the letter G in its greedy grasp. Which G meets my goal of showing Pomona’s greatness?

Glom these gems:

* Goddess Pomona, the Roman deity of fruit, who is not only the city’s icon but the dominant image in Los Angeles County’s official seal.

* Ganesha Park, one of the valley’s most gracious green spaces, nestled amid the picturesque Ganesha Hills.

* Garey, Gibbs and Gordon, three downtown streets named for investors who built Pomona.

* Grilled burgers at Golden Ox, the burger palace mentioned in Kem Nunn’s crime thriller “Pomona Queen.”

Good stuff! Yet our G, as you might guess, is another G entirely: The Glass House.

There’s no sign outside and the 84 feet of windows along West Second Street reveals what looks like a vacant storefront.

Yet young people of all shapes, sizes and hair colors line up around the block to get in when the Glass House has a show.

The low-key concert venue manages to attract top-flight alternative-rock acts to good ol’ Pomona.

It started with No Doubt, which opened the club with a two-night stand on Jan. 25 and 26, 1996. Among the performers since then: Sonic Youth, the White Stripes, Beck, Weezer, Tricky, the Hives, Sleater-Kinney and the Pixies.

That’s right, the Pixies! Wow!

NOTE TO BAFFLED READERS: If these names mean nothing to you, don’t panic. You’re not old and out of touch! Are you kidding? Music was way better in your era (“your era” being anywhere from the 1930s to the mid-1990s). Yes, yes, it’s all a bunch of noise today, ever since the jitterbug. I understand. Forget I brought it up.

So, anyway.

Many bands play one show in an L.A. club and also play a night at the Glass House, which draws “all the kids from Riverside and Orange County” who can’t get to L.A., Glass House manager Eric Milhouse told me.

Brothers Perry and Paul Tollett co-founded the club to fill the void left by the demise of the Pomona Valley Auditorium and Montclair’s Green Door as live music venues.

How does the 800-capacity Glass House out in the hinterlands of Pomona get such good bands?

The Tollett brothers are successful concert promoters in L.A. and they also stage the popular Coachella Music Festival in Indio, so they have connections. Also, bands often become big only after the Glass
House gets them.

“Usually we get bands on the cusp of becoming successful,” said Glass House employee Erik Palma, who handles contracts.

Then again, Sonic Youth, a veteran band of more than two decades that came to Pomona in July, “wanted to play (here). They knew about the Glass House,” Milhouse said.

Longtime residents will remember the building as a Thrifty Drugs, which operated from 1949 to the 1970s. Some remember the old layout.

“Where the mosh pit is, that’s where they sold hair care products,” building owner Ed Tessier told me. “Where the stage is now, that’s where they dispensed drugs.”

Rock and roll!!

Seriously, if you can look past the tattoos and piercings, the Glass House is a pretty safe environment. Unlike many clubs, all ages are allowed because no alcohol is served. Security guards are watchful.

“Our average age is 14, 15,” Milhouse said. Parents can come in for free to inspect the place.

“It’s kind of a neat thing to do all-ages shows. It’s such a good outlet for kids,” said Milhouse, 28, an earnest, soft-spoken music fan who grew up in Riverside.

“There’s not a lot to do in the Inland Empire except go to the mall,” he added, “and we all know how boring that is.”

On the downside, the club has virtually no seating, so aging fans like me have to figure out how to stand for three hours. (This will become easier in a few years, when I can lean on my walker.)

But what the Glass House lacks in comfort, it makes up for in value.

Tickets average $12, parking is free and Cokes are $2. I saw up-and-comers the Shins, whose music is featured in the movie “Garden State,” for $19. Try getting that deal at Staples.

One memorable recent show was an April date by the Pixies. Set to play Coachella, the newly reunited band did a surprise show in Pomona the night before.

“You saw Jack Black and Zach de la Rocha singing along to every word, as into it as the kids,” Palma said.

To attend the 2002 MTV Music Awards in L.A. and their Glass House show later that night, the White Stripes had to be creative.

“They flew into Pomona on a helicopter,” Milhouse said. “They landed a few blocks from here.”

(David Allen writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday, three crash landings a week.)

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  • Dominick

    Thanks for writing about my favorite place in Pomona. I actually went there yesterday to buy some tickets at the adjacent Glass House Record Store, and I noticed that the Tiki Room was completely demolished. I think I teared up a bit.

  • Miss T

    I’ve seen many shows here. I think my favorite was the Punks vs. Psychos tour with Tiger Army headlining! I know, I don’t expect much of anyone to know who Tiger Army are but I just think it’d be wacky to namedrop them on the David Allen blog!

    For the older and/or four-eyed people (like myself!) attending shows at the Glass House, I find that the balcony level is the best place to stand. If you stay down on the stage level, you just might be swept away by the major push and shove to get to the stagefront by kids half your age and lose or break your glasses in the process!

    [My problem with the balcony is that it gets even hotter up there than on the floor. Then again, I’m not seeing shows where people are shoving each other, so I can see your point. — DA]

  • remy

    Whatever happened to Eric Milhouse?

    [I heard he went to San Diego to manage a club there. I liked the guy. — DA]