Entertainment & Events
The Casbah turns 25
The Casbah will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in January 2014. It will be an entire month of great shows with bands that have played the club over the years as well as a few up and comers and a whole slew of local bands.
The City of San Diego is going to proclaim Tuesday, January 7 as Casbah Day in San Diego to help get the month underway. World renowned graphic designer Shepard Fairey is going to be designing a special Casbah 25 Year t-shirt which will only be available in the month of January.
The Casbah opened on Kettner Blvd. in 1989, in a little hole-in-the-wall space about a quarter mile north from the current location at the corner of Kettner and Laurel. The capacity of the original location was 75 people who were served beer, wine, and coffee.
At the time the Casbah opened, the plan was for the venue to be a bar/coffee house with occasional live music, mostly featuring roots, acoustic, Americana, and R&B.
This plan lasted for only a few months before the owners started getting calls from local promoters and booking agents around the country looking for a place to book their bands. This was right around the time that Seattle erupted as the hotbed of new music and with similar scenes developing in Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and Austin, there were a lot of young new bands hitting the road looking for shows.
It wasn’t long before there were bands playing the Casbah 7 nights a week – punk bands, loud rock bands, funk bands, grunge bands, etc. At the same time, the local San Diego scene started to take off and Casbah became ground zero for the developing local scene.
Bands that played the club in its early incarnation include Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Reverend Horton Heat, Lemonheads, Catherine Wheel, Goo Goo Dolls, Melvins, Uncle Tupelo, Urge Overkill as well as up and coming locals such as Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Lucy’s Furcoat, rust, Inch, Rugburns, Jewel, aMiniature and Crash Worship.
By 1993 Casbah had outgrown its capacity and started looking for a new, larger venue. The current location, which at the time was a struggling lesbian bar, came up for sale in late 1993. The move was made and the new Casbah opened in January 1994. The new location was 3 times as large and had a full liquor license, an enclosed patio, as well as a back room/bar with pool tables and seating.
As the years went by, Casbah kept booking bands that were up and coming and many of them went on to become top drawing bands in the country – bands like White Stripes, Vampire Weekend, The Arcade Fire, Queens of the Stone Age, The Black Keys, Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, Modest Mouse, Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Sharon Jones have all played the club in recent years.
Casbah also continues to develop the local band scene, nurturing such bands as Pinback, The Silent Comedy, Transfer, Mrs. Magician, Little Hurricane, The Burning of Rome, Family Wagon and Barbarian, among others, over the recent years.