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Fullerton DIY Venue Riff Mountain Forced to Close

CoolSide at Riff Mountain @octaviomehhh

In another instance of what seems to be Orange County’s eternal war against DIY music and art venues, Riff Mountain announced via Instagram [1] yesterday that they’ve closed their doors for good. Apparently, the city of Fullerton told them that permits were required to continue hosting “loud concerts”  and public assemblies. Since then, a plethora of artists have expressed their condolences and gratitude for the space on social media (Riff Mountain’s IG story timeline marker currently looks like a line of ants).

Founded over a year ago by Pacific Nature’s Alyx Poska, Riff Mountain was a safe space for all of those interested and involved the greater DIY music scene. Fans of all ages could see anything from local favorites like Audacity, Corrupt Vision, and Tunnels to larger touring bands in this intimate venue, without having to worry about drunk idiots or testosterone-fueled bouncers. Seminal hardcore bands, Strife and ACxDC, were even supposed to play there on March 8th, but obviously, that show will either be relocated or canceled.  

The caption on Poska’s Instagram post reads, “The city asked us to get permits and it costs a lot of money to get up to code/ get those permits. We do not have the time or resources for construction, and cannot host any future events. Riff Mountain is closing down and we’d like to thank everyone for all their art, music and friendship. We might not have a physical space anymore but the things we created here and the connections people made will continue beyond this physical location.” See the full post below.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time an Orange County city has taken measures to shut down a DIY venue: many of us still remember the glory days of Santa Ana’s Unit B. Before that, there was Koo’s Cafe. While it is important that these spaces are structurally sound, safe, etc., it is also important to take note of the role they play in our communities. Without all ages, DIY spots, where else can kids see live music? By eliminating drug- and alcohol-free safe spaces, we’re taking away some of the few places kids can hang out without having to deal with peer pressure, boredom, and many of the other ailments of adolescence. Furthermore, it damages our local music and arts scene (which, surprise, includes more than just Downtown Disney).

Poska and the Riff Mountain family seem to want to move forward in a positive light. After all, why shouldn’t they? The DIY scene always finds a way to prevail, even in unfortunate circumstances such as this. Another DIY venue will pop up in the next year or so and when whatever city it’s in finds out, they’ll try to shut it down. It’s a perpetual battle of city politics against grassroots culture.

Here’s an idea: why don’t OC cities provide some kind of support for DIY venues instead of making it next to impossible for them to survive?