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 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?

8 Replies to “Fullerton DIY Venue Riff Mountain Forced to Close”

  1. Please remember this when considering your political stance. Wanting big government” to be involved in everything else in your lives, but want it to say the hell away from your musical “safe space” requires dealing with some major cognitive dissonance.

    1. Lmao at the irony of wielding the term “cognitive dissonance” for such a facile imbecilic set of logic. “You want health care but dont think a music venue should be shut down????”
      Buzzwords like “safe space” in lieu of any actual reasoned arguments are a dead giveaway you’ve got brain worms.

  2. Slidebar doesn’t have permits.

    Why do they get special treatment?

    Maybe OCWeekly can look into why bar owning friends of a certain Councilwoman get to operate without permits while nobodies hurting no one get shut down.

  3. In all honesty, I can’t feel any sympathy for Poska and his cronies getting shut down because while I do understand the hypocrisy in the whole situation, Poska screwed a lot of people over in an attempt to preserve Riff Mountain.

    Story time:

    Before Riff Mountain was a thing, Poska had the lease to a recording studio next door which we colloquially referred to as the Wherehouse. I volunteered as an audio engineer and paid rent for the studio. About a year after the studio was running, Poska had a thought to expand the Wherehouse for a rehearsal/live venue space. He asked me about it, wondering if it was a good idea, and I said “go for it!”.

    Slowly over time, Poska became much more involved with Riff Mountain than with the Wherehouse, scheduling more shows and giving less time for artists to record next door. The final nail on the coffin was when the neighbors accidentally flooded a few rooms in the studio. In order to pay for damages, he sold the lease of the studio TO THE NEIGHBORS WHO DAMAGED IT and DID NOT BOTHER TO INFORM ANY OF THE TENANTS ABOUT IT. I was only informed about it from a friend of Poska’s who was living there at the time who stated that he’d be moving out soon. I wondered why, and it was due to the worst case scenario. Yet, because I firmly believe Poska lacks any principles (this is a guy who makes and distributes vaporwave because it’s PROFITABLE), he kept Riff Mountain to himself. I think this is an extremely selfish move on his part. There were 15 other people who used the studio semi-frequently and relied on it as a means to record music, yet Poska decides to cater to his select visual artist friends and host shitty local emo bands. It’s kind of unfortunate that Riff Mountain closed before GOOD artists would play there (I was hoping for ACxDC), but honestly, fuck Poska!

    If you care about DIY, actually DO IT YOURSELF. You can do the same thing he did, but much more ethically.

  4. “By eliminating drug- and alcohol-free safe spaces…”

    Also, this is a blatant lie. Poska had a bar in the back and sold beer and wine to those who were 21.

  5. EDIT:

    So I have been informed by one of the former tenants of the Wherehouse that Poska did NOT sell the lease to the neighbors. He simply returned it to the landlord who owned the property. Also, the neighbors didn’t directly damage the Wherehouse. There was an unknown third party involved.

    That being said, Poska STILL failed to inform the tenants that he returned the lease and kept Riff Mountain for himself. I’m not sure if any engineer can relate with this, but I grew a strong sentimental connection to the Wherehouse, and to see it just get ripped away from me and from everyone else who relied on it disheartened me greatly. My subjective feelings still stand clear in this situation.

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