From The Bronze on Buffy The Vampire Slayer to The Peach Pit on Beverly Hills, 90210 TV shows and films are filled with fake clubs where the music is never so loud that the characters can’t banter over it. But sometimes shows and films go for a bit of extra verisimilitude by shooting in real venues. Here’s a few of those venues from some of our favorite TVs and movies.
1. Purple Rain
First Avenue (Minneapolis, MN)
The late Prince’s autobiographical film about his rise to stardom was shot in his hometown of Minneapolis and featured many of his old haunts. Though he had graduated to bigger stages by the time of the film’s 1984 release, Prince cut his teeth playing at First Avenue, a club known for a forward-thinking mix of r&b, British New Wave, funk and garage rock, a heady mix that would prove to be influential in the development of young Prince’s sound. So it was only right that Prince’s on-screen alter ego The Kid would play the club that Prince played many times in his early days.
2. Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
Union Pool (Brooklyn, NY)
This indie-rock soaked rom-com featuring Michael Cera and Kat Dennings is the most late ‘00s film possible, down to the appearance of Vampire Weekend on the soundtrack. The film features both New York’s punk mecca Arlene’s Grocery (where Cera’s band plays) and Union Pool (at the time one of the main incubators in Brooklyn’s thriving indie rock scene). The film has a strange sense of geography worthy of Gossip Girl (characters can get from one borough to the next in minutes), but it still feels like a nostalgic time capsule of a lost era in New York music. Fun fact: the hipsters at Union Pool insisted the film call it Brooklyn Pool so it could keep its underground edge.
3. A Star Is Born
Stagecoach, Glastonbury, and Coachella
Actor and director Bradley Cooper wanted to keep his version of A Star is Born as grounded as possible, so he famously shot live scenes with his character Jackson Maine and Lady Gaga’s Ally at some of the world’s most famous music festivals, including Stagecoach, Glastonbury and Coachella. Kris Kristofferson gave up a few minutes of his Glastonbury time for Cooper to film, and the Coachella scenes were shot a few days after Gaga’s headlining set to an audience filled with her “Little Monster” fans.
4. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Cameo Theater (Miami, FL)
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective was the movie that made Jim Carrey a superstar, much to everyone’s surprise. Perhaps the most surprising part of the film is that Ace catches a set by the death metal band Cannibal Corpse, performing their classic “Hammer Smashed Face” onstage at Miami’s Cameo Theater. Even more surprising is that Carrey was a huge fan of the band, and personally requested that Cannibal Corpse appear in the film, and even had the filming schedule re-arranged to accommodate the band. When they arrived on set, Carrey personally greeted them by reciting the lyrics to “Hammer Smashed Face” to the band. Just sit with that image for a while.
5. The Doors
Whisky A Go Go (Los Angeles, CA)
In Oliver Stone’s biopic about Jim Morrison, there’s a scene where the band plays Whisky A Go Go, the legendary Los Angeles rock venue where the band played early in their career, and which was later the launching ground for Guns N’ Roses and Mötley Crüe. For a long time in the ‘60s, The Doors were the de facto house band of the club, until their 12-minute long version of “The End” started to get on everyone’s nerves.
RKCNDY (Seattle, WA)
Cameron Crowe’s love letter to the early ‘90s Seattle scene got the details right. He filmed concert scenes at some of Seattle’s hippest venues, capturing Alice in Chains at the underground club Desoto and the fictional band Citizen Dick at RKCNDY, which also held a wrap party for the film, featuring none other than the about to blow up Pearl Jam. Like a lot of the bands featured in the film, RKCNDY isn’t around anymore, but the film still serves as a useful time capsule.