Nic Adler, owner of The Roxy and founder of Adler Integrated, is hard at work this week setting up for the Sunset Strip Music Festival (@SSMF on Twitter) which is all day tomorrow, Saturday, August 17, 2012.
Some L.A. Natives are worth reporting due to their family ties or current power positions … and then there is the rarefied native who is all of the above but also is consistently involved with the changing fabric of our town.
Nic was an early adopter of social media as a business tool, he is actively involved with urban planning goals to make the Sunset Strip walk-able from Doheny to Fairfax, and got his roots at 18 by putting on the Sunset Strips first hip hop club ‘Ballistyx’ with a group of friends, including David Faustino.
Day in the life:
Every morning, Nic’s life consist of 3 things: Walking his two boxers with his wife Allison around their neighborhood near the Fox lot, doing a couple hours of work during his ‘peak’ hours, and lots of green tea. Nic is a vegan, which may be the reason for his youthful appearance, “either that or, because my mother is Swedish” he says. His mother is Britt Ekland, the 1970s Bond girl who played Mary Goodnight in The Man with the Golden Gun. His father is Lou Adler, a former music manager, club owner and two-time Grammy winner — he won Record of the Year (Carole King’s It’s Too Late) and Album of the Year (Carole King’s Tapestry) both in 1972.
That’s not where Nic’s Hollywood maze of family members ends … Nic has 8 siblings: Cisco Adler (singer formerly of Shwayze and White Star who is now performing on his own: Cisco is the son of Lou Adler and then-girlfriend Phyllis Somer), T. J. McDonnell (who is a drummer in Cisco’s current band, and son of Britt Ekland and Slim Jim from the Stray Cats), Victoria Sellers (who is from Nic’s mother’s marriage to Peter Sellers), and another sister named Eve. Nic also has 4 brothers under 20 — Manny, Ike, Pablo, and Oscar – from his father’s second marriage to actress Page Hannah, the younger sister of actress Daryl Hannah.
At 12pm, Nic gets to The Roxy where he starts by going over the night before and spends some time in booking office to talk about new bands.
He will then spend a few hours dealing with his new business, Adler Integrated, which provides social media services for the Staples Center, Club Nokia, Moody Theatre, a bunch of apps, and of course, The Roxy. He references Mitchell at The Echo in Silverlake for doing such a good job of bringing the community together on the east side for shows, through social media and good programming on the East Side. He wants to be that for the West Side.
For those of you who follow Nic on Instagram, you will note his eye and good use of filters and color. His photo skills are not lost on the IG community — he has over 7000 followers and recently got his first gig as a photographer with Golden Road Beer — L.A.’s only craft brewery whose labels read: “Brewed 5 Miles Away.” The owner and his wife are good friends with Nic and his wife.
Nic then heads over to Soho House where he will have a couple meetings a day. Nic has been a member since their L.A. launch and spoke at several West Hollywood city council meetings on their behalf to help them get permits to serve food and alcohol and remodel the top two floors of Luckman Plaza which were the former penthouse home of the building’s owner.
Nic has gotten really into urban planning since becoming owner at The Roxy and has made it a goal to bridge the gaps of empty lots and dead zones between Doheny and Fairfax. He would like to see people come to the Strip for the entire night and be able to walk the entire length without feeling bored or lost or un-enticed.
He is in and out of West Hollywood’s City Hall a couple times a week for meetings; he is on the board for the library, the board of the marketing burueau, and on the parking committee. He is supportive and proactive about bringing new businesses and companies to the strip to fill those gaps. “The Strip never spoke up” he told us. Now they do.
These days, a good part of his day goes into planning for Sunset Strip Music Festival (to be held Saturday, August 18, 2012 — with several days of events leading up to the weekend – see compliete line-ups here) with two outdoor stages on Sunset Blvd. between San Vicente and Doheny, with additional performances in venues along the way including The Roxy, Key Club, Whisky A Go-Go, and more. Headlining acts include as Bad Religion, De La Soul, Far East Movement, Steve Aoki, Marilyn Manson, and others. Vendors, VIP rooftop lounge areas, a beer garden, autograph tent and interactive experiences also dot the strip that day.
Originally a one day event, the festival keeps morphing into more and more events from venues on the Strip wanting to take advantage of the built-in marketing and excitement; this year the festivities have already begun with a kick-off event this past Sunday.
#SSMF is put together by a group of owners and reps of local businesses who make up the Sunset Strip Business Association (SSBA) including Nic Adler who is the Vice President. Other members include Mikeal Maglieri (Rainbow Bar & Grill/Whisky A Go-Go), Rich Oken (Mondrian), Kendra Cole (SkyBar), Shelley Armistead (Soho House), David Meyers (House of Blues), Bruce Silberman (Allied Parking), and more.
The SSBA also puts on the Sunset Strip Farmer’s Market every Thursday (the chicest farmer’s market you’ll every see — even the Soho House and Nobu have booths). They also organize an annual beer garden in the empty lot (owned by an unknown family trust) on Sunset next to the Hustler store. They are responsible for organizing the 35 guitar towers painted by artists like Risk and Shepard Fairey that line the Strip (you will find one in the valet area at Soho House).
Using the principles of social media, hotels work with stores and venues work with restaurants, and so forth, to collaborate and support business on the Strip. A planned ‘tweet crawl‘ 5 yrs ago that wound up at the Andaz proved successful for all.
Nic is now thinking about a Sunset Strip Chili Cook-Off — much like the well-known one in Malibu each summer — where Nic happened to win first prize for his vegan chili 3 years ago. “I didn’t tell anyone it was vegan until we won.”
While Nic was still tinkering with innovative ways to bring the Sunset Strip together, he launched a series between The Roxy and the Andaz Hotel (formerly the Hyatt) called “Under the Covers.” Bands played original songs and cover songs in the downstairs lobby followed by an all-expense paid night upstairs in a hotel room where the band hosted a live podcast from bed. Intended to be a behind-the-scenes segment, bands were encouraged to drink, jump on the beds, etc. All of the action was documented by a local photog — a different one was choose each time. Some bands from the series include The Mowgli’s (one of Nic’s favorite’s), The Bolts, Love and a .38, and more. Bands were hand selected among those who had paid their dues at The Roxy, and were considered to be part of a ‘freshaman class” in the L.A. music world.
Nic will go back to The Roxy around 5pm and work til 7pm or 8pm until doors open — his best friend is the manager — so he leaves the bar in good hands. If it’s a big show, he will go home and come back to work the night.
“I’ll go stripping if my friends are in town” he tells us … what is stripping? Simple. Just walking on the strip from spot to spot. A couple favorite stop-offs for Nic include the somewhat newly opened Rock n Riley’s (where Nic is an investor/owner along with a group of low pro friends in the entertainment business). A new spot ‘Pearl’ will soon be added to the list of stops brought to you by Nic and the RnR team, being opened where the old Duke’s Coffee Shop use to be (it closed 6 months ago). The other side of Duke’s is soon to become a resto called “Gorge” and is being opened by one of America’s Top Chefs.
Now, briefly on the topic of Balistyx. We mentioned above that Nic was part of the team that invented the short lived but game changing all ages weekly hip-hop party on the strip in the early 90s. The other people involved were David Faustino (Married with Children), Dan Eisenstein and Robert Gavin – all L.A. natives from the valley, Beverly Hills and Malibu who met during summer school at Bel Air Prep, where Nic was re-doing a failed English class.
Nic had been attending Colorado Rocky Mountain School, a boarding school he was tipped off to by a ski instructor during one of his family’s routine vacations to Aspen growing up. The school insisted students have jobs such as lunch crew or ranch, and it was there Nic attributes learning such values as how to start something and finish it, as well as his sense of community. It was here he honed in his photography skills as well, taking a semester off to intern with a head NBA photographer.
#TruffleNotes: Nic’s dad Lou Adler is a long time seat holder at the Laker’s games, sitting on the wood between bff Jack Nicholson and the opposing team. Other long standing ticket holders in that section include Yori and Alec Gores.
Dan had just finished a little movie called Pump up the Volume with Christian Slater (he was the kid passing out tapes for the underground radio show). The four of them went out one night, picking up Brian Austin Green (Beverly Hills 90210) along the way, and continued to hang out every night in 1990. The days were spent in David Faustino dressing room on the set of Married with Children. “There were about 9 of us” says Nic. “Our schedules were based around Dave’s shooting schedule.”
They were going out so often, they finally they decided to throw a party. Nic’s dad co-owned Whiskey A-Go-Go at the time so he offered it up as a venue. The Whiskey blocked out Thursdays on the calendar starting that June and they began working on invites. Friends who were in tagging crews, who “if you made a list, are all huge artists now,” were faxing back and forth samples to Nic in adminstrative offices of his Colorado boarding school where he was now about to graduate. DJ Speed from NWA (who they had an in with) signed on to DJ, Nic’s dad volunteered to work the door (who had no problem taking cash for cuts), and one of his sisters did the box office — a real family affair.
Driving up to the The Whiskey for their opening, Nic was mesmorized by the 3 block line that had formed to get in. 4 days out of high school, and Nic’s crew had the largest party in town (with a little rivalry from Larry Pollock).
The L.A. riots changed everything. The idea that anyone could be into hip hop was over.
Nic skipped college. “I made a life decision to sleep through my alarm clock on my second try for the SATs.” Then one day his dad called and said “I need your help.” In the 70s and early 80s, bands booked themselves. In the mid 80s, promoters like Goldenvoice (who runs Coachella) began to use the clubs on the Strip to fill their pre-booked talent. You’d have to pay 30k for a Black Crows concert and so began a transition some would call the demise of the Sunset Strip. The Strip gained ‘a velvet rope mentality,’ as Nic put it, and business owners started draining its reputation for gain without putting anything back.
Over the course of the next ten years, Nic went from sometimes-owner to complete and total hands-on, involved-in-everything owner. Nic had opened up other venues in the meantime, including Creeque Alley Sports Bar (named after the Mama’s & Papa’s song, now the Dark Room) which was suppose to be a younger version of a restaurant called Georgia on Melrose that his father owned in partnership with Denzel Washington, and a restaurant called Central in back of Millennium which closed in 2004. Nic also managed bands for ten years who were signed to Maverick, Interscope, and Geffen.
But his focus eventually turned 110% to The Roxy.
Nic started booking the bands in-house and cut out the promoters. The music had gotten stale; and a new talent buyer Megan Jacobs came in. She later introduced Nic to a band manager named Kyra Reed who was an early adopter and proponent of social media. Her strengths were understanding online community and was one of the first to employ blogs for bands to keep fans up to date. She is now part of the team at Adler Intergrated.
It was at this time Nic met his wife, Allison — a bartender at The Roxy who found it ‘unacceptable’ he did not know all his employees names. Also on her list of items that were unacceptable: The Roxy’s MySpace page.
With that, Nic set out to revamp the page and watched the numbers climb, taking note of what worked and what did not. He started brainstorming session on how The Roxy was going to engage with their neighbors and their communities — both online and off.
He became interested in learning about every new social network, blog platform and online tool that came about …
Nic got out the whiteboards and gathered the staff for weekly meetings to keep up and increase the pace. Nic got involved in online conversations, chiming in when The Roxy was mentioned.
“If someone blogged about shitty security, shitty shows or our terrible beer selection, it would go on the white board”. If something good was said, he left drinks at the bar under their Twitter handle; if something bad was said, he would gather the group to brainstorm again, and comment back when they had fixed it.
When the social media revolution came around, The Roxy was ready for it. Today The Roxy and Nic have a active blog, an influential Twitter feed and a massive fan base providing a heartbeat of the new Strip.
The Sunset Strip Music Festival is this Saturday, August 18th, 2012 with pre-events lined up all week.