f you walked into The Casbah
before it opened for the day, the words “nationally iconic music venue” might not be what comes to mind.
Tucked between I-5 and San Diego International, the windowless nightclub feels about as spacious as a studio apartment, with year-round holiday lights strung throughout and black walls peppered with random band stickers and concert posters. If you took a closer look at some of the names on those posters, though, it would all start to make sense. The Black Keys, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Arcade Fire are just a handful of the generation-defining artists who've rocked the stage at this iconic San Diego space in the 30 years since its inception, earning it an outsized reputation on the national music scene.
“The White Stripes came here a few times. The first time, we added them to a staff members' birthday party for a few hundred bucks,” recalls Tim Mays, the club’s co-founder. “There was only maybe 40 or 50 people in here that time. Jack White was too young to legally come into the bar at the time, so he actually had to wait outside until they took the stage.”