A dimly lit bar is concealed off Wilshire Boulevard in Santa Monica’s promenade district. It is one of the many dive-bars in Los Angeles that fervidly promotes live music. Inside I can hear that all-too-familiar hubbub of the archetypal punter.

On stage a snare drum is struck in repetition until all parties concerned are satisfied with the seemingly indiscernible variation. A man approaches the mic with nonchalance and introduced himself and his cohorts as a “newish” California band. Despite his caveated, the crowed remain enthused.

Photo by Gabriel Gurrola

I later learn that the man behind the mic is an Australian fellow named Simon – an expat who has just celebrated his 10th year in America and his second in LA. We pull up a seat at the bar and trade stories. I tell Simon of my ambitious travels and my quest to better understand Los Angeles’s rich music heritage. He explains to me how the cultural sensation of the LA music scene is subtle and atypical of the prevalent glitz and glamour the city so bluntly promotes. “The attitude is synonymous with the artist and there is a genuine buzz to playing music in the city,” Simon explains.

The main point of attraction for most tourists traveling to LA is Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood – colloquially known as The Strip. This stretch of history-stained bitumen gave birth to some of the most world’s most influential rock bands including Guns ’n Roses, and the Doors. Clubs such as Whisky a Go Go, Viper Room, the Roxy Theatre, and the Rainbow Room still stand as a testament to time, however, many locals will protest that today they are nothing more than a structure.

Artists such as Henry Rollins, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pavement, and Lou Barlow, Silver Lake has become the nucleus of indie rock music in Los Angeles.

I get talking to a visibly weathered man – his tattoos tell a thousand stories. The 60-something LA veteran points to the back entrance of the Whisky and reminisces on a chance encounter he once had with a young Jim Morrison. As he rolls thought his memory bank, Slash and Axl Rose lookalikes wander past every so often, while celebrity spotters wait in vain. The tattooed man is saddened by the state of his once-fertile mecca. Be that as it may, these iconic venues have a constant influx of modern-day artists, gawkers, and, of course, the dreamers, who wish to experience greatness in their own ways. It is this touch of mystique that will ensure the turnstiles spin for for years to come.

Every city that stakes claim to the arts has its bohemian district. New York had the East Village in the 60s, 70s and 80s (later migrating to the more affordable Brooklyn), London has Camden in the east, and LA has Silver Lake. Through artists such as Henry Rollins, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pavement, and Lou Barlow, Silver Lake has become the nucleus of indie rock music in Los Angeles. The streets are lined with a carefully crafted edginess. Cafes are filled to the brim with consciously clad dreamers, often with a guitar slung over the shoulder ready to offload their latest musings. A local tells me it’s the place to be and she has no desire of eloping.

I decide to check out the famed Silver Lake Lounge, a venue that attracts hundred of would-be rockstars a year, chasing that illusive yet tangible notion of success. It is clear that there is an unspoken respect for this venue; the aforementioned hipsters congregate here like Buddhists at a shrine. Like the Strip, Silver Lake has a culture embedded in it that dictates its day-to-day operations.

I start to think about Simon’s sentiments — how the glitz and glamour of Hollywood has no place in the music industry. I also begin to wonder what Hollywood itself would think about a statement such as this. Would it laugh and rub its hands with glee? Is everything a product of its might in some way or another?

On my final morning I talk to a young busker in Venice who tells me she is a classically trained vocalist with ambitions of becoming a star. Her ticket to a life of luxury is her voice and the small space of concrete she works from each day.

There is indeed an awe-inspiring cross-section in this city that allows a formidable spread of minds and cultures to dominate, yet respectfully coexist with one another. The history will always drive Los Angeles — the money plays its part, too — but it is the collection of yearning minds that will continue to make it sparkle.