While much attention has been given to the plight of the Ché Café, the larger Porter’s Pub (550-person capacity) has been proceeding with little fanfare, presenting national artists, often to a packed house.
In the center of the county on a forested plot of land, Porter’s Pub would seem to be a dream venue. It’s an all-ages concert spot that you can buy a drink at if you’re 21.
Upcoming shows include hip-hop (Denzel Curry, Brother Ali, Watsky, Yelawolf) and metal (Devil You Know, Arsis). Local alt-rockers Unwritten Law and a five-artist reggae fest are set for September.
Porter’s Pub’s most successful niche has been hip-hop. Headliners have included Nipsy Hussle, Kendrick Lamar, Wu-Tang founder GZA (all sell-outs), Common, Xzibit, and KRS-One.
There seemed to be a question of safety, however, when “gangster rapper” Too Short played Porter’s in March.
“There were at least 15 uniformed and three undercover cops there,” says one Porter’s regular. “They were interrogating people. Some people definitely turned around and left because of that.”
Lt. Doug O’Dell is part of UCSD’s 36-person police force. As head of the Specialized Services Division, he oversees deployment of officers for Porter’s Pub shows. He said he could not answer questions and that all media questions must go through UCSD information officer Jeff Gattas. A call to Gattas was not returned.
The Porter’s Pub building is owned by UCSD. The business has been owned and operated for the past eight years by Stephen Lawler, who says Porter’s Pub provides plenty of security and a clean record. “Obviously we’re doing something right. We are proud to host a mostly incident-free venue.”
The insider adds that Porter’s Pub has become San Diego’s hip-hop destination for one reason: “It allows under-age kids, and those are the ones who come out for up-and-coming artists.”