Bands including Stoner and the Mattson 2 recently had scheduled shows at a brand-new place called AWE Bar, in the Yucca Valley space that was formerly Gadi’s.
Then … all of a sudden, the shows were cancelled, rescheduled or relocated—raising questions and adding a level of mystery regarding the new venue. To find out what is going on, I reached out to Clark Fyans, the co-founder and director of AWE.
“We were a little ambitious when we were trying to get our opening,” Fyans said. “Our first show was supposed to be on Oct. 1. This building’s really old. It was built in 1960, so I knew that it was going to be a little bit of a rat’s nest or Pandora’s box—and sure enough, once I did open things up, I found some things that needed to be improved and brought up to code. We’re hoping to get the building open by the end of (November).”
Fyans explained how he came to own AWE Bar.
“I used to work for Red Bull for a long time, and I had a really great job with them, but it just got to the point where I felt like I was building things for other people, and not building things for myself,” Fyans said. “… My friends were sitting there just talking, and we came up with this idea of living in awe. I really started developing this brand and decided to move out to Joshua Tree, which has always been on my radar.
“I was working for Red Bull Media House as the supervising producer of feature films. I was there for about 10 years, and went from Utah to Alaska to L.A. I started coming out to the desert. I was naturally drawn out to the Joshua Tree area and found Pioneertown. I’m a musician myself, and I was kind of coming out here to look for about 10 acres, to put a barn on it so I can play music and have other people come and play music. … I ended up stumbling upon a place in Pioneertown that was, like, 40 acres, and a parcel next to it that’s 40 acres. We are building a house and a recording studio.”
That will be known as the AWE Ranch. Next came the bar.
“Then I was like, you know, a liquor license will be really nice to have up here in case we ever did an event or whatnot,” Fyans said. “Since it was COVID, a lot of different restaurants were shutting down and not reopening, so I came down to Yucca Valley and found a spot here that used to be called Gadi’s. I went in and talked to the owner for about two or three hours, and by the end of that, we actually made a deal. I wasn’t super-interested in owning a bar-restaurant or music venue, but I walked into the venue part of this building, and it immediately blew my mind away—especially the ceiling. Immediately, I was just in awe. I just stopped talking, and every single person I bring into that room … basically stops in their footsteps, and looks up, and they’re just like, ‘Holy shit.’ I’m not a very religious person, but it reminds me of a church.”
Fyans said he prides himself on the quality that both AWE endeavors will have for artists.
“I’ve retrofitted the whole venue; I’m really trying to treat it like a full audiophile room,” Fyans said. “I’ve had, like, three audio technicians come in there and say that this is one of the best-sounding rooms they’ve ever been in. We put in a full Meyer system, which is probably the top audio PA system; a full, brand-new board; and built a new proper stage. I have a whole bunch of Hollywood Bowl wood that I acquired a couple of years back, and I’m going to be using it throughout the whole project. The stage is built out of that.”
Fyans said that AWE Bar will fill a need in the high desert.
“I think that Yucca Valley needs another spot. Joshua Tree is always kind of rough up here when you come in to try to eat, when everything closes at 8,” Fyans said. “I’m not trying to upscale anything necessarily, but I think there’s a little bit of a gap for a certain kind of food. But the real reason for this is I think the desert just needs another venue. It’s not by any means trying to be a competitor of the Alibi or Pappy’s; it’s more trying to work and create so there can be more drive and more musicians who can play up here.”
Fyans said he thinks now is the perfect time for another high-quality music venue in the desert.
“There are a lot of local musicians here … from your local, open-mic-Sunday stuff, all the way up to Queens of the Stone Age, Eagles of Death Metal—and I heard that Kanye West just bought a place here,” Fyans said. “You have all these incredible professional touring musicians who are out here, but there are not a lot of places for them to all play.
“We really are trying to focus on two different elements. One is trying to provide a space for local musicians to be able to get onstage and play music and hopefully make some income. … We’re also really hoping—with the kind of the vibe, and the energy, and the equipment we’re putting into this—that we will have a lot of underplays and downplays from larger bands who want to come in.”
After Fyans expressed his desire to highlight local music, I asked why the events listed at the bar are all strictly 21-and-over affairs.
“That’s not necessarily my decision,” Fyans said. “I think that once we get the systems working, we’ll expand. Once you start bringing 18-year-olds into a bar, there has to be a whole other level of scrutiny. Of course, we don’t want underage drinking to be happening, or people to be sneaking in using fake IDs, so once our security gets moving, and we get a system and work out some of the wrinkles, then we can start to expand to have under-21 shows. I’ve got a brand new place, and we just got our liquor license given to us, so we really want to keep things clean.”
AWE Bar is located at 56193 Twentynine Palms Highway, in Yucca Valley. For more information, visit awe-bar.com.