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Oakland's Concert Jewel

Oakland's resurrected music venue is finally re-opening its doors.


Published:

Nathanael Bennett

MORE THAN 80 YEARS AFTER Oakland’s Fox Theater opened its doors for the first time, the venue will roll out the red carpets again—not as a cinema but as a premier 3,000-seat pop music concert hall. On February 5, the Fox will star in its own Friends of the Oakland Fox Gala, a well-deserved celebration for everyone who has spent the past decade resurrecting this historic landmark.

“It’s a dream come true to see this come together,” says Patricia Dedekian, president of the nonprofit preservation group Friends of the Oakland Fox. “This has been an incredibly difficult process—years of planning, with obstacles to overcome all along the way. People are going to be astounded when they see this theater and by what it’s going to mean to the city once it opens.” Nathanael Bennett

Opened in 1928, the Fox was one of the West Coast’s most spectacular movie palaces, operating as a first-run cinema until the mid-1960s, when more cost-efficient theaters came along. For years, the Fox seemed destined for demolition, but even a 1970s fire, the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and decades of rot didn’t do it in. 

By the late 1990s, Friends of the Oakland Fox, a spin-off of the Oakland Heritage Alliance preservation organization, teamed with the city of Oakland and local developers and donors to raise nearly $80 million, and the epic restoration became the centerpiece of Oakland’s Uptown district’s arts, dining, and nightlife resurgence. 

Original details of the 3,000-capacity Fox—including enormous sculptures of Hindu-esque deities on either side of the stage—have been painstakingly restored, but it’s the modern touches (comfortable seating, several new bars, larger bathrooms) that make Fox 2.0 state of the art.

Booking acts is veteran rock promoter Gregg Perloff’s Another Planet Entertainment, which has a track record of bringing big-time artists to Berkeley’s intimate Greek Theatre—a good indication that the Fox will give East Bay rock fans a new music scene to savor.

“Let’s just say it’s going to be an incredible venue, with the finest sound system in the world,” says Perloff, a Lafayette resident. “It’s also in an incredible location, a dead-center spot for the entire Bay Area.” 

 

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