This club is really bizarre. But it's cool like that. There's a clown's skeleton. That should attest to the general collection of stuff at the CIA. The whole thing is very carnival fun house, and the path to the bathroom has a distorted hallway thing. Anyway, it's a real trip just walking around there place, and that can add up to a half hour by itself. If you need to escape the small main viewing area which gets extremely loud during rock band performances, head onto the patio to watch a cult film or music video / classic film montages. The bands are definitively independent and local. I've been to 4 shows so far, 3 of them with my friends as part of the bill. The club owners are quite friendly, and the social scene is quirky like the club. The people you meet have a common interest in either the strange or the type of music, and so the crowd is united at least somewhat, giving people at least one thing to talk about, assuming the decor isn't interesting enough. It also gets decorated like The Haunted Mansion at Disneyland for certain holidays. The bar isn't cheap, but the CIA is basically the worst place to get drunk anyway. It's not the best (or worst) neighborhood, so if you're leaving at 1 or 2am, walk in a group. The club is a good one, as has waaay more character than other all ages clubs in LA. The cover is worth it (if you get in for 8 dollars, you can catch a movie and a show) and the music is pretty solid.
Pros: Zany atmosphere, awesome shows, Plenty of stuff to keep you busy, Interesting people
Cons: Not the best neighborhood, Main concert area can get rather loud if a rock band doesn't use discretion in their amp settings