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September 15, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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Where do the children play?

One thing I’ve noticed during my gig-going of late is the growing number of people at concerts who infuriate me, and I’ve managed to carelessly group such people into two categories: those who go to gigs but aren’t there for the music and those who love the music but simply don’t know how to behave at gigs. I sound like a dick but let’s be honest, when you go to see a band there are a set of common-fucking-sense guidelines you’re obligated to follow that ensure you and your music loving peers all have a cool time. Such as: it’s cool to be drunk and a little nuts, it’s not cool to be the one-man-mosh pit. Another is it’s cool you’re at the gig but it is not cool to form a circle with your buds in the middle of the audience to chatter and take pictures of yourselves; when everybody there has paid $60 to see this band we expect you to please shut the fuck up and watch them. There are rules. And the only way to learn these rules is to go to gigs, go to them constantly and learn how annoying you are. Everybody has to.

Which brings me to the point: I believe for this reason we need a space in Wellington where high school aged kids can get together, see awesome up-and-coming bands, learn local band knowledge, expand their musical palette, and learn the ropes of live music early to become cool rule-abiding gig-goers that don’t fuck us all off when they reach university. Wellington – we need an awesome underage venue.

Of course there’s Zeal, the underage (sorry, all ages) club at Glover Park between Garett and Ghuznee Streets. Zeal is heavily funded by the City Council and the Ministry of Youth Development, among others. While the emos seem to love it, the place has heavy overtones of general patronising uncoolness that turn much of its target audience away. We need somewhere that is bigger, better and cooler, that doesn’t remind its clientele at every step that they are lame 15 year olds who can’t get in to real bars.

I have no other expectation than for this plea to fall on a city of deaf ears. Most of us couldn’t give less of a shit whether high school kids have their own place to party or not. But we provide young sport enthusiasts with teams and a place to practice; we provide young skateboarders with parks where they can skate in a safe atmosphere off the streets; why not get that shaky, self-doubting kid off MSN on Friday nights and provide him with a place where he can make some friends and gain confidence in himself? God forbid, he might even form a band!

Unfortunately, underage venues always struggle because there’s simply no money in them. The Zeal website even admits that “All-ages are nearly impossible to run at a profit”. Young people rarely have much money of their own to spend and, more importantly they can’t legally purchase alcohol. And as we know, the money made off booze is the key component to whether a venue succeeds or not. Wellington’s only other underage venue, Old Studio 9 on Edward Street, recently closed because the owners couldn’t make the rent with door charges and soft drink sales alone.

So if we can’t have a cool underage venue, and we want kids to gain an education on gig-going and music, what options remain? Sure, the ones who really, truly want to see live music will find a way to do it; fake IDs, sneaking in, etc., but these are hardly positive options for the majority of young people.

The only other alternative is for promoters and tour organizers to make deals with venues that result in more under 18 gigs at places like San Fran, Bodega, and Happy, which either close the bar (there’s that problem again) or give those over the age of 18 bar access with a different entry stamp. I’m aware that this still happens, but it is becoming rarer and rarer.

So I open the floor to feedback. Does Wellington need a venue that can provide an education for our younger brothers and sisters? Is it worth pressuring the right groups into providing Under 18 gigs or are there other, more productive alternatives? Or is the whole thing just silly, plain ole silly?

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Comments (12)

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  1. Chris Gilbert says:

    I really think this piece should be credited to Stephanie Cairns as well.

    Thanks Steph!

  2. bubbles says:

    I totally agree that there should be more AA venues (and preferably some that aren’t run by christian organisations!), but I dont think people being annoying at shows is the main reason why. The reason is so that as many people as possible get to access awesome music and an awesome musical community, so that as they get older and over 18 they too want to come to show/put on shows/play at shows/be generally excited and involved young people. It seems such a shame to shut people out at what is possibly one of the most exciited and enthusiastic times of their lives. I mean jeez, all I had was Zeal. NOT the ideal introduction to the wonderful fun of live shows!

  3. Gordon from Glasgow (who has deal with Wee Hamish (who did not stop crying from Aberdeen tah Auckland) says:

    “Where do the children play?”

    I don’t fecking know. But I wish Wee Hamish would feck off an go play with some children. Otherwise I’ll have to shove him in the… I mean enrol him in some day care centre with other kiddies so he can lurn valuable social skills and not grow up to be an alcoholic like his lovely mother.

    Oh shit, she’s coming! I hope she doesn’t think I’m chatting to that slut from the Better Living commercials…

    Love Gordon

  4. Wee Hamish (who did not stop crying, etc etc) says:

    Oi, Dad, yer scurvy-savourin’ vanilla belly dress wearer! Up yer arse. I’ll play wherever the feck I want. Piss off.

  5. Shitkicker McGee says:

    I think Hamish should be given a travel column!

  6. Naly D says:

    I think the problem with AA venues is not that they are patrionising and fail to gain money, its more the view of parents (and one I’d be likely to share)

    I’d rather my child is at home with his/her family who don’t see them except at night than somewhere I don’t know, with people I’ve never met, possibly having sex, getting drunk and doing drugs.

  7. not chris says:

    Chris. you do it.
    If you feel strongly enough to write an essay about it, then you could’ve spent that time organising a show.
    It’s easy as and costs pretty much nothing of you do it right, and it’s certainly more productive than having a whinge on the internet.

  8. Wee Hamish (who did not stop crying, etc etc) says:

    Considering that his most infamous whinge earned an absurd amount of hits for this website, which ultimately culminates in more advertising revenue, I’d say there’s a pretty penny to be made from bitching on the internet, actually.

  9. mattatattt says:

    dude, if you want something done about this, and I mean ACTUALLY want something done, do it yourself. find a flat with a big enough lounge, put on shows there.
    houses rule, and if you can find hookups then they’re cheap as fuck.
    the last one i did, with a full bar PA, resulted in me breaking even and the touring band getting like $250. it’s all good.

  10. Ritalin did a good job of running their flat as an all-ages venue (Rebel High) for a year in Dunedin in 2003, but the above statement

    “It’s easy as and costs pretty much nothing”

    cannot really be true – getting a PA ain’t easy, and you have to be prepared for the damage to your flat – but yeah, if you get it right it shouldn’t be too bad.

    When I was 13, 14, 15 me and my buddies would get drunk on Kristov and coke and go down to the Artery in Nelson, which was an all-ages venue run by Dave White (who does Phat Club and the Phat parties). They took a tolerant, nay even indulgent attitude to us being off our faces, but eventually someone died in the parking lot after mixing E and alcohol, so they shut it down. It was absolutely fantastic while it was there, and nothing has replaced it.

    On a final note, I find that all-ages crowds tend to dance more and get more into the music, and some guys from Rebel High told me that’s why they loved putting on these shows.

  11. mattatattt says:

    fuck i wish i’d lived here when rebel high was a real thing

  12. Amelia says:

    I very much so agree with that article. Being an underage gig goer at my age is hard. It’d be cool if someone created this trendy all ages venue where you can simply meet cool people and listen to live music. I never thought it was so much to ask hey?

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