While the crowd inside was rocking out to energetic bands, three young men loitered on the grungy sidewalk, listening to the dull rumble...
While the crowd inside was rocking out to energetic bands, three young men loitered on the grungy sidewalk, listening to the dull rumble of nearby I-5. These three — members of Fall of Troy — weren’t allowed into the bar until it was time for their band to take the stage, because they weren’t yet 21 years old.
“We sat on that sidewalk for hours waiting to play,” said drummer Andrew Forsman, recalling a gig last year. “After that we made it a point to play all-ages shows.”
After playing together for the past five years, Fall of Troy has graced the majority of Seattle’s under-age spots, including teen centers, coffeehouses and bigger commercial venues.
The number of youth-friendly shows in Seattle has steadily increased since the demise of Seattle’s restrictive Teen Dance Ordinance in 2002. The rules governing such shows became less severe with the current All-Ages Dance Ordinance, and a plethora of new venues are reinvigorating the scene.
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While it is dominated by indie-rock and punk, kids can also get live doses of metal, hip-hop, ska, alternative, rap, jazz and open-mic nights.
There’s also a thriving underground, do-it-yourself movement, including popular house venues like Camp Nowhere in the U District. Even bars that are normally off-limits for under-agers — like Chop Suey and Neumos — are hosting some all-ages shows. Nectar Lounge plans to start an all-ages lineup beginning in late August.
Read on for a look at just a few of the all-ages venues around Seattle.
Fans of all-ages shows are drawn to the metal mecca of Studio Seven. Wedged between warehouses in the industrial section of the downtown area, Studio Seven may be rustic, but what it lacks on the outside it makes up for with great sound, lighting and atmosphere.
Studio Seven’s bar area is located above the main floor with a balcony overlooking the stage. However, the premier seating is reserved for the sober crowd on the main floor. Speakers hanging from chains on the ceiling and the black curtains hanging over the walls emanate a metal, industrial feel — a genre the venue caters to with its stellar lineups of up-and-coming local and national metal bands.
On a typical night, the crowd is small but the energy is high. People thrash to the music, sway and sing along. From tattoos to flip-flops, preteens to 20-somethings, the crowd is diverse but all here for one thing — to listen to the music.
“That’s really what sets the under-age crowd apart from the over-21 crowd,” said Rian Roberson, 21, of the band Violence Unfolds. “They’re all about the music.”
The Vera Project
The Vera Project has been supported by the city of Seattle — and run by a small staff, with help from many volunteers — for almost seven years. Vera offers youth shows almost every day of the week plus classes, such as sound engineering and event production training.
On a recent Friday night, the volunteers and organizers of the Vera Project hosted a night of fashion, music and art in their new Seattle Center location. Colorful photos, interpretative paintings, bright and bizarre clothing and jewelry with G.I. Joes were a few of the artful pieces for sale.
Beck Jessup, 20, of Portland, came out to the event to show her support for the coordinators and local artists, going so far as to wear a giant marshmallow costume from Empire Empire, the fashion company of Avery Bloom, who organized the event. This was Jessup’s first time at the Vera Project.
“My first impression is one of a welcoming, clean and open space,” said Jessup. “And Vera’s reputation for great shows definitely carries through to their new space.”
On a hot Thursday night, the main floor of Capitol Hill’s El Corazon was brimming with sweat-drenched fans. The crowd was composed of mainly mid-to-late teens sporting tattoos, tight pants and festively colored hair.
The venue is smaller than most — only the size of the typical suburban living room and divided from a raised section outfitted to accommodate merchants, seating and a handful of fans. There is a bar, but it is located far off to the side and sectioned off from the main floor.
Chloe Wake, 16, of White Center, comes to El Corazon because she feels that the venue offers more intimacy and interaction with the bands than larger venues. Afterward, she patiently waits for her parents to pick her up. “It gets a little sketchy outside of here at night,” said Wake. “But it’s my favorite venue because you get to be so close to the bands.”
Owner Dana Sims keeps tight control over the popular venue by requiring all the security guards to complete training offered by the Seattle Police Department and the Washington State Liquor Control Board and keeping a watchful eye on the crowd.
“All-ages shows are the life blood of our venue,” said Sims.
Operated by and located next to the Bellevue Boys and Girls Club, this venue is only blocks from Bellevue Square, but its serene surroundings set it apart from the rest of the city.
Alternative, punk and hard-core bands play in the main room and merchant tables adorn a separate adjoining room. Kids, most between the ages of 15-17, mill in and out of the small venue and body heat accumulates quickly.
“[Ground Zero] has this cool intimate feeling because it’s smaller than most venues,” said Julianne Roach, 20, a regular for the past seven years. “Which is great for smaller bands.”
Kirkland Teen Union Building
“Where there are kids, there will be rock,” said Kelly Aiken, music and program specialist of the Kirkland Teen Union Building. The venue doubles as a teen center during the day, offering programs for local youth, and puts on shows featuring under-age bands about twice a week.
Aiken says when booking bands he looks for good attitude and ambition. “Our goal is to be a resource for local youth looking to develop themselves as artists, musicians and people,” said Aiken. “It’s like high school, if high school didn’t suck.”
Danielle Koagel is a 19-year-old journalism student at Western Washington University and graduate of Shorewood High School.