By Alex Tebeleff
I think this is a good time talk a little about a really important subject when it comes to live music: all-ages shows. The reality with age limits is that it’s a form of discrimination that is justified only for financial reasons by those who put on the limitation. If there is any city that showed how easy it is to just put big black X’s on a kid’s hand, it’s DC, and I feel a great amount of gratitude to those in the DC music community over the past 3 ½ decades who brought attention to this issue, among other important and overlooked social issues.
It’s reasonable to understand why a club would make a show 21+; most clubs and bars obviously make the vast majority of their profit from alcohol, and this isn’t changing any time soon. There are also really unfair laws that punish the club in ridiculously harsh ways if a kid under 21 is caught with a drink, even if the club has done everything expected of them. I understand that risk is serious. I’ve watched as a lot of the all-ages venues across the country have shut down recently, and experienced some pretty awful and awkward attempts at integrating “all-ages sections” in venues that also sold alcohol (in cities like Seattle) that have reactionary laws on this matter.
While I do see reasonable points on both sides on this issue, in the end I always end up on the side that promotes a more open community, and all ages shows do it in a very important way. Live music in your teenage years can have a massive and permanent positive impact. Besides this point, age discrimination is just as unethical as any other form of discrimination. Obviously, there are some shows that a parent might not want their child going to, but that should be up to them to decide. Let the parents be parents and decide what they want for their kid.
For what should be obvious reasons at this point, I’ll continue to focus this column on mostly all ages shows, with exceptions for shows that I think have a significant impact culturally or creatively for the community, but I’ll do my best to try to focus the spotlight in particular on all-ages shows. This might all come across as preachy, but I really don’t give a shit. I think it’s important.
More than anything else, this subject brings up yet another reason it’s essential for a vibrant musical scene to have DIY shows at houses, art spaces, and other alternative venues. It allows for a safe and respectful space for people under-21 to experience live music. I’m also writing a guide on house shows for BYT as well this week, and I want to recommend a book for anyone interested in this topic, especially to those thinking of hosting a show at their home. It’s called “In Every Town: An All-Ages Music Manualfesto,” by Shannon Stewart. The book is a project made with the All-
Ages Movement Project, which I also recommend you look into. Thanks to Mark Anderson and Positive Force for bringing this book to my attention.
Tuesday, March 25
The influx of Americana and old-time styles of music put into a more contemporary sounding aesthetic has become surprisingly prevalent in DC over the past couple years. Tumbling Bones falls pretty clearly into the category of Americana, with influences from various forms of traditional American music, albeit with a more polished production style. I haven’t seen them live yet, but this early show at a new house venue in Northeast DC looks like an interesting bet if you are into this kind of music.
Wednesday, March 26
When they say over by 10PM, they mean it. This music is loud! If you haven’t seen Chris Moore drum before, I would highly suggest getting over to this show for Sick Fix. They are definitely one of my favorite DC Hardcore bands. Permanent Ruin sounds supremely heavy enough to hang with Sick Fix, and Citadel is a new band featuring plenty of musicians from great equally heavy bands. Hardcore is alive and well at this show.
Thursday, March 27
Great garage punk bill at a great record store.
Friday, March 28
This is a charity show at a GWU fraternity, with two really fun DC bands and So Many Dynamos from St. Louis. Being that I have an irrational love of St. Louis from my time on tour, I’m going to vote yes on this one. Plus, So Many Dynamos has some great grooves and sounds, I would imagine this would be a particularly fun band to see live.
Buildings is a band that has had a big impact on the DC music scene for years now, and this show marks their return to the city since a move to NYC. Clearly influenced by a really diverse palate of music, they are a really stimulating band to see live. Other Colors is one of my personal favorite bands from Baltimore right now. Big Hush is easily one of my favorite bands from DC, they make beautiful shoegazed-folk that’s really well written, with Howling Void rounding out the bill with a set of droning music that suits his name quite well. This is a really great bill.
Record store CD Cellar keeps on putting on great shows in Arlington. I love BRNDA, and from the sound of their recordings, Dudes and Blizzard Babies are a pretty perfect match.
Well, well, well, if it isn’t The Cherch. This was one of my favorite house venues in DC, one that was a great influence in making me want to start doing shows at my own house. I have no idea who is involved now, but I’m glad to see it back. This is a decidedly different aesthetic from the more progressive and alternative sounds I remember from seeing shows there, with folk and blues being the order of this particular evening.
Saturday, March 29
Another show featuring music made in the mold of traditional American musical forms. The Fresh Prince has been picking up some pretty quality shows recently, definitely worth your time.
I’m really excited to be a part of this bill. Not only because it’s the first time I’ll get the chance to play 6th and I Synagogue, but once again some kids from GWU steps up to put an interesting show to the table this week. This time its college radio station WRGW. As a member of the DC music scene, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have the support of local college radio behind our music! They are really energized and organized; it’s great to see what WRGW for DC music is doing right now.
DJ’s, visual and performance art, and “interactive sensory experiences” at a church converted into an art space. What a solid creative use of a space! They are probably correct in describing this as a “unique party.” and I Synagogue, but once again some kids from GWU steps
Big surprise, yet another strong bill at Comet Ping Pong. The Caribbean consistently do beautiful things with guitars, Baltimore’s Early American play heavy stoner rock grooves with a strong debt to shoegaze, and The Jet Age make really catchy straight-up power-pop.
Sunday, March 30
Harness Flux brings to mind a lot of my favorite bands growing up, like Sonic Youth and Pavement, and it sounds like a very honest appropriation of that feel and aesthetic with some good tunes to boot. Nice Breeze fits perfectly on this bill. There’s a certain “laziness” to the way these bands sound that makes me smile.