Essay As an under-21 punk, I’ve had to consider standing outside the front door of the Patio in Broad Ripple to hear The Slurs play, or wonder how hard it would be to get over the fence behind the Melody Inn. Especially with another all-ages venue having closed on Oct. 8, a Westside skate park called ISC (the Indiana Sk8 Company), the all-ages scene is looking grim. There have been shows without real venues in places as extreme as an alley — the site of an infamous Unseen/Defiance show with Wasteland DC and BYD on July 27, which ended with the police showing up — all because sometimes there’s nowhere else to go.
The problem is, that show was supposed to be at Nag Champa, a cafe in Fountain Square, but nobody showed up to open the venue (Editor’s note: Nag Champa is now closed). They made a habit of that and did not follow through on a single show, and usually didn’t even give notice when the shows were cancelled. With a guaranteed pay for the Unseen and Defiance, something had to happen, so the show ended up between a house and garage in Fountain Square until seven cop cars appeared and the show was called off before Defiance could finish or Wasteland DC could even start.
During the summer, a local rap group, Dark Tower Asylum, had a show in a rented-out area of a state park in Louisville, Ky., (with very little local support, that’s how far they had to go to get a gig) that turned out even worse: The show was over and the 350 people were packing up to leave when a police helicopter showed up with reinforcements in cars. The police threatened to arrest anyone who was still there when the helicopter landed. The promoter was arrested and one of the members of the group Toxic dove into the first open car window he saw and managed to get away.
As fun as it might be to run from the cops and find the hidden new spot where the show is this week, it gets old. But just as old venues disappear, new ones come to light — like the Tin House, a literal tin house in the backyard of Bill Levin’s house, the dodgeball playing former manager of the band GWAR. Quite a few of the shows there are not all-ages though, sometimes starting as late — or early — as 3 in the morning, and in general, it closes to kids at 11 to get ready for the over-21 crowd to show up at midnight. Of course, there’s also the Emerson and other well-known venues, but even the Emerson, a former theater on 10th Street known for being all-ages, occasionally has over 21 shows, like a 7 Degrees from Center show on a recent weekend. After about 10 years of shows, though, they can get away with some 21 and over.
Another venue open to all ages is The House, a cafe with a stage in a separate room, located in the front of Glendale Mall. The House was one of the venues for the Midwest Music Summit this summer. If you want to go underground, there’s also Jon the Con’s, which is literally a garage on Richie Avenue on the Westside. As it is at someone’s house, though, shows are sometimes almost constant and sometimes there are almost none, and the music selection is usually limited to hardcore and grind.
A new project may be on the way soon with a nearly forgotten idea of unity at the foundation, and which might eventually lead to a venue. Toxic has ideas for a project called the Underground Alliance, with a show every week and a monthly showcase which doesn’t just have one type of music, but combines them — a punk band, for example, then maybe rap. He doesn’t have a venue yet so when it starts, he’s planning on renting out the Patio, but doesn’t want to just use a bar. With some luck (and maybe some radio sponsorship) the Underground Alliance will eventually have its own venue — and of course, it will be all-ages.
Jinn Kaufman is a junior at University High School.