Underage gig venues proving popular
October 25, 2009
MUSIC venues popping up across Darebin are proving a boon for underage live music fans.
With the bulk of Melbourne’s music scene firmly centred around pubs and clubs, youths are increasingly flocking to shopfronts such as the recently opened El Joyero cafe, on  High St Thornbury, to get their fill of live music.
El Joyero is the third such venue to open in Darebin in the past two years, following High St’s Loophole and Barricade Books in the Melbourne Anarchist Resource Centre on  St Georges Rd, Northcote.
All regularly host all-ages shows where alcohol is not sold and a range of punk, hardcore, rock and folk bands play to crowds that usually average 50 people. Punters say the first thing they notice about the venues is their safe feel and community atmosphere.
“They are a safe space for kids,” said Jem Moloney, 24, whose punk band Fangs of a TV Evangelist has played at all three venues.
“The opportunities to see live music as a kid are nowhere near as common as they should be. So these places are often the first point of contact for live music.”
Moloney said liquor licensing laws made it “impossible” to stage all-ages gigs in pubs, so bands like his sought out venues such as Loophole.
Since 2005, pubs and clubs running events for under-18s must obey stringent conditions. These include removing all visible alcohol and related advertising and writing a safety plan outlining how young people will get home safely.
The events must end by 10pm and over-18s cannot attend.
Liquor Licensing spokeswoman Natalie Staaks said conditions were imposed after a series of violent incidents to “ensure young people can attend such functions and have a safe and enjoyable experience in licensed premises”.
Loophole caretaker Katie Pace said a collective of artists, musicians, anarchists and students opened the “explicitly not-for-profit space” in 2007, which now hosted all-ages shows most weekends. “We’re getting requests from (all-ages gig) organisers from interstate, even New Zealand.
“They say how thankful they are … it’s hard for them to find somewhere to put on all-ages shows.”
“So far there hasn’t been any dramas with the police, the gigs end by midnight … but if the neighbours said this is a problem, we would have to respect that.”
Northcote Sen-Sgt Michael Reeves said he was not aware of complaints relating to noise, street drinking or anti-social behaviour outside any of the venues.
But he said: “We would like the organisers to let us know (so we can) provide a patrol, for parents’ peace of mind … just to drive round and make sure everybody’s OK and neighbours aren’t being affected.
“Underage drinking is always a possibility where young people gather (and) that’s one of the things we would be mindful of if we patrolled.”
Brunswick’s Liam Osborne, who started going to all-ages gigs at Loophole when he was 16, said the shows “stopped me having to go to pubs and get turned away”.
While he had just turned 18, he still preferred their laid-back communal atmosphere over pubs.
“They’re just two different vibes,” he said. “All-ages shopfront community venues have a community feel. The band plays on the floor and there’s not an emphasis on alcohol sales as opposed to pub shows.”
El Joyero officially opened this weekend. Loophole is currently re-locating (from 834A) to 670 High Street — Barricade Books is also expected to re-locate to the new space at Loophole very soon. The Melbourne Anarchist Resource Centre is having an ‘Open Day’ on Saturday, November 28.