Sonic Youth

Nonprofit teen centers fill the club void for minors

"When you don't have a car, it's really hard to get around and go see shows, especially if you're a music fan," says Zeus. "But after I found out about this place when I was a senior, I came here and volunteered, and started helping out around here and booking bands and stuff."

Spurred by the Garage's adult founder, Eric Billiet, Zeus and other students transformed the space into a real club, albeit a nonprofit one (none of the bands are paid, and most of the equipment is donated). Now bands hoping to build their all-ages fan base show up with merch to sell, and many young groups can say they got their start here--the aforementioned SMB, Down and Above, and Skywynd for starters. Diverse acts such as P.O.S., Less Spoken, and Invasive Species might say the same of the Depot--a similarly city-funded, youth-staffed club run out of a converted train station in Hopkins.

"There's starting to be a circuit of places that up-and-coming bands can play," says Brad Eller, an adult supervisor at the Enigma Teen Center in Shakopee, which is overseen by the city's parks department. "I would say there have been over 80 bands here that have played since May, when we opened this year."

Jayme Halbritter

The emerging model for the all-ages club seems to be the youth community nonprofit organization--an entity with a board of directors and staff made up mostly of young people. At the Twin Cities Underground, the Depot, and the Garage, you'll see kids working the door, sound, and security. "It's kids policing kids," says Zeus.

As you might expect, youthful enthusiasm can sometimes power past adult concerns for persons or property. "We wanted to come in on burning parachutes," says 16-year-old Andy Myers, drummer for the Wayzata funk-hardcore band Hott Lixxx, who does sound at the Depot. "We wanted to play underwater."

But rocking is an education, sometimes an unexpected one. "Even though the positions are voluntary, it's really about them having responsibilities, and seeing them rise to those challenges," says the Depot's youth supervisor, Vidya Rao, 22. "We've had a couple students who maybe weren't doing so well in school, but we got them on the board and all of a sudden you see them doing amazing things."

Cops are a regular and welcomed presence at these venues, which are permitted to define curfews loosely. Anyway, it's tough to stir up a teenage riot without wheels. Back at the Garage, I find yet another junior high student shivering on a park bench outside.

"I meet a lot of people here," says Trevor Ranlow. "The bands are usually good, and sometimes they pass out demos, which makes it better, so you can remember what bands played what."

And what is he doing out here in the cold? Taking a smoke break? Meeting a girlfriend?

"I'm waiting for my mom," he says. Soon, he climbs into his parents' van, and is on his way home.

Find more photos of Garage nightlife by Jayme Clifton Halbritter at Peter S. Scholtes' blog Complicated Fun.


Rock Of All-Ages


If you're under 18 and looking for a place to see live music or DJs, here's your short list of venues and resources. For a complete list, visit the all-ages club page at


Club 3 Degrees (Minneapolis) Last year, this Christian music mecca (you'll pardon the phrase) relocated from Central Avenue to the den of sin--the Minneapolis Warehouse District, across from the Quest. With hip hop, metal, national, and local music, the lineup remains diverse. 113 N.
Fifth St., Minneapolis,; 612.781.8488. www.club3degrees.comALL-AGES


The scene page at Like the Twin Cities Alternative Shows List (see below), D.U. Nation offers a useful current calendar of shows, with age restrictions included--but this one is all about the hip hop. Indispensable. ALL-AGES


The Depot Coffee House (Hopkins) This converted train station in Hopkins has been a teen center since 1998, hosting Friday night concerts (rock, hip hop, whatever) reserved for ages 14 to 18. A CD featuring the local bands that play there (Rude Awakening, New Renaissance, Help Wanted, and Emu) is available for $10 at the space. 9451 Excelsior Blvd., Hopkins; 952.938.2204. AGES 14-18


The Dinkytowner (Minneapolis) Named "Best All-Ages Venue" in 2002 by City Pages on the strength of its great Sunday evenings alone, this basement club with pool tables books everything from hip hop to avant-garde noise. 412 1/2 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612.362.0427. SUNDAYS, ALL-AGES


District 202 (Minneapolis) This gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender youth center features 21-and-under dance nights every Saturday, as well as many other all-ages music events that are open to the public. 1601 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis 612.871.5559. 21 AND UNDER, SOMETIMES ALL-AGES


Enigma Teen Center (Shakopee) Overseen by the park and recreation board of Shakopee, this teen-run club, which opened in May 2004, puts on shows every weekend, with no age restrictions. 1255 Fuller St. S. Shakopee; 952.233.3828. ALL-AGES


The Fallout Urban Art Center (Minneapolis) Launched in 2001, this youth center-cum-art space fills the old Coffee Shock niche: It's sponsored by Source MN, Inc., a "faith-based" nonprofit organization, but features plenty of secular all-ages emo/punk/metal shows that don't force their religion onto bands or audiences. 2609 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.462.3873. ALL-AGES

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