BEST ALL-AGES VENUE Minneapolis 2005 - The Garage
There are clubs with all-ages nights, and teen centers with age restrictions (for a full list of both, visit complicatedfun.com/allages). But the Garage is all-ages, all the time. Opened in 1999 by Eric Billiet, with help from the city of Burnsville, the suburban rock and hip-hop mecca has created a scene all its own in Alexander O'Neal's longtime backyard, with a staff of youth volunteers working in cooperation with adults to create an atmosphere that's safe, tolerant, and fun. Local bands such as the Soviettes, A-Bomb Nation, and All the Pretty Horses have tapped the gleeful vibe there, and the venue has helped such youthful bands as Dropping Daylight (formerly Sui Generis) and SMB (formerly Screaming Monkey Boner) launch national touring careers. The cafeteria-sized space also has great sound (from donated equipment) as well as adjoining rooms complete with vending machines, video games, and places to lounge. The Garage is used on weekdays for programs ranging from kickboxing to prayer groups, but it's the Friday and Saturday night shows that kids will remember years from now.