Help save the Warehouse, LaCrosse's historic all-ages music venue

Help save the Warehouse, LaCrosse's historic all-ages music venue

Any successful music scene needs its share of all-ages venues and shows to inspire new generations of bands. Here in the Twin Cities, we know all too well the sting of losing beloved, highly revered all-ages clubs whose history and impact on the local music scene is sadly lost in the name of progress, city planning, or high rent.

In LaCrosse, Wisconsin, the Warehouse has provided the city with stellar all-ages shows from both national and local acts for 22 years now, inspiring and influencing a litany of young aspiring musicians to pick up an instrument and start playing themselves. Sadly, that enduring legacy is in jeopardy, as the Warehouse is scheduled to be sold to developers in the near future. But the good folks at the Warehouse have started an IndieGoGo campaign to help save the venue, with some awesome perks for contributing, as well as the knowledge that you're doing your part to make sure a historic Midwestern venue doesn't get shuttered once and for all.

We asked Casey Virock of Porcupine and Nick Maas of Neon, two talented LaCrosse bands with strong ties to the Warehouse, about what makes the venue so special and definitely worth saving.

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Porcupine's history with the club is a long one, dating back to Virock and Dave Reinders' time in their old '90s band. "Davey and I were in a band called Space Bike which recorded and rehearsed at the Warehouse from 1994-1999," Virock recalls. "The Warehouse was great for bringing in bands on tour that would otherwise pass right by Lacrosse on route from Chicago/ Madison/Milwaukee to Minneapolis or vice-versa. The Melvins, Jesus Lizard, Frank Black and the Catholics, Babes in Toyland, The Descendants, the Meat Puppets, The Dead Milkmen, Everclear...we had the good fortune to open for and experience all of them live thanks to the Warehouse.

Being an all-ages club gives the younger kids the chance to see popular bands, and even open for bands that have inspired them to start playing music. That, to me, is priceless."

And those type of shows had an untold influence on the burgeoning music scene in LaCrosse, with Nick Maas and his teenage bandmates in Neon all getting to see firsthand what a rock show looks and sounds like from bands who wouldn't normally play a small city like LaCrosse if it wasn't for the appeal of the Warehouse.

Help save the Warehouse, LaCrosse's historic all-ages music venue

"What makes the place special for me is that when you walk in, you feel like you're in a venue that you'd find in a bigger city," says Maas. "But the nice thing about the Warehouse is that you don't have to worry about dealing with obnoxious drunks, weird security guards, and crazy camera policies. The great thing about playing there is that you get to play to people who come there specifically to hear music.

You feel like you're playing a real show because people are there to watch you and enjoy the music. When you play at bars, you don't get that same feeling. You're playing to people who mainly want to drink and make requests for stupid songs."

And a lot of the credit for the enduring success and high regard for the Warehouse has to go to owner Steve Harms, who has worked tirelessly to continuously bring in top notch national bands while also wisely pairing them with emerging local bands, a relationship which had clear benefits for everyone involved.

"Steve's always been great and had a really professional rapport with bands," commends Virock. "Along with the Warehouse staff, he would assist in hauling gear and having the backstage area setup for the bands. Steve is working non-stop...and has been that way since I've known him. He doesn't half-ass on anything."

And hopefully, those in the music world who have enjoyed and benefited from the support and mere existence of the Warehouse will help keep the legendary LaCrosse venue up and running for generations to come.

Give to the Warehouse rescue campaign here. The $200,000 goal must be reached by August 22.

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