The Garage: Run by young people for young people
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Since The Garage opened in 1999, it has transformed from a coffee shop to a full venue that hosts today's up-and-coming artists as well as its share of national acts. Station 4 used to host many punk and metal shows in the past, but since it closed in 2013, the punk scene has moved about 20 minutes south to Burnsville.
"It's cool to be that epicenter of a lot of things as bands either get their start here or tour through this way and work themselves up to First Avenue. It's pretty interesting," said the Garage's venue manager, Jack Kolb-Williams.
See also: Station 4 can be yours for $1.2 million
Over the past two years, the Garage has posted great attendance numbers and booked more artists. The number of attendees is on the rise again. The Garage took a dip in 2012 with 7,600 people walking through the doors after a record-breaking year in 2011 with 22,000 attendees. In 2013, the venue reached 18,600 concert-goers, while it has already reached about 12,000 this year.
"2011 was the highest recorded year we've ever had. My hope is to break that this year. I think we will be close," Williams said.
The venue brings in 8 to 10 different artists a month. Since Station 4 closed, there hasn't been a significant increase in the number of shows hosted. However, the venue was significantly updated. A larger stage was added, as well as more lighting and professional equipment.
"Rather than being maybe a couple lights in the ceiling and a couple speakers on some stands, we've really stepped up our game on what were able to offer, which then allows us to bring in higher quality acts and higher caliber acts," Williams said.
The Garage has gathered a list of larger acts including Hawthorne Heights, Touché Amore, Set It off, and other punk bands you would most likely find on the Vans Warped Tour lineup.
Williams noted one of his favorite performances was by California band the Story So Far. "That show was probably one of the most insane and exhilarating nights I think I've ever had with managing this place," he said.
Local band Motion City Soundtrack played the first installment of the venue's secret show series, which is a way Williams and the rest of the staff are working to get more local artists.
"We never thought in a million years that [Motion City Soundtrack] would want to come play at our place. We were all just so blown away. It was just so fun," Williams said.
The second secret show sold tickets for only one dollar and featured local hippy hop artist Mod Sun. The rapper played two sold-out shows on Thursday, June 18, and brought over 1,000 attendees. Another way the venue is looking to improve the artists' experience is by offering video shoots of the entire show, which are recorded by their own videographer Rico Roman and Burnsville Community Television. Local indie band Bomba De Luz was the first band to record their live performance.
"The video crew was not in our way at all and we got great footage out of it," bassist Gavin Taylor said. "The sound on stage was prime and clear, and the audience was very responsive."
Although the Garage has increased in numbers and quality, the culture of the all-ages venue has stayed the same. Everyone running the venue is under 30 years old. "It is run by young people for young people," Williams said. The booking staff is either in high school or college; people under 24 years old run the sound and lights.
"[The Garage] is a good place to get your feet wet as a performer and an audience member," Taylor said. "Overall, the feeling of the Garage is variable to the crowd [and] music. The culture is in the control of the kids and teens of all ages and backgrounds who feed the place with creativity."
Even though young adults run the venue, no one is excluded. "Everyone is welcome no matter age, sexual orientation, sexual preference, or any situation where people could feel discriminated against," Williams said.
"That is something that this organization has really taken a firm stance on. We just really want to include anyone and everyone that has the opportunity to come," he adds.
However, there are positives and negatives in regards to the location. Burnsville is located 20 minutes south of the Twin Cities, so there is a longer drive involved with seeing a show at the Garage than area music fans are accustomed to. But one of the biggest positives about the Garage is their close working relationship with the city of Burnsville. Because the venue is involved with the city, it allows the club to open their doors to anyone who wants the chance to take the stage.
"We will give you the opportunity. We never turn people away. Because if you do, how is everyone going to get that one chance they would otherwise not have to be a performer," Williams said.
There is currently no plan to move the venue as it expands, but there are plans to keep growing by bringing in more acts and more people.
"We just hope people can see what this place does for the greater Twin Cities music scene and the artistic scene in general," Williams said. "Take advantage of it. Come check it out. It's pretty cool. We're very proud of it."
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