In a world of governmental uncertainty and a probably a possible alien invasion, one thing is for certain, all ages shows can be really fun. In the past week I’ve been to two all ages shows. My friend (and fellow writer) Joel and I made the trek to Montevallo (cool little town, by the way) for Dent May and Dead Gaze, and we also went to the Local Natives and Wild Nothing show at Iron City. Both all ages. Both very energetic.
Dent May’s brand of bizzaro pop music won the small but fun crowd over at the Eclipse Coffee and Books in Montevallo. The “kids” were really into it. Dancing and singing along, there was a vibe in the room that made you feel young and cool again. Joel and I instantly noticed the age of most of the crowd, but a few songs into Dent’s set, it didn’t even matter. Everyone felt good. Everyone was moving.
The show at Iron City was the same way. Young faces, tons of those big black “X” marks on young hands, unbelievably easy access to the bars, and an overall sense of youth and whimsy. Local Natives played an hour and a half set that would blow anyone’s mind but in a non-sellout, all ages crowd, there was a fervor amongst the crowd. More dancing and swaying and moving, there was even a girl behind us who was absolutely ecstatic about this band and was screaming her lungs out for more, even before the
encore. People in the crowd really cared about the music. They treated it like a major concert. Like it was only the first or second time they’d ever been to a show like that.
Although possibly annoying to the older lot, all ages shows are great for a high energy/fun atmosphere and really make a statement to the bands like “Hey, we go hard in Birmingham. Tell your friends”. I truly think there is something to that. The tour managers, the promoters, the labels, they should all hopefully pay attention to the band in this case. If the band comes back from tour and says, “The crowd was awesome in Birmingham” doesn’t it make sense that they would come back here? Or maybe other bands they are friends with will play here? Packed out, high energy, all ages shows are good advertising for our city. Kind of like screaming when the opponent’s offense is on the field, the defense gets psyched and plays better, and the game becomes more fun (Yall like that football reference?).
The smaller clubs probably feel the pressure to sell more booze and that’s fair because you do lose that when you have an all ages show. But I’ve been to really smaller 21 and up shows where everyone was standing around with their arms crossed, having maybe one or two beers, instead getting into the music and acting like it’s the first time they’d seen live music. It can be annoying to deal with the younger show-goers but it really helps make a better atmosphere and give us an opportunity to show people that we can bring a crowd, even if half of them never saw an actual first-run episode of “Saved by the Bell” while it was on television.