Punk's not dead.
The fringe genre has survived many cycles since the `70s and has found an audience in the youth of today. Through the years, all-ages shows have been integral in keeping punk alive.
The Outhouse outside of Lawrence was a pillar for the local punk scene throughout the `80s and early `90s, and The Daily Grind and Rhumba Box in Kansas City were strong in the mid `90s.
Each venue booked all-ages shows exclusively and each venue has shut down.
Thus, it has become increasingly difficult for the under-21 punk-rock audience to find an outlet for their music. Gator's in Topeka and The Bottleneck in Lawrence are the only strong area venues that make a serious effort to book all-ages shows.
Josh Hunt, booking agent for Avalanche Productions and organizer for tonight's Poopfest `98 at The Bottleneck, 737 N.H., said it is difficult for all-ages venues to stay running because of money and upset neighbors.
``It's hard for an all-ages place to break even because there's no selling beer and no making money at the bar,'' Hunt said. ``You've still got to make rent, pay bills, pay the bands and (pay) for the PA. This translates to higher ticket prices, which no one wants to pay.
Poopfest `98, a nine-hour extravaganza with 12 bands, will be open to fans of all ages. Bill Thrower, singer for Derailer, one of the bands scheduled to perform, loves to play all-ages shows.
``The people that see you at the bar see you because they're out drinking anyway,'' Thrower said. ``But at an all-ages show, people can range from 13 to 30 and they're there for the music. It's more fun and the kids go nuts.''
Thrower is especially excited about playing Poopfest `98.
``People should come check it out,'' Thrower said. ``It's a medley of what's really going on in this town. All the bands involved just want to play music. That's all that counts.''
Brian Gee, lead singer and guitarist for the Bubble Boys, says there aren't enough opportunities for the local younger crowd to see bands.
``There's not that many all-ages clubs around here,'' Gee said. ``They all closed down. One of the main reasons a lot of those places get a lot of heat is because most of the kids there are 12 to 16 years old and their parents probably aren't digging these places.
``For the most part, though, they're just hanging out with their friends, seeing bands and music that they all enjoy. I think that's healthy.''
Hunt agrees and sees the punk-rock environment as a means of keeping youth out of trouble. Focusing on music, no matter what kind, is a constructive direction to be heading in and should not be discouraged, he said.
``Obviously, there are some parents out there that don't want their kids going out at all,'' Hunt said. ``They're afraid they're going out to do drugs or have sex. What they don't realize is their kids are actually showing an interest in something. When kids get bored, that's when they get into trouble.''
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