His blue mohawk was the first thing that caught my eye. The three punk-looking kids sitting in the entrance of the Avalon Mall food court were causing many mall-goers to take a second glance.
As I stepped through the door, he hopped up, shoved a poster into my hands and yelled, “Wanna go to a punk show?!”
I looked at the roughly photocopied, handmade poster and noticed the time. “1:30 p.m.? Is this ... is this an all-ages show?” I asked incredulously.
It’s been years since I received an invitation to an all-ages show. Upon further research, it seems that the all-ages scene has been quietly existing the whole time, flying under the radar of most legal-aged metal and hardcore fans.
Josh Brown, founder of Get A Life Promotions, doesn’t want to see the all-ages scene burn out or fade away. Get A Life works to bring new bands into the province as well as host
local shows for the underaged metal/hardcore fans. Brown works with Chris Griffiths, who is responsible for handling the media aspect of the booking agency.
“I started it because, as you know, there are very few all-ages shows. Metalfest only comes around once a year and I was thinking, ‘What’s for the kids in between Metalfest?’” Brown said. “I’ve been around the music scene since I was 15 or 16. I didn’t like seeing it decline.”
Josh started listing off popular local bands from six and eight years ago, bringing this journalist back in time with him.
“The scene isn’t quite what it used to be, but it’s getting back up there,” he added.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is when you’re doing shows, a lot of work goes into it. I don’t just say, I’m going to do a show, and throw some bands in there. I sit down and plan it out. It takes me probably two or three weeks to plan everything before I even ask Glen Tizzard (owner of Distortion) if the bar is available,” Brown said. “If it wasn’t for Glen, there would be no more all ages, ’cause there’s nowhere else to do them.”
He added it can be tough attracting some acts to an all-ages venue.
“It’s just a different time in music now. Everyone who was going to all-ages shows back then now have no interest because they go to bar shows. I think that’s a large part of the decline, as well as the fact that it was just the same old bands all the time, or new bands that no one had ever heard of,” Josh said.
“There’s a lot of bar scene bands now that are really good, but they won’t play all-ages shows. Then they complain about how they need to broaden their audience, but when you ask them to play all-ages shows, they’re like, ‘No, none of our friends will come because they drink.’ It’s really a vicious circle. It’s really hard to help bands get their name out when they don’t want to play and they don’t want to help themselves.”
Nathan Russell, the mohawked 16-year-old guitarist of O.D.D. — which stands for Oppositional Defiant Disorder — does everything he can to get his band’s name out into the eyes and ears of the public. Russell spends about three hours a day walking around, handing out posters and flyers promoting upcoming shows.
“You gotta try and find people who look like they would be into it and that’s tough ’cause you don’t always know because, you know, no punker dresses like a punker anymore,” Nathan laughs, pointing at his blue liberty spikes and leather jacket.
“I’ll take any show I get to play or get to go to,” he said. “I’ll go to every single one of them in hopes of finding something good. If I’ve never heard any of the bands, I’ll give it a shot anyway.
“I really want to try to bring back up the punk scene myself, just by getting our band out there, to see if we can get some people going.”
Nathan’s bandmate, Thomas Murray, promotes the hardcore scene with Get A Life Promotions. His enormous stretched earlobes and seemingly unfitting raspy voice makes you think Thomas is years beyond his actual age of 16.
“I’m the only one that does all- ages punk/hardcore shows at Distortion. Otherwise, honestly right now there is absolutely none,” he said. “Even last year there was more people doing all-ages shows than there is now.”
O.D.D. played its first show at Distortion Feb. 9. The band has played three shows since then, including the Battle of The Bands show during the Mount Pearl Frosty Festival. O.D.D. took home the third-place prize, which included $100 and a load of musical goodies from Reid Music. The band hopes to release an EP by the end of March.
Josh says Get A Life also has a few gigs in the making, giving metal fans something to look forward to in 2013, no matter what their age.
Love for music has no age limit.