The underage struggle

by Ellen Rex

I love music. I love when I can feel the beat in my heart and feel as if the lead singer is singing just for me. I love music that’s so loud my ears start ringing. I love walking out of a concert and having to scream at the top of my lungs to the person next to me because we both temporarily lost the ability to hear.

During winter break, I realized that to go to most of these wonderful concerts you have to be 21 years old. So, for those of us born just a few years too late, there are very limited opportunities to experience those cherished feelings. No heart-stopping, mind-numbing, soul-wrenching live music for me.

While I understand that venues such as Belly Up and The Casbah can make more money from fans that can buy alcohol, they’re in turn excluding a huge number of potential customers and die-hard fans. I wouldn’t mind if they charged extra for those under 21, as long as I could go.  I would also understand if they didn’t let anyone under 18 attend—some concerts can get pretty rowdy—but for fans that are over 18, these restrictions seem a bit silly. I just want to see Bombay Bicycle Club in concert, not get drunk.

For those poor young souls like myself, there are select music venues in the San Diego area that don’t discriminate.  The House of Blues, for one, does often allow fans under 21 to attend their events, depending on which stage it’s on or who’s performing. I recently went there for a concert featuring American Authors, The Royal Concept, and MisterWives, and it was the epitome of amazing live music. The stage was small, the venue was intimate, and the sound was top-notch.  Although a few smaller venues such as Soma and The Irenic also make some shows available to fans under 21, they don’t have as much variety as the larger House of Blues. Broke Girls Coffee Bar also occasionally hosts events for smaller, usually local bands and even open-mic nights where you might get the chance to hear some great undiscovered artists. Despite how frustrating it is to see that Marc Broussard or Delta Rae are playing at a 21-and-over, it’s comforting to see that there are still a few venues out there catering to the younger music lovers. Luckily, these venues still host some great bands such as St. Vincent, London Grammar and Taking Back Sunday, all of which will be at the House of Blues in March for underage enjoyment.

For the blessed 21-and-older generation, there are plenty of amazing venues that will cater to your needs, of which I, for the next few years at least, am incredibly jealous.  In the San Diego area, The Casbah, Belly Up, and Soda Bar seem to have the most shows available, as well as the widest variety of music, even though most still lean toward indie rock and folk. Bombay Bicycle Club and Mogwai will both perform at Belly Up in April. Those of you who don’t go, you will officially be musically shunned. Dum Dum Girls, Wakey! Wakey!, and Jillette Johnson will all be at The Casbah in March. For the sake of your instrumental souls, please attend these shows and tell me about them so I can live vicariously through you.

At 19, I think the most painful part of this musical predicament is the fact that I’m so close, yet so far, from being able to go to all of these fantastic concerts. When you turn 18, there’s this sense of freedom and privilege because you assume that by being an adult, you can finally do anything and everything you’ve always wanted to do.  You can finally get a tattoo without parental consent, live on your own and go to concerts whenever you want.  Except that, after you’ve gotten your hopes up, you realize that you can’t actually do a lot of these things until you are 21, even if you aren’t necessarily looking to drink. Sadly, Wakey! Wakey!, Delta Rae and Jillette Johnson will have to wait.