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The Rockford Files: Top 5 all-ages venues in the South Sound

Thanks to these venues, the kids are alright

TACOMA TEA ROOM: The space behind urbanXchange has been remodeled as a tea room with live music.

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Speaking from experience, there's nothing more frustrating than being barred from seeing a favorite local band due to that pesky little "21+" fine print at the bottom of the flyer. As if being of legal drinking age has some sort of positive correlation with music appreciation. Yes, I realize that alcohol generates the majority of money coming into many venues, and state law requires all open containers of alcohol to be kept ... BLAH BLAH BLAH. An entire group of people is being prevented from attending shows at some of the most popular places for bands to frequent.

Fortunately, South Sound youth are blessed with a fair selection of venues that cater to this frustration. All-ages venues have been slowly but surely gaining momentum in the South Sound, and are hosting underage shows weekly. And better yet, these shows are put on with music being the sole purpose. This generally guarantees a much more engaging, higher quality show - as opposed to a mediocre cover band providing background noise for people to socialize with drinks. The following is a list of five all-ages venues currently at the forefront of making live music accessible to minors.


Contest-ably the hippest venue this side of the Mississippi, Northern is host to some of the most revered local bands as well as being a favorite destination for touring acts. Founded by The Olympia All-Ages Project in 2009, its been making live music accessible to Olympia's youth since its start. With recent visits from LAKE, R. Stevie Moore, Survival Knife, Hot Tears and Visiting Nurses, Northern never seems to be lacking in shows to write home about. 414 1/2 Legion Way, Olympia

Louie G's Pizzeria

If any all-ages venue in the South Sound can earn a spot on this list based solely on the professionalism of its stage, Louie G's Pizzeria is it. Sporting professional lights, a drum riser, and likely the best sound in the area, Louie G's Pizzeria in Fife has become a premiere venue for young bands. Several bands featured in my column - including THE FAME RIOT, Innocent Bystander and Cell Phone Parking Lot - have performed before the pizza-eating crowd. 5219 Pacific Hwy. E., Fife

Tacoma Tea Room

The ever-evolving Tacoma Tea Room - formerly The Den and Tahoma Tea & Company - has now fine-tuned the back of UrbanXchange into something special. Now hosting an open mic every Wednesday night from 6:30 to 10 p.m., as well as putting on shows featuring local bands, Tahoma Tea Room is becoming a hot spot of downtown Tacoma. The third time really is a charm. 1932 Pacific Ave., Tacoma

The Live Room

Another venue featuring very professional sound and one of the best stages in our area, The Live Room has quickly developed a great rapport among young band and music fans. Though located somewhat out-of-the-way, this Sumner venue is definitely worth the trip. I hope to see The Live Room become a vital part of the all-ages movement in the South Sound. 13704 24th St. E., Sumner

The Red Room

A favorite of the all-ages metal and punk scene in Tacoma since 2010, there's not too much to say about this straightforward venue other than it's an excellent mainstay of the local music scene. Never lacking a full show schedule, The Red Room can always be found harboring a large crowd of teen-agers along an otherwise uneventful part of Tacoma Avenue.

Underage concertgoers in the South Sound need not worry - with these five all-ages venues in full operation - and hopefully more to come - weekend plans are not hard to come by. Check show schedules regularly, leave your fake ID at home, and enjoy the great music the South Sound has to offer young music connoisseurs.

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