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Viaduct viable in Tacoma

New all-ages rock club to open Friday if inspectors give OK

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Once upon a time, a few years ago, there was an all-ages club run by Brian Skiffington and Rachel Keenan called the Frameshop in a suburb of Tacoma called Midland. About a year and few neighborhood complaints later, it closed down.

Across town in University Place there was an all-ages club called The Hall run by Josh Brumley and Cody Curley that held shows in a VFW hall. Its story ended in much the same way.

Brumley and Curley started temporarily booking shows at Bob’s Java Jive, a slowly fading light on the Tacoma nightclub landscape that desperately needed the business despite its international-landmark status. Incidents of vandalism and the theft of their beloved karaoke machine left the Jive feeling less than groovy about its new patrons. Brumley and Curley felt that a few bad apples should not be allowed to ruin the fun for the rest of them, so they continued the search for a new all-ages home. They found it in an abandoned garage down the street from Jive on South Tacoma Way. They gave it the apropos name, “The Junkyard,” and young hardcore and indie fans showed up in droves. The new club became such a hotspot that newspapers began writing about it. That’s when it appeared on the fire marshal’s radar. The club was inspected, found wanting and promptly closed down for code infractions. I think the words “death trap” were mentioned.

Frustrated, but sure that they had a viable business if only they could find the appropriate space, Brumley and his friend Zack Ellis started renting spaces in Seattle and booking shows up there. Skiffington (of The Frameshop) knew Brumley through mutual friends, and he had even booked a couple of shows at The Hall and Junkyard. It was Skiffington’s roommate, Casey Sizer that came up with the idea of the two factions joining forces to open a venue together. Knowing that it really does take a village to operate an all-ages club, the guys agreed and rededicated themselves to the search for the perfect location.

“They are people we know through music,” says Skiffington. “Our bands have played shows with their bands. We definitely have a lot in common. We are die-hard advocates of Tacoma.”

When Ellis and Brumley met Skiffington

The new team Ellis, Brumley and Skiffington posted an ad on Craig’s List looking for a venue. The owner of a space in the Nalley Valley answered the ad and promised to bring the building up to code for them. They named the new club Viaduct after the Nalley Valley Viaduct that is just a few blocks away. It is undergoing a massive transformation now.

They approximate that the venue’s occupancy will be around 200 people. There will be no chairs and no stage. Skiffington said insurance rates for venues with stages are higher due to stage diving liability issues. Bromley added that a stage wouldn’t work very well in the space anyway because of the low ceiling.

“We put in a second bathroom, an office, redid all the electrical, put in new plumbing and a handicap ramp,” explains Skiffington. “This is the biggest project I’ve ever done. Well, we’ve hired people to do that, we didn’t actually do it ourselves. We have the benefit of a landlord that is very willing to work with us and do the construction to bring it up to code.”

The Viaduct indie rock club will be patterned loosely after an all-ages club called the 924 Gilman Street Project in Berkley and The Vera Project in Seattle. Attendees will be issued membership cards, therefore allowing the city to consider it a private club, which helps a bit with the red tape. Cover charge will usually be $5 or $6. Skiffington said there are already 40 shows booked all the way into October. The Viaduct will open Friday if code inspectors give the thumbs up.

In other all-ages news

Team Unicorn Records ( is booking all-ages shows every fourth Saturday at Bob’s Java Jive and two other new all-ages clubs, Club Alano and Stereo Lounge, will be opening in Tacoma soon.

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