Olympia All Ages Project

Mecca Normal headlines an all-ages show Tuesday night

By Lauren Napier on April 2, 2009

Music is a powerful medium: it expresses different ideas and collective cultural identities. Music can be comforting or confusing. Music, as an entity, can be housed in conventional venues, people’s basements, or in school rooms. Thus, it makes sense that the Olympia All Ages Project is hosting a show with the intellectual and musically bold Mecca Normal.

The Olympia All Ages Project, founded by Mariella Luz, was created after Luz grew weary of her own complaint that “there hadn’t been anywhere in Olympia for a while that was just a dedicated all-ages music venue.” Complaining about the lack of opportunity for the youth was not helping anyone, but becoming proactive and starting the project was the first step.

The idea materialized halfway through 2008. The Olympia All Ages Project is volunteer supported and operated and rents various spaces to house shows, though a space dedicated to the project will be opening in Olympia on Fourth Avenue — sooner rather than later.

Luz doesn’t put on these shows in order to entertain her friends, because, in her own words, she’s “almost 30 … and just knows they should happen.” There should be a “space where people (can) go to shows regularly,” says Luz.

“Olympia has this long amazing music history that centers around all-ages shows, and if there isn’t anyone in town that can help put on these shows, there’s nowhere for them to happen.”

According to Luz, the Olympia All Ages Music Project puts on “four to seven shows a month.” Tuesday, April 7 Mecca Normal will be the Project’s guest of honor, playing a show at Bike n’ Bike, which is in the Dumpster Values building. After 25 years of inspiring members of the Riot Grrrl community with their aggressive female-fronted, unconventional approach to punk, Mecca Normal is still on top of the game. The seminal band’s latest ambitious venture is 24 shows in 24 days — and not just shows but lectures, art exhibits and performance art too, titled “How Art and Music Can Change the World.” It’s an outside-the-box venture for an outside-the-box band.

Mecca Normal uses their musical pedestal to, as Jean Smith, the front woman of the band says, “try to inspire our audiences to consider adding political content to their own creative self-expression.” (In an apathetic and passive society where change is viewed as negative and inconvenient, it is often difficult to persuade the audience that there is value in positive progress, and that connection begins with awareness: a metacognitive approach to one’s passion.)

Viewing the all-ages scene as a necessity, Smith feels that it is “absurd to think that (under the age of 21) is the time when you are most interested in exploring cultural offerings, and that’s when they limit the access to events because it is based in the selling of alcohol.”

Maybe it is time to explore and offer your own creative energy to the world. Maybe it is time you started listening to those encouraging positive change around you. Maybe it is time you came to reflect upon the musical messages of Mecca Normal.

[Bike ‘n’ Bike, Mecca Normal, Broken Water, Wisdom Teef, April 7, 8 p.m., all ages, $5, 302 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia, www.olympiaallages.org]