Traditionally speaking, the most popular music venues in the South Sound are bars. Most Tacoma bands worth their salt aspire to appear in long standing booze-pouring hot spots such as The Swiss, Brotherhood Lounge, Jazzbones and the former Hell's Kitchen. Even with clubs opening up to all-ages until 8 or 10 p.m., younger audiences still miss out on great bands. I've resorted to listening to a bar show from an adjacent business, where the music was scarcely audible. Sad.
The all-ages music scene has been a roller-coaster ride in the South Sound. Venues come and go. Frameshop, The Hall, The Junkyard, the Viaduct, Club Alano, Stereo Lounge, Mandolin Café, Yes Yes and Hell's Kitchen on Sixth Avenue are gone. That said, I feel the youth music scene is on the rise, anchored by a true all-ages venue in Olympia - a venue that not only accepts under age attendance, but also welcomes and promotes it. I'm talking, of course, about Northern.
Northern is downtown Olympia's premier all-ages venue. Hosting a variety of South Sound bands, it makes good music accessible to youth. Northern proves week in and week out, there's not even remotely a shortage of good live music. Take a gander at Northern's schedule for this upcoming weekend:
Friday, Jan. 11, Happy Noose, Manhattan Murder Mystery and Shitty Weekend and Seasons will be playing at 8 p.m. Happy Noose is rekindling the dark, mysterious sound that began almost half a century ago with bands such as the Doors and the Yardbirds. A modern-day psychedelic rock and roll band, its appearance at The Northern will be something to write home about. Manhattan Murder Mystery features simple, driving songs and catchy vocals that immediately caught my attention listening online. Similar to bands like The Vaccines and The Fratellis, Manhattan Murder Mystery will surely have you singing along by the second chorus.
The following night, the Maxines, Hooded Hags, Wimps and The Shivas take Northern's stage. The Maxines are quintessential Northwest music. A two-piece band from Olympia, its distorted guitar, suave vocals and a groovin' rhythm make this band a perfect example of the sound that the South Sound has come to claim as its own. Classifying themselves as "bash rock," both members promise to beat "Fierce rockin' rhythms that languished in fire before being hauled out," and "Thrust at the crowd in the Maxines' most savage road-side manner."
Northern make it possible for under-age listeners to see their favorite acts - without a fake ID.