Above: young musicians onstage after a show
KIDS NEED TO CONGREGATE
Young adults frequently find themselves isolated, making “friends” only online, getting more and more detached from social life in the real world.
One of the things that youths share across all demographics is a love for music. Music has the ability to bring kids together online, and that is what the Warehouse does in the real world: bring kids together for live music performances.
GENERATIONS OF “WAREHOUSE KIDS”
For 27 years, the Warehouse has fostered a safe, alcohol-free environment for Coulee Region teens to gather to share their love for music, make new friends, and develop a sense of self in a complicated world where often their only identity is on social media. Warehouse provides an atmosphere where youths can create their own “community” with other kids from cities across Western Wisconsin, Eastern Minnesota, and Northeastern Iowa. Kids also drive to the Warehouse on a regular basis from as far away as Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Eau Claire, and Green Bay. There are kids coming now whose parents were part of the Warehouse community as young adults, and those early “Warehouse Kids” have progressed into all walks of life, from business owners to professors.
IF YOU NEED ALCOHOL TO WATCH THE BAND…
In providing a completely alcohol-free facility for young adults to gather, there is no peer-pressure to drink, unlike bars and restaurants that mix kids and alcohol in the same environment, as well as face them with table top and bar top alcohol advertising, neon alcohol signage, alcohol pool table lighting, etc.
At the Warehouse there is no peer pressure to get kids to drink, no other people sitting around them with drinks making them feel like they are “missing out”, no wristbands to allow some people to drink and not the rest, no commercial marketing pressure about booze. The Warehouse does not serve alcohol to anyone.
WHO RUNS THESE SHOWS?
The Warehouse has a staff of experienced concert crew members, some of whom have been on-staff volunteering consistently since as far back as 1999 (one since the beginning in 1991). Other crew members are the youths themselves, the youth musicians, and parents of the youths that use the facility. Regardless of age or length of time here, it’s the passion of everyone who gives their time at the Warehouse to provide a safe environment in which for kids to be entertained, give young local musicians the opportunity to play on a big stage and learn about the music business, and to provide stability of community for kids who rely on the acceptance of The Warehouse as their home away from home. It isn’t always the perfect kids who come to shows, sometimes it is the social outcasts who more than anything need a place to feel “at home”. Warehouse has always been a safe home to misfit kids.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO THE KIDS HEAR?
Warehouse entertainment ranges from national bands who have CDs released and distributed across the US by record labels, to solo acoustic music performers from local high schools, and everything in between. Metal, rock, acoustic, pop, punk, ska, industrial, Americana, alt-rock, hip-hop, and various other eclectic genres all play at the Warehouse. Most often, smaller national touring bands (who are getting their career started on a small record label) will perform concerts as “headliner” and the local high school-aged bands will play first.
It takes several hours before the doors open to move equipment and instruments and soundcheck, so the young local musicians get several hours of time to talk with the touring musicians. They learn about the pitfalls of “the road”, the work involved in getting attention of a record label, and sometimes they make lifelong friends. Seeing wide-eyed high school kids talk with some of their favorite musicians and watching them be enlightened by a touring musician talking about the music business is an affirmation that those kids are getting something unique out of their Warehouse experience. Since the Warehouse caters to “baby bands” (bands on their way up), many of these local kids play with bands that become superstars. A couple years go by and they can proudly proclaim that they played on a show with Fall Out Boy, or My Chemical Romance, or All-American Rejects, or Nine Inch Nails.
SO YOUNG BANDS GAIN EXPERIENCE. WHAT ELSE?
It is not just the young local musicians that benefit from being able to perform in front of their friends and other kids.
The audience is made up of kids from all over the Coulee Region, who get together at concerts and make new friends with kids they would have never met if it hadn’t been for their shared interest in live music. By giving these young adults the opportunity to interact and gain the confidence that comes with meeting and being befriended others, kids develop faith in their own abilities, in their own decision-making, and in their own judgment. It is real life interaction with other kids in a comfortable atmosphere that they can feel is “their” space and it gives them the positive reinforcement to believe in themselves and their own potential. Music can open up the socially-stunted young adult. Self-confidence is frequently cited by experts as a major catalyst in why or why not a youth starts to drink, and also in suicide-related issues. Kids with strong self-confidence are more prone to not find a need to self-medicate with alcohol or other substances.
In a city with a deeply ingrained alcohol and drug problem, where college-kids have drowned due to impairment from binge drinking, where a growing substance-abuse problem is raising concerns with the community, Warehouse is one of the few places where kids can gather in a familiar stomping ground and enjoy the safety of other sober and drug-free young adults who won’t judge them or reject them for their choices.
Here are some former (and a few current) “Warehouse Kids”!
Giving young adults a place to experience music and art through popular music concerts and giving them a sense of involvement through participatory creative culture, grows healthy, expressive, intelligent adults, and is a critical asset to the community in which it happens. The Warehouse has been serving this delicate young adult demographic for 27 years.
SUPPORTING WAREHOUSE ALLIANCE IS SUPPORTING THE COMMUNITY. Please consider joining us by contributing now.