Rock of ages.
June 27, 2005 6:02 PM   Subscribe

What makes a concert "all ages," "18+ only" or "21+ only" at a particular venue?

I've noticed that different shows at the same venue -- beginning at the same time on different days -- are listed with different age restrictions. The only difference when attending the all-ages shows seems to be that I need to flash an ID and get a wristband if I want to drink. The shows that are listed as 18+ or 21+ aren't (necessarily) raunchy acts. What gives?
posted by I EAT TAPAS to Media & Arts (16 answers total)
I know for Chicago, it depended on when the concert ended. There's a 12 o'clock curfew for minors (under 18), so any concert that went past midnight was always 18+. It's 21+ if they serve alcohol.
posted by orangskye at 6:07 PM on June 27, 2005

The Collective Soul show I saw at Irving Plaza in NYC recently went past midnight, had Vegas showgirls on stage, wine tasting, beer bars, gambling tables, and stuff. So it was definitely 21+
posted by riffola at 6:10 PM on June 27, 2005

Here in WA, it's usually to do with alcohol serving, though there was a weird law here until recently that pretty much outlawed all-ages events, by requiring exorbitant insurance premiums for an all-age event, so events were generally either under under 18, or 21+ (or, rarer, 18+ with no alcohol). I think it was another idiot hysteria law passed after a rape or something, and rock concerts were to blame or something.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:15 PM on June 27, 2005

At least in Lawrence, KS, if a venue thinks it can sell out the show without letting in anyone under 21, they'll definitely go for it. Far less annoying for them to deal with wrist-banding or marking the under-21's, or making sure they don't sneak out and bring their own alcohol in. Few bands can do this, so most shows seem to be 18+.

I don't know why they'd go 18+ instead of just all ages, but that's venues for you (and probably curfews). I can't stand hanging out with most people under 18 anyway (generally), so I definitely understand the practice...
posted by hototogisu at 6:19 PM on June 27, 2005

At one venue in town that's an old theater, the balcony is for under 21 and the main floor for 21+. Keeps them from having to wristband.

As the other posts have noted it's an alcohol thing, not a "raunchy acts" issue.
posted by 6550 at 6:41 PM on June 27, 2005

In Portland, Oregon:
All Ages: Venue must be covered by insurance to do all-ages events, and must meet some updated fire & safety ordinances. I can't remember about a curfew, but I've been to all-ages shows that ran to midnight or later. Venue must be non-smoking. Nocturnal, until it closed, was a nice all-ages venue that had some great shows until they closed down. :-P
18+: Regular show with no alcohol or alcohol served elsewhere. I think the Roseland is an 18+ venue, although I thought I remembered a while back seeing all ages shows.
21+: Alcohol is served, or alcohol in unenclosed areas. Must comply with a ton of Oregon Liquor Control Commission laws.

I know that in some jurisdictions, like Iowa City, IA, alcohol can be served in the presence of minors 19+ but 21+ers have wristbands that let them order them. So you'll see a lot of shows that would be 21+ advertised as 19+.
posted by SpecialK at 6:52 PM on June 27, 2005

Harlequin, that was a Seattle law (the Teen Dance Ordinance or TDO), not a Washington state law.
posted by matildaben at 6:53 PM on June 27, 2005

Oh, for non-locals: The Roseland is precisely what 6550 said, a converted theater with a balcony that serves booze and a floor for the youngin's.

And yeah, Storm & The Balls was an All Ages show at Nocturnal, which made me go 0_o because Storm Large is probably the classiest but raunchiest act I know of. (She usually ends up half-naked by the end of the show...)
posted by SpecialK at 6:54 PM on June 27, 2005

Essentially, it's up to the band--assuming the venue in question does all ages shows. The venue will make considerably less money putting on an all ages show as they'll sell less alcohol so they're generally reluctant to do it. However, if the venue is able/willing to do all ages and the band insists on it (because it has a sizable fan base that is underage), the venue may do it rather than risk having a popular band play another venue.
posted by dobbs at 6:57 PM on June 27, 2005

A detailed explanation here. Scroll down or search to find "Subject: [footprints] age, clubs, and economics" .
posted by duck at 7:20 PM on June 27, 2005

Here's a link with an anchor so you can get straight to the explanation.
posted by duck at 7:33 PM on June 27, 2005

What everyone else has said regarding curfews, economics, etc., but I think the band can have a lot to do with making shows all ages. I know some bands are very adamant about having all ages shows (regardless of the age of their fanbase), to the point of simply not playing at venues that won't work with them on that point.
posted by jetskiaccidents at 8:15 PM on June 27, 2005

hototogisu-- as for why they do 18+ instead of all ages, I can't speak for everywhere... but I can speak for Lawrence (having spent my childhood there alternately sneaking into or standing outside of 18+ shows, and now being good friends with most of the people that run the shows in that town). All ages means no alcohol, which means much less money for the venue (or the promoters that have rented the venue), I think curfew does apply for all ages shows, but that's not a big deal from the promotion side of things, because that means they can get an hour-and-a-half of bar time after the show if they want. Without curfew, the bands would play longer, people would work longer, but no extra money would be made for the extra effort.
posted by cosmonaught at 9:03 PM on June 27, 2005

In Milwaukee, a special permit needs to be obtained for every all ages show. One local club owner would constantly try to get other clubs busted under this rule.
posted by drezdn at 10:49 PM on June 27, 2005

cosmonaught: That makes sense. I didn't grow up here, and I can't actually remember the last all ages show I saw advertised, anyway.

posted by hototogisu at 11:23 PM on June 27, 2005

I always heard (in the UK) that it was due to insurance considerations. Supposedly they have to pay a bigger premium to allow younger people in due to the various problems younger people present.
posted by wackybrit at 9:29 AM on June 28, 2005

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