Local music venue remains mindful of the next generation

On a cold Saturday night in Calgary, local indie-pop acts performed to an unusual audience, ranging in age from toddlers to senior citizens.

While a backing track of danceable beats plays from his iPhone, self-proclaimed “sex-pop” act Mark Mills alternated between playing his buzzing keyboard and crunchy electric guitar to the packed performance room at Vendome Café in Kensington.

“I love Mark Mills. I always try to come to his shows,” said fan Trish Dribnenke.
“He has a really positive energy that is remarkable in a live show… Everyone gets into that.”

While the night’s entertainment was open to minors, all-ages options have dwindled in the past few years, a fact not lost on 18-year-old Aleem Khan who also performed at the event on November 29th with his band Shaani Cage.

 “When I was growing up, I felt very inspired by these events,” said Khan. “There were a couple all ages venues which were great – the Area and the New Black to name a few – both of which have closed down.”

The New Black was a not-for-profit all-ages venue in Inglewood that ran for five years, the longest a venue of its kind in Calgary has been able to stay in business. Founder Darren Ollinger explained to FFWD Weekly that challenges ranged from zoning to overhead.

“There’s a lot of things: it’s expensive to run, it doesn’t bring in much money,” said Ollinger.

Despite these challenges, there are still those who fight for cultural spaces accessible to minors. After all, teenagers are only a few years away from leading the charge of arts and culture in the city.

Mark Mills holds a young fan on his shoulders at a performance at Vendome Café. Mills looks to the next generation for inspiration.

Photo by Paul Rodgers“It is important that everyone has a chance whilst they are younger to discover art and music, to have the choice to become involved in being a
part of our local arts and music community,” Says local all ages booker and founder Pint Sized Records, Vanessa Gloux.

Vendome has hosted performances open to minors each Thursday for just over a year. With the popularity of its first Saturday night event, the café may make a great home for music fans under 18.

Said Vendome talent booker and manager Kristi Mcleod, “I love the fact that [Vendome] is already open to the all ages community… I would love to have a Saturday event once a month.”

cgallant@cjournal.ca