by Hana Simons
Eighteen plus. Those are the two words any fan underage fan loaths. Even still I’m frustrated over all the shows I had to miss, simply because I wasn’t old enough to attend. But over time I just learned to adapt and grew accustomed to all-ages shows. I’ve only ever been to three or four 18+ shows. All of which was for my friend’s band, except for the last one I attended.
I was contacted by a publicity agent who asked if I wanted to interview the band Bear Hands and cover their show. Garage Music News typically only covers all-ages shows, but we editors thought it might be a great opportunity to give our readers a look behind the 18+ curtain.
Bear Hands played their sold-out show at 7th Street Entry on July 22, a Friday night. Minneapolis is always crazy busy, but on a Friday night at about 9pm forget it. I was surrounded by a bunch of people in their late 20’s. I knew absolutely no one. I didn’t see one familiar face, which I’m not accustomed to at shows. It was a weird feeling.
The Moth & The Flame was the opening band. I was stunned by their talent and energy. I’ve never seen an indie band live before and the vibe was completely different than a hardcore show. I kept turning around to see if someone was going to run into me or push me. But everyone just swayed back and forth and enjoyed the music. Towards the end of their set a women moved her way next to me–she’d obviously had a few too many. I got really frustrated when she spilled some of her beer on me, but I heard her talking to the women on the other side of her. She was a mom of a six-month-old, and this was the first time she had been out since her pregnancy. I couldn’t be mad at the woman for having a little fun for the first time in months.
Most concerts are pretty much the same. Great music, cool people, and the occasional fight. But the one thing that stood out about this show was the people there. So many people came up to me and asked me who I was covering the show for and they wanted to check it out and support it. I’ve never had anyone in my two years of photographing all-ages shows–not one person–ask me about what I was doing. It was an incredible change for me. It really meant a lot that strangers cared about what I want to do with my life and my career.
This show was such a crazy and a wild experience, full of happiness, joy, and even anger. I’ve never seen a room collectively be upset with one person until that night. Earlier that evening, I interviewed Val of Bear Hands, we had talked about a lot of things from pizza to some life advice. I had asked what he was looking forward to at the show. He mentioned how they always have had a great time in Minneapolis and he was really looking forward to playing here again. As the night went on Val stopped playing halfway through a song. Everyone just looked at each other out of confusion until he said “Hey! Get the fuck out of here!” and pointed to someone in the back. He continued to yell for the guy to go leave because he tried to fight the women in front of him and held his fist to her throat. The rest of the band stopped what they were doing and agreed. They didn’t play a single note until security removed him. “No fighting, everyone came here to have fun! Get out!” The whole room started yelling and screaming and what looked like a cup was hurled toward him as he was escorted out.
After their set I was in line waiting to buy merch when Val came over and saw me. He thanked me for the interview and for coming out to the show and supporting them. I smiled and thanked him. Another man walked over and thanked Val for kicking that guy out and said he had the upmost respect for him. All Val could say was that he just wanted to punch the fool and he couldn’t stand that he tried to hurt a woman. I got to meet all the members of Bear Hands and they were some of the most genuine and kind people in the world. They care about the people at their shows and care if they’re having a good time.
As I was walking out I kept reflecting on the night and how the sense of community was different. I still can’t get over it. Once I walked out the door I was lost in a crowd of people, the mainroom just finished their show at the same time as 7th Street. I thought it was chaotic at 9pm, midnight was way worse than I could have imagined. But I know that I will never forget this night and how it changed the way I saw 18+ shows. I hope the next one will be just as adventurous.