Just about a year ago, Mayor Martin Chavez shoved the term "all-ages venue" into the mouths of every musician and music fan in town. With the simple threat of banning all-ages shows at venues that sell alcohol, a huge debate was sparked, music supporters marched and regulations passed enforcing precautions to prevent underage drinking. But all-ages shows have not been banned. The debate has polarized both sides—the city nearly accusing every all-ages show of directly contributing to underage drinking, and the music community screaming that banning alcohol sales will kill the all-ages scene. It isn't over.
In a recent public safety meeting hosted by the Downtown Action Team, Pete Dinelli, deputy city attorney and head of the Safe City Task Force, assured bar and nightspot owners that the issue of all-ages events in clubs is far from resolved. Dinelli made it clear that he'd like to put a stop to them as a matter of public policy. Musicians, start your engines. In the meantime, bars and clubs can still host all-ages events, as long as the bar is in a segregated, of-age-only area.
Burque's scene boasts many venues. Some are strictly for 21-plus, a few have the ability to segregate the audience, and others host all-ages events (be they music, theater or otherwise) 100 percent of the time. The Compound isn't much different than other rock venues around the city. It has a stage and a sound system. National and local bookings. Painted walls, a front door and plenty of space to thrash. It just doesn't have a liquor license.
The Compound has been a safe place for metalheads, skankers and rocksters of all ages since 2004. When Joe Hernandez took over the club space that used to be known as the Attic, he knew he wanted an all-ages venue. “The reason I opened it up was for the scene to have a safe place to hang out,” Hernandez says. “My whole motivation was to have a clean environment for kids to go have a good time and mosh and dance.” It's just one more place to rock out—just don't come expecting to get smashed outside the mosh pit.
Hernandez says a common misconception about the Compound is that it's only a metal venue. True, they do host a number of metal, death metal, hard core and horror core bands, but that's not all they book, he says. He just likes snagging up good bands to play his club while they're in town. To make the Compound even more appealing, Hernandez recently moved his band merchandise store of the same name next door, tore down some walls and made the stage space bigger. “I pay the lease, but everyone has helped build this place. The whole scene, from the ska to death core, has helped build this place. I'm really appreciative of that.”
The crowds have been great, Hernandez says, and have ranged in age from teens to teens-at-heart. “I've had parents call with concerns with what the venue's about, and I've told them straight-up, 'Come on in and hang out!'” All of them left praising the scene, he says. “Everyone's invited. Teens, young and old.”
When it comes to the city’s “all-ages ban,” Hernandez says he's just not into the politics. “I believe a music scene should be united. If there's not a show at my place, I say check out the Sunshine [Theater], check out the Launchpad. I'm not into this for big financial benefit, I just want to create a scene.”