As any now-jaded rock fanatic who remembers having to bat his or her eyelashes at the Lee's Palace bouncers in the hopes of sneaking into Sebadoh shows sans ID can attest, nothing sucks more than being a teenage music geek barred from seeing pretty much every rad band that plays rock clubs in T.O.
Happily, although the days of Sonic Unyon all-ages blowouts are now distant memories, there's a new breed of thoughtful promoter types looking out for little guys. There's already been tons of ink spilled on whiz kid Eric Warner's Over The Top shenanigans, but not enough people are aware of another initiative, Wavelength editor Ryan McLaren's genius ALL CAPS series, which puts on monthly all-ages indie music shows.
"I never really thought about all-ages stuff before last summer, when I started meeting people under 19 through stuff like playing Manhunt," McLaren explains. "We're so focused on the bar model of putting on shows that it's hard to see how exclusionary things actually are. It made me want to remove those doors by doing a monthly music series with links to other all-ages indie communities."
Depending on how you see it, ALL CAPS has already thrown two or four events (two were pretty much ALL CAPS in name only). This weekend marks their massive third "official" show, a perfectly programmed bonanza, Saturday (August 12) from 3 to 9 pm in Dufferin Grove Park. Along with diverse acts like Proof of Ghosts, the Diableros, Neil Haverty, I Can Put My Arm Back On You Can't, Mantler and more, McLaren and second-in-command Catherine Ribeiro (Pyramid Culture) have planned a scavenger hunt, frisbee and good eats.
McLaren says he and Ribeiro were determined to unite bands that wouldn't normally play together.
"The community's grown to the point where there are lots of subgroups, so we wanted to take one band from each clique and bring them together. It didn't work out exactly as we wanted," he sighs. "But maybe there'll be turf wars!"
The event, organized outside the typical bar-centric rock show structure, is a bigger risk than, say, Wavelength, which makes it crucial that folks (even 19+ folks) show their support.
"The hardest thing is that it costs money," says McLaren. "I don't ever like not paying bands to play. I lost $180 on this show, and $100 on the show before it. We'll be passing a hat this time. I will say that Dufferin Grove has been amazing and so supportive. I wish other parks were as great."