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All Ages Shows in Wausau Pt. II, Electric Boogaloo

by Terry Stevens

"Hey you!  Under 21 kid!  Bet you wish you could have watched our show LIVE!"
A couple days ago, I posted a blog entry with a mission . That mission?  Getting all-ages shows to happen in the thriving metropolis of Wausau, Wisconsin. You should read that first blog entry so you can get up to speed with this story.

I placed a call to Wausau's Public Health and Safety Committee Chairperson, Lisa Rasmussen.  She got back to me right away and shared the following info.

The place where the VAST majority of rock shows happen in Wausau is The Fillmor Theater (duh).

The Fillmor is a great live music venue.  According to Ms. Rasmussen, it also has a Class B Liquor License.  This means that under STATE law, not City of Wausau Law, minors are not allowed ANYWHERE on the premises.

The Fillmor has done teen nights in the past, but in order to do so, they had to lock up every drop of alcohol in a sealed bunker several miles underneath the Earth's crust.  (I may be exaggerating a bit, but still, no booze when the kids are there.)

I asked Ms. Rasmussen what sort of Liquor License a venue would require to host all-ages shows.  She didn't know, but gave me a couple of contacts that I will get a hold of for that info.

I then asked about the separate rules and regulations for "Public Exhibition and Tavern Entertainment" (5.24) Vs. "Public Dances and Public Dance Halls" (5.24), Vs. "Private Teen Dance Clubs" (5.25) . 

The Fillmor has a "Tavern Entertainment License."  This differs from a "Public Dance Hall License".

Basically, the reason we can't do All-Ages shows at The Fillmor is that they simply don't have the license for it.  I've been told that All-Ages shows are a big burden on Business Insurance costs too.  Perhaps the financial risk brought on by All-Ages shows just don't justify the expense.

With that being said, according to Wisconsin's Liquor Laws, the under 21 set is allowed into bars as long as their parents are present.  The venue has the final say in that matter.  However, like I just mentioned, you're still looking at a serious bump in your insurance costs if your venue allows this.  I can't really blame a business owner for not wanting to lose money.

For a venue in a larger market like Milwaukee or Madison where you have a dozen shows a month, you might be able to make the numbers work.  With our market being so new to the touring circuit, it's going to take some serious financial patience to make that work.

There's another issue that we need to factor in.

Ms. Rasmussen also shared that a significant amount of Wausau-area parents have expressed concern about the under 21 set mixing with the over 21 set.  There have been issues with predatory behavior by some adults during Teen Night's and mixed events in Wausau's past.

Photo taken outside the site of Wausau's last teen night.
PHOTO CREDIT:  SMercury98, Creative Commons License.

Creepers be creepin'...


So, how's it looking for All-Ages shows featuring high production value, nationally known, getting regular radio/video/streaming airplay bands in Wausau, Wisconsin?

Not great, but getting better, all considered.

You get Wisconsin Valley Fair.  Aside from that, you're going out of town.  (Road trips to Milwaukee, Madison and the Twin Cities can be fun.  Take 'em.)

At this point, Wausau is turning into a great stop for nationally known touring bands.  Those people network with each other like crazy.  As long as adults keep coming to shows, buying tickets and supporting that scene, a day may come when the cost of opening these shows to All-Ages can be justified.

I hear rumbles all the time about larger venues in the area looking into booking big acts.  There's been talk of building convention centers, hockey arenas, and the like capable of holding big All-Ages shows too.

Finally, the response to my first blog was overwhelmingly positive.  Kids AND their parents have said that they would love All-Ages shows in the City of Wausau.  Perhaps some venue will read these responses and figure out a way to make it happen.  Like I said, there are mechanics in place wherein a parent could chaperone their kid to a show.  (By the way, if your parents do this for you, you'd better get them one of those "#1 Dad/Mom" Coffee Mugs .)

Until then, start a band.  Go to a gig at your buddy's house/garage/barn (just don't do anything stupid while you're there, and if you see stupid stuff start, GTFO).  Go to the Fair.  Book Face with your favorite bands.  Let 'em know that they have fans in Wausau.

And when you turn 21, buy a ticket to a show and support the scene.

*In addition to having a great alcohol-free time at shows when he was a kid"Scary" Terry Stevens is a radio host for Midwest CommunicationsYou can Book Face with him here.