So as I write this I’m crossing some state – Illinois maybe? We just passed Aurora like in Waynes World, but I also think there is a small chance we are in Iowa. It’s weird how these things blend together. Enough drunken rambling though. What I wanted to talk about though was something important I discovered back in my youth, crossing the country as the underage manager of a very hot item on the metal market. These wide open vistas have called back ancient memories of times almost forgot. I’ve hesitated about writing on this topic in the past, but fuck it, I highly doubt I will get called out for an article I write semi-anonymously. So here it is, plain and simple: As long as you are smart and mature you can talk your way into any venue, and so being underage doesn’t matter.
I know a ton of kids who are hesitant to dive into the world of underground music because they feel certain that they are going to be tossed out the second folks find out they aren’t 21. Then a band like Noisem came along and proved that if you were good enough exceptions will be made. As I found out when I was running around with bands as a younger man, the rule of fake it till you make it also applies to legal drinking. There are a few things you can do to come off as older, and in the long run it will save you a lot of stress an allow you to kick off your career far earlier than any of those schmucks who decided to go to music school.
The people who run venues tend not to be the type of people who normally would be against underage drinking. In fact, it’s pretty rare to find one who isn’t at least a fairly heavy drinker. They probably started drinking in bars when they were underage too. That’s what happens when you work in a bar. Their real fear is that they will get a ticket – in which case they would be royally screwed. Most music venues can’t afford that kind of loss, and the ones that can tend to still run a very tight ship. In many ways you can’t fault them for being brutally strict, they are using a utilitarian approach, they can only do so much. So how do you get in as a young professional?
Well, the easiest thing to do is to show up with the band. Sometimes they come around to card you anyway though. This is where you have a choice, which quite frankly lies on deception. If you say something like, ‘Oh we normally leave our ID’s in the car you can normally expect to get no shit after all. You showed up with the band. Why would a band have someone under 21 selling their merch? Especially you – you have played by all the other rules of this blog and built up a healthy network and proven that you are a ‘good dude’ You have to keep playing this character if you want to keep contributing at a young age. One thing that I found useful was to try and pass for 30. You probably won’t get people thinking you’re that old, but it doesn’t hurt to try and project that age. A lot of people in their late teens want to pass for their early 20s so they can get into bars, but those who shoot for 30 tend to be the most successful.
If you do get carded anyway try and act mature and calm. Remember being friendly and compassionate will only help you. Allow your hands to be X’ed and just play along. The nicer you are and the more professional you act the less shit you are going to get. You need to realize though that there is going to be a much higher standard placed on you than on your peers. That being said – if you can continue to impress people and then when you finally turn 21 lay that knowledge on people they will freak out. Some might be pissed off, but most will just be impressed that you were able to behave that shrewdly with that many people. It speaks to a level of dedication that people ware going to want to see from their industry saviours.
That’s what this whole thing boils down to really, a willingness to be shrewd and to fight for what you deserve. There is a screwed up world out there in front of us and one we all are going to need to deal with as we fight ever forward in the music industry. This is obviously an industry of passion and if you want to make a serious go at it while still very young then you are going to need to be willing to be the most passionate and most serious. Doing shitty basement shows where no one would care anyway can only get you so far. It requires real professionalism and kindness to move forward effectively if you want to change the world.