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Youth Will Not Be Served
Heard Mentality: The best of the music blog for the week of June 29-July 5
All-ages venue eVocal is closing. Which sucks.
In operation since 2006, the hybrid clothing-and-jewelry store/art gallery/live-music venue has been one of the only places in Orange County where the 21-and-under crowd can enjoy a show. They’ve genuinely strived to support local music and art, booking Southern California bands nearly exclusively. Pretty much every OC act of note from the past three years, regardless of genre, played there, and I’ve never heard anyone say a bad thing about the place. Recently, they featured Newport Beach’s the Jakes for a month of free Tuesday-night shows, giving away T-shirts commemorating the band’s residency on their website.
But with financial times being what they are (y’know, bad), owner Brett Walker has decided to close eVocal’s spot on 19th Street in westside Costa Mesa. Walker has indicated that he plans to keep the eVocal brand alive by launching an apparel line, increasing their web presence (www.evocal.com) and promoting shows at other venues.
The venue had its official goodbye on July 4 with the Freedom Creative Arts Fest II, featuring more than a dozen local acts (including Love Your Mother, the Steelwells, the New Limb, Parade of Lights and Sweet Sweet Things). Though the attendance was not what you might hope (but reasonable considering the holiday and how quickly the event was pulled together), the event was a success in terms of providing a fun, non-traditional Independence Day celebration and giving people a chance to say goodbye. Bittersweet positive vibes all around. There’s one more show scheduled at eVocal for Friday, with Yellow Red Sparks, Barrett Johnson, Billy Kernkamp and Railroad to Alaska.
It’s still hard for me to get used to how few all-ages venues there are here, especially ones with reasonably priced concerts. Where I’m from in Phoenix, 21-and-over shows were pretty rare; even if a place served alcohol, drinkers were just relegated to a corner. I can only imagine the frustration young music fans feel getting shut out of the hip national gigs that come to Detroit Bar.
The closing of eVocal leaves a void. There’s simply no other comparable all-ages venue in Orange County willing to regularly book all-local lineups; the only other places that do so are bars (Slidebar, Continental Room, Gypsy Lounge). Chain Reaction in Anaheim is all ages, of course (it’s even their URL), but primarily deals with touring acts. The House of Blues books occasional all-local shows (including one scheduled for July 24), and the Yost in Santa Ana has been hosting monthly concerts booked by KUCI, but by nature, neither is going to compete with eVocal’s frequency.
High-school kids are usually the most fervent supporters of local bands. Here’s hoping they’ll soon have a new place to see them.