Aware house

A look inside The Warehouse, Carson City’s newest all-ages club

From left: Mark Moots, Nick Green and Rich Wiley of Reno metal band The Swamp Donkey perform at the Warehouse.

From left: Mark Moots, Nick Green and Rich Wiley of Reno metal band The Swamp Donkey perform at the Warehouse.

Photo By David Robert

“Where can a kid go and see four bands for five bucks?” asks James Parker. He sits near the head of a long, cafeteria-style table, where approximately 30 people are helping themselves to pasta, salad and cupcakes. Scene kids mingle with bright-eyed soccer moms, and the occasional spunky little kid goes shooting by, chasing his little sister or something. About 20 feet behind Parker, a spirited game of foosball is being waged between a guy who looks like a teenaged Davy Havoc and an 8-year-old who looks like a modern Beaver Cleaver.

This is The Warehouse, a new all-ages venue that Parker opened in Carson City. More specifically, this is the pre-show meal that is customary here. In a couple hours’ time, scores of young people will file in to take in a rock show.

In January, Parker, 42, and his crew began putting together the resources for The Warehouse.

“No one was doing anything like this,” he says. Sensing a gap between the demand for entertainment for young people and local businesses’ willingness to supply it, Parker was inspired.

The results are impressive. As warehouse spaces go, this one is tastefully disguised as a nightclub music venue. The space is broken up by a wall suspended by chains from the ceiling. This divides the stage area from a merchandise area for the bands to peddle their shirts and CDs, as well as avoids the hollow feeling of a big, empty warehouse. The stage is tall, allowing decent views from everywhere. The lights are real stage lights, and there’s also a projector and screen beside the stage for the more multimedia-oriented acts.

“We had The Stops in here, and they had some anime going the whole time they played,” says Parker. Other bands have shown slideshows or simply posted their logo, lest anyone forget to whom they’re listening.

When it comes to bricks and mortar and metal and plastic, The Warehouse is a suitable venue to take in a show. But the magic ingredient that truly sets The Warehouse apart is, you guessed it, the love.

“We just completely take care of the bands,” says Sarah Armstrong, the 19-year-old bundle of energy that serves as The Warehouse’s promoter. This includes gathering the bands, the crew, friends and family before each show and feeding them dinner.

Jeremy Orris, drummer of A House Cursed, plays Foosball with Warehouse concessions vendor Steve Snyder while Warehouse organizer James Parker looks on.

Photo By David Robert

“They really appreciate that,” says Armstrong.

Who wouldn’t? Free food, lots of friendly faces and a chance to mingle with fellow musicians; there really isn’t a downside from the band’s standpoint. What’s more, in advance of the show, Armstrong contacts the bands and asks what their preferred “strings, picks and sticks” are. On the day of the performance, a gift bag is waiting for them, including all the gear they requested, provided by Troy White of Cornerstone Music in Carson City.

“We just want the bands to feel welcomed and appreciated and loved, that’s all,” says White.

Musicians are reciprocating.

“They’ve been incredible,” says Brandon Bowthorpe, of the Provo, Utah based band Victim Effect. “Other venues don’t reach out to you like this. … We wish them the best of luck, but if they keep this up, they won’t need it.”

After weeks of preparation, the venue hosted its first concert in late March, on an unfortunate Saturday night when several other local rock shows were competing for scenesters’ attentions. Nonetheless, The Warehouse managed a decent turnout and, by all accounts, the show was a success. “There was more buzz about this place after one show than I’ve seen for any other venue,” says Logan Needham of Reno band All Day Drive.

Inside the walls
For Carson’s long-suffering youth, the new venue is a welcome addition to the traditional jerkwater options of amusement: drinking, fucking and fighting.

Mac Malikowski has felt the pain of a music scene that has left much to be desired. At 19, he has already logged dozens of road trips to see quality music.

“I’ve spent so much time and money driving to Reno, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other places to see shows,” he says. “I’m excited to have a place that I can ride my bike to.”

The Warehouse crew members always prepare a dinner to feed the bands before the show.

Photo By David Robert

“Kids in this area don’t have very much to do other than get drunk, get high and get into trouble,” says Parker. “This is a place where I can guarantee the parents, if your child is here, inside these walls, they’re going to be all right.”

The kids don’t have to stay inside the walls, of course. After paying their five bucks (or whatever the show might cost), they get a stamp and are free to come and go as they please.

As the name implies, The Warehouse is in an industrial area of east Carson City. There aren’t any neighbors or bystanders to bother. If the trunk of their late model SUV is stocked with low grade beer and store brand vodka, and they choose to sit in said SUV with the tinted windows rolled up, thinking that no one can see them, and they get drunk as they wait for the band they want to see, well, that’s something over which The Warehouse has little control. As is the case with any all ages’ event/venue, some kids are going to find ways to get intoxicated.

But, that’s not really the point.

“My parents and people their age are always like, ‘Oh, I’m glad you go to concerts and stuff to stay out of trouble,'” says Malikowski. “But it’s not about distracting young, restless teens. It’s about the music.”

Parker only concerns himself with what happens inside his venue. Once inside The Warehouse, teens have a clean, well-maintained space in which to see live music. Attentive security staff prevents any ruckus from erupting, while not being so uptight as to stop the adorable little “mosh pits” the pubescent young men start.

The space itself holds Sunday church services, and many of The Warehouse’s organizers met while in church. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to “drop a Jesus bomb on you,” as Armstrong puts it. Come showtime, this is simply an all-ages music venue.

There is a noticeably positive energy in the air. Even the kids who put the most time and effort into looking disaffected—ironed hair, black eyeliner, fishnet stockings, and the like—seem happy to be at The Warehouse. Their smiles and laughter betray their calculated misfit persona.

Parker and company are committed to maintaining the high quality of the venue. They plan to host a couple of shows a month—not enough to get overwhelmed and start overlooking the charming details of the place.

By midsummer, Parker wants to host a national act, although he concedes that show “might be a little more” than five bucks. Still, the idea of a national act performing in Carson City would have seemed preposterous a few years ago. The emergence of a music scene in the capital city is encouraging, and The Warehouse has already booked regional touring bands like Las Vegas’ Fletch and Provo’s Victim Effect, who’re veterans of the Taste of Chaos Tour.

For a rare all-ages venue that’s well-maintained with a positive, welcoming atmosphere, The Warehouse should be able to count on some good support.