It should have come to pass a long time ago that Memphis developed and all-ages scene worth giving a crap about. There has kind of always been one here, but it lies just on the outer edges of things. It’s shrouded in its kind of mystery in no small part because, well, “all-ages” seems to connotate to those who don’t know any better, in the words of someone I know, “a bunch of loudmouthed, bitchy, dirty, smelly kids bouncing off the walls to garbagecore”. So, the “adults” don’t care or get involved very much with their scene. These “kids”, being kids, have a healthy distrust of the people around them who spend more time trying to shut them out than to give them a hand.
While “the adults” are focusing too much on the bad apples and refusing to harvest the rest, your loss is someone else’s gain. I’m here to tell you: the all-ages scene is out in force to prove you’re on the wrong mission.
Among the other “all-ages” venues in Memphis, The New Daisy (an amazing venue that appears to be on its way back) is buried down on Beale Street which makes getting in and out very difficult and parking expensive. Then there is The Skate Park Of Memphis, is really in Cordova and, to be quite honest, I’m not a fan of Cordova and I dont want to venture out that way unless I have to. Had it not been for wanting to get out of the house Friday night, I might have completely skipped the show I decided to attend. Chuck Vicious has been doing a consistent and impressive job booking all-ages shows at Pho Hoa Binh on Madison, and I wish I could have stayed for Tofu Fest on Saturday night (if you saw me there, you’d know I wasn’t feeling too good when I showed up). But while PHB has a fantastic sound system, they can’t handle the sheer volume of people associated wtih a huge touring band.
Anyways, I had been to The Complex in its previous life and was none too impressed. The venue needed a lot, and the City of Memphis thought so too. What I discovered when I went back was much more than I, or probably the city itself, ever bargained for: an amazing venue that people had completely and needlessly overlooking because of that pesky term “all-ages”.
It’s a full service restaurant serving authentic Mexican food. I hear, from many others, that they even serve breakfast! They have a full bar and a stage with an excellent sound system. The room comfortably holds 500 people. It’s on Madison right across from the original Sam Phillips Recording Studio (around the corner from Sun Studios), and it’s in close proximity to the UT Memphis campus. And for big shows like the Against Me!/The Epoxies/Smoke or Fire/The Soviettes Fall Tour, they even had security from off-duty Memphis & Shelby County Police. The result: a great venue perfect for touring bands where they can have an excellent crowd without too much overhead and stellar food.
I’m not sure what more you could ask for. Okay just one thing: better parking?
To the people in Memphis who have been working to bring the all-ages scene together (there are so many), they have given it a new life and deserve recognition for their effort. The best way you can do that: go to shows and support the venues and the bands.
Against Me! was phenomenal, and The Epoxies put on a great live show. There were no fights that I witnessed, I only saw two people get kicked out, and the rest was just fun. Everyone who showed up had a good time.
But to make the night even more fascinating, as soon as that show was over The Complex hosted a free dancehall reggae and hip hop DJ night featuring DJ Redeye Jedi from Tunnel Clones! I got all my musical food groups — Hip-Hop, Punk, Reggae, Hardcore, New Wave — all in one comfortable seating. After dancing to some hot grooves, I rolled over to the Young Avenue Deli to finish up the night with 3/4ths of the boys from Lucero, all of Against Me!, and a whole crew of people.
I’ll probably put up a live review of the show over at Scenestars here shortly. For now, here’s a bunch of pictures from the night. I had a great time Friday night hanging out with everyone I ran into. Now you can see what you’ve been missing out on as well.