By Alexandra Rouse, Salem High School
Recently, I had the opportunity to sell merchandise at a musician’s show in downtown Roanoke. More than ecstatic, I couldn’t refuse the offer. How many teenagers can say that they sold merch for one of their favorite artists? It wasn’t until after I said yes that I realized that the venue was at a local bar.
I immediately assumed that being younger than 21 would result in many complications. But after getting my situation cleared with the establishment, everything was fine as long as I was with the band.
Sitting behind the merch table the night of the event, I wondered why live music is so often limited to an audience that is strictly over 21.
“Live music has become an adult thing to attend, mainly because teenagers don’t have the time, money or transportation to attend the shows,” said Allison Raines, a senior at Salem High School. “By the time people are over 21, most of them have cars and jobs, so they can buy tickets for live music.”
Raines, a music enthusiast, has seen a number of shows live in a variety of genres. In the Roanoke area, she has seen Old Crow Medicine Show, The Lumineers, the Avett Brothers and James Taylor, along with numerous artists that she has seen out of town, including Bruce Springsteen and U2, to name a few.
“In the past, my parents have literally helped me get into live shows because in most cases they’ve provided me the money and transportation. It wasn’t until last summer at the Old Crow Medicine Show concert that I drove myself to the Civic Center,” said Raines. “But, my mom still paid for our tickets, thankfully.”
Michael Drougas, a junior at Salem High School, believes that instead of money, technology plays a larger role in the lack of teens at live shows.
“Most teens get music from the Internet and don’t have as much interest to see music live,” said Drougas. ”Teenagers and adults have different tastes in music. Most of the local venues attract music for an older audience. I’m a fan of rap and very rarely do rappers come to Roanoke,” Drougas said.
Overall, both Drougas and Raines had differing views on whether or not teens should be allowed at these considerably adult events.
“I think the age limit should be lowered to 16 or 17. The more people who can experience live music, the better. Preventing people from seeing live art is wrong,” Drougas said.
Raines thinks the opposite is true. “I don’t think teenagers should be allowed into 21-and-over venues. They’re probably 21-and-over for a reason — that reason being the venue serves alcohol. Besides, the music at 21-and-over venues is usually meant for a mature audience.”
Even though they both have differing views on the music scene, in general, they both agree that live music needs to be kept alive in the youth of today’s society.
“Live music allows the artist to talk to their fans directly, and by seeing an artist live it allows us to connect to artists, too,” Drougas said.