Welcome to The Modern Age

Every other Friday, in the basement of the Smith Center, the Food for Thought Cafe is converted into a concert venue where students and locals of all ages can get together to rock out and have a great time.

Every other Friday, in the basement of the Smith Center, the Food for Thought Cafe is converted into a concert venue where students and locals of all ages can get together to rock out and have a great time.

These concerts are dubbed The Modern Age, and they are a much-needed relief from the ever-burgeoning 21-and-over concert scene in Portland. All-ages venues close left and right in this town, and costs always seem to be to blame.

The Modern Age concerts are strictly volunteer run, mostly by KPSU (Portland State’s radio station) staff and other volunteers. Those savings, along with the savings from free use of Portland State facilities, means the music will continue without worry of the ultimate fun killer: money issues. It’s a community venue, run by and for the community.

Last spring, station manager Darren Bridenbeck and other KPSU staff members devised The Modern Age. They already had the volunteers and equipment, and it was soon off and running. And Bridenbeck is excited about The Modern Age because he and other higher-up staff at KPSU merely facilitate the concerts–the volunteers are the ones who really get the shows up and running.

“The overlying theme of The Modern Age is it’s a learning experience,” Bridenbeck said.

Each concert is carefully planned and Bridenbeck estimates that over 40 hours of work is put into each show.

The 15 or so volunteers run the soundboards, book the bands and work the door. At each concert, a different volunteer takes over the booking responsibilities and makes sure that various types of bands play The Modern Age-reflecting the format-less KPSU station. From indie to jazz to hardcore, all sorts of music has been heard at The Modern Age.

Word of mouth has begun to spread. Bridenbeck said over 20 bands have expressed interest in playing the venue.

Tony Prato, KPSU DJ and The Modern Age volunteer, has been involved with every show since it began. He normally runs the sound but come November, he will book his first show.

The Modern Age gives a place for underage concertgoers to go for a cheap price (shows range from $3 to $5). Prato has noticed at some shows that he was the oldest person there. It doesn’t bother him; he said he likes donating his time to give young music fans a place to see bands.

“It’s a good feeling being part of an effort to make that possible,” Prato said.

Since The Modern Age is still young, there is obviously room for growth. Bridenbeck expressed interest in converting Food for Thought into more of a traditional venue for the concerts, with curtains and other decorations. He said Food for Thought staff are into the idea as well and have mentioned possibly selling concessions in the future.

Turnout has been varied-ranging from 20 to 160 people–and usually depends on what bands play and how aggressively it is promoted, Bridenbeck said. What makes The Modern Age unique is its income structure. Since there is little cost for KPSU to run the shows, they rarely take more then a $20 cut of the door money. The bands get paid first and often get paid well, Prato said.

Bridenbeck said he would eventually like to see the shows happen once a week and get more on-campus residents to attend. What makes him excited is the idea of creating a basement entertainment zone for students and community members to hang out. He said he’s noticed that the bowling alley and video games in the basement are a good match for the venue. People can drift back and forth to enjoy themselves on show days.

While working on The Modern Age is time intensive, Prato said, it’s also fun for everyone involved. The volunteers get to plan concerts where people come out and are excited, listen to good bands and contribute positively to the Portland music scene.

“I don’t see how we couldn’t be having fun,” Prato said.JunkfaceBright Red PaperAutistic YouthFriday, Oct. 5

Doors open 7:30 p.m.$3-5 sliding scale

If you want to volunteer, meet at KPSU at 6 p.m.