If you build it, will they come? 

Over the past decade and a half, a handful of enterprising young souls have put an awful lot of work into giving the kids what they want. Namely, a place to see the kind of loud, raucous, punk and metal that’s become incredibly popular among music fans from approximately 15 to 30.

The niche genres of Indie-Rock, Emo, Screamo, Metalcore, Grindcore and even Christian Hardcore have eclipsed almost all other types of music for rebellious and angsty youth in that age range — and in most similar markets across the USA, underage kids have some outlet in which to regularly see live shows of that ilk.

But not in Savannah.

To be sure, upstart independent promoters such as Tim Walls  (through his fondly remembered Coastal Rock Productions) steadily booked extreme and brutal metal and punk acts from the mid-’90s through the early part of this decade, but invariably, every time they started to get into a groove, and began to attract major names capable of drawing a few hundred folks at a time, the bottom dropped out.

That was usually because neither Walls nor his peers could ever muster the will and/or the capital to actually lease or purchase their own freestanding venue and professional PA system. Instead, they wound up squandering most of the proceeds on exorbitant nightly hall rentals.

While existing clubs like The Jinx often allowed those 18 and up to enter their premises provided they not imbibe, once the City of Savannah railroaded through a ham-fisted law a few months back prohibiting minors from any bar even if they were providing live entertainment, scores of young people from throughout the area were forced to go without seeing bands at all, or resort to packing themselves like sardines into unlicensed and uninsured “house shows,” where punk and hardcore groups set up in dens and living rooms, hoping to make it through a full set before complaints from neighbors about the noise made the police shut them down.

So, one would think that if someone took the time, money and effort to open a place that was A) legal, B) insured, C) safe, D) free from noise ordinance worries, and E) designed with the needs of both the audience and the performers in mind, it would be an instant success, right?

Think again.

For the past few weeks, there has been a massive, brand-new ALL-AGES club in our area that features both established and up-and-coming punk and metal bands.

Studio B is a no-alcohol and no-smoking facility that boasts an off-duty deputy Sheriff on hand for security — plus, parents are encouraged to come with their kids, and hang out in a VIP balcony that overlooks the stage and the inevitable mosh pit (but keeps them out of the fray).

Unfortunately, the building —which doubles as a new community center— is rather off the beaten path, and despite a ton of word of mouth publicity and grass-roots marketing via MySpace (the preferred method of promotion for this scene), attendance has been sparse at best. Their most successful show drew only 25 people to a room which they claim would comfortably hold at least 500!

Restaurateur Bob Rodriguez, who built the club adjacent to his pizza joint (on Highway 196 East between Hinesville and Glennville), says he did so to give his son Michael and others like him a safe, drug-free place to hang out and be inspired by music. Michael books the bands, but Bob oversees the process, and makes the groups sign an agreement promising to behave. “There’s no cussing here,” he enthuses.

“My vision is for this to be a gathering place for people of all ages,” he continues. Folks can order pizza, hot dogs, soft drinks, whatever and have them delivered next door. We’ve got a big stage, and a nice PA, and the bands have their own ‘Green Room.’ We tried to really do it up right!”

Michael says he fears the reason more people aren’t coming to the shows is that they imagine the club is too hard to find.

“It’s only 15 minutes from Hinesville,” he explains. “Every band that has played here loves it and can’t wait to come back. They’re really impressed with how we treat them. They feel like they’re the focus of the show, not just stuck in a corner of a bar.”

This weekend, a quartet of noteworthy indie-rock and metal bands appear. To hear samples of their music, or for detailed directions, go to www.myspace.com/studiobga or call (912) 237-3085. č


Our Finest Hour, Emerson, Too Late The Hero and My Epic play Studio B Friday at 9 pm. 


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Jim Reed

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