by Josh Vanek
The Zootown Arts Community Center (or “ZACC”), a nonprofit arts organization, just took a huge step and secured the basement space under their main-floor digs on Missoula’s North First street. It’s pretty awesome news if you’re like me and you consistently long for an informal, hang-out-watch-bands, talk-about-stuff situation compared to the average show. Oh, and I’m stoked to see Criminal Code again.
They played Total Fest last summer and are a great, fast and kind of chorusy (the guitar effect) ala Hüsker Dü new wave punk group from the unassuming, sleeper hit-maker city of Tacoma, WA. The Funs from Chicago and two great locals, Needlecraft and King Elephant round it all out. $5, 8-11 PM. Event information is here
The thing I want to talk about is this: The ZACC is a registered 501C3, or nonprofit organization. It provides arts education to pretty big crop of young Missoulians and it’s awesome, important work they do. Missoula’s a fortunate place to have an organization that provides arts education as increasingly the K-12 system falls short of the mark for arts. It is a huge, huge deal (correct, two huges) that the ZACC has chosen to widen its scope of support to original, local and traveling musicians. Low-overhead show spaces are hard to sustain (see closures to shows of Zoo City Apparel, the Lab, Eating Cake, Spruce St. etc. etc.) but among the most fertile ground for supporting a community of musicians and bands. That the ZACC is getting into this business is worth celebrating, supporting and respecting. Here’s how you can do all three:
Celebrate it: I know that sounds unfortunately new agey, but I'm serious. Think if you lived in... say, Jamestown, ND. Would you get many chances to see music this vital? come see the show, and other shows! These are great, informal times with awesome music. They’re truly structured to be safe, affordable and for all-ages, 8-80. Bring earplugs if you don’t do much loud music listening.
Support it: come prepared to support the show, it’s $5. Buy some stuff from bands. Nearly everybody should have a record, shirt or CDR or something. Make a donation to the ZACC. They put the money to good use, keeping costs low, providing scholarships to students, and doing things like offering their basement for all-ages music. http://www.zootownarts.org/donate
Respect it: I’m an of-age guy, and pretty unoriginally a beer fan. However, I’ll be fine bringing along a water bottle to quench my thirst on Sunday. And don't mistake this for martyrdom. This is more important than having a drink in my hand, and I think I'll get by! These events are alcohol free, and that’s the rules. It's there to ensure that the environment’s truly safe for all-ages, and that’s a lot of trust. Shows like this are typically run by volunteers, and folks who care about DIY music happening. They’re not the authorities, but they are charged with ensuring the show follows the rules, and the alcohol rule is there for a really good reason. If you’ve got time, help folks clean up.
I hope to see you there.
A version of this post originally appeared at the Total Fest blog.