Well, kids still consider it a pain to drive into Pittsburgh, and their parents still believe the city is a scary place. But most importantly, they already have all-ages shows to attend -- often closer and better publicized on the Internet.
Since the turn of the decade, regional producers promoting local and even national acts (those appealing to Gen-Y youth, at least) have risen dramatically: There's Project Mayhem, Concert Chaos, Pittshows, Pittpunk, New Noise, Baden Beatdown, Faded Industry, Evening Cure, F-23, Play'r, Backstage, and several others that target the younger set. Spread out among new, often suburban venues -- such as the Corner Pocket in Blairsville, Charleroi's Club Octane, Sun Jin's in Grove City and the Meridian Vets in Butler -- they attract kids under the media radar.
The rising tide of Christian alternative and screamo is being served, too, by such places as Mount Lebanon's Southminster Presbyterian Church and the North Side's Bethel Christian (a.k.a. "The School").
Justin Nixon, of Washington, Pa., post-rockers In the Wake of Giants notes the packed shows in the basement of Citizens Library in his hometown. "You see the same kids all the time at these shows. Then, when the same bands play at Mr. Small's, their audience follows them out there. But they have no idea about any other [city] venues."
Mr. Small's does seem the exception to the "big, bad city" rule, but it's more than just being across the river in Millvale. It's the Internet, explains promoter Josh Bakaitus of Bridgeport Entertainment, and he should know: He can get hundreds to show up at the Lawrenceville Moose at the drop of a handbill.
"I just think many [suburban] kids aren't interested enough to commit to being active city concert-goers," he says. "Since Laga shut down, everyone's pretty much checking Mr. Small's site. Any show I do there, ticket sales are huge, even though I do the same amount of ads as for other shows. Their Web site makes them amazingly successful."
How can other urban venues woo the kids? Do what Small's does, Bakaitus says: Get an attractive, interactive Web site; maintain an active MySpace presence; sell tickets online and at suburban outlets, etc. Nixon adds one more thing: City bands and promoters should travel to outlying regions and establish a physical presence. "It's all about word of mouth," he says. "Talk to kids individually. Strike up a conversation with them one at a time."