The best music scenes thrive when there is a solid number of younger musicians and fans at its base. The more high schoolers who play gigs and come to shows, the more bodies there’ll be to take up the torch when older members of the community go into punk retirement.
In Pittsburgh, there’s an unfortunate shortage of all-ages venues and, as a result, the youth participation is lacking.
There are some exceptions to the rule, however. Take Grant Charney; he’s 18 years old and plays in a band called Johnny Hates 45’s. In an effort to be taken more seriously, he started Social Fools Booking (SFB) and began to book his own shows. In the year or so since he began, Charney and SFB have developed a following, booking shows at the Mr. Roboto Project almost exclusively.
“It’s just really easy to put on shows there,” Charney explains via email. “There’s no presale or anything, it’s not a house venue so you can give out the address without concern, and it’s not 21+.”
Charney books an ongoing series of events called “One’s & Twos”; the inaugural show was the first he ever booked. A second was held in November and a third is in the works for this summer.
“It’s a good time because it’s all the bands we’ve become good friends with over the years,” Charney writes. “It always draws a decent crowd and is a lot of fun.”
Although Charney’s work is important to the long-term health of the scene, he doesn’t consider SFB a part of the broader community, and he certainly won’t take part in scene politics.
“I generally only care about the artistry and the message, not any other bullshit,” explains Charney. “Regardless of who you are, we’re really all in this together, and dividing into our own little subsets, which is what I think the scene is, doesn’t help anybody.”
When asked about what DIY ethics mean to him, Charney responds: “Doing it yourself; the acronym says it all. Not complaining that it’s hard to get discovered as a musician because, thanks to the internet, anybody can make music.
“In reality, if you put the effort into it, you can do a lot.”