The venue that popped my musical cherry is closing after 20 years. Get ready for the nostalgia bomb to explode.
I can’t remember the first show I saw at Tremont. I was in my friend’s car who was old enough to drive and we hit South End, a neighborhood in Charlotte, NC untouched by development. Back then – probably 2003 – it was (and what we see now as) the quintessential blank canvas for creating a cultural utopia – abandoned but still beautifully bricked warehouses, grungy used car dealerships, a couple of cheap eats, and gravel parking lots. My first Concert was Aerosmith and Lenny Kravitz (it was amazing, thanks for asking), but my first step into the unpolished, beautiful world of Music was in Tremont.
Your fearless writer in 2007, Paramore shirt and all, with high school BFF Mike Jones
Tremont Music Hall is a crappy venue and for that reason it should stick around for 20 more years. The bathrooms were atrocious and best avoided at all costs. There was no backstage to speak of for the main stage, instead bands parked beside the landing dock and had to pee amongst showgoers regardless of how big the act was. The venue itself is split into two rooms. The small-stage Casbah was the altar at which my high school’s battle of the bands raged forth, and where I saw a multitude of heavy metal, pop rock, emo, hardcore and swarths of local bands play. The main stage was essentially the rest of the warehouse, terribly lit and perfect for make out corners, beer and flask swilling and all manner of indecency that teenagers like myself got into.The parking lot across from Tremont was a bumper car rally on weekends when the shows brought sold out crowds. You didn’t want to wander back to your car alone (I got a knife pulled on me making this rookie mistake), and the venue was backed up to an overgrown field that always looked like it had a crime scene waiting to be found.
Ah, the memories. I made out with my boyfriend on one of the pool tables. I learned the hard way during a Cowboy Mouth concert to never wear a skirt without tights to a show. What does beer and whiskey taste like? I found my answer at Tremont. Two friends got some battle scars from the Scary Kids Scaring Kids frontman falling from the ceiling scaffolds and landing directly on top of them. I met my best friend of over 10 years by shyly identifying our matching wristbands the first day back to high school after seeing Paramore. The posters I tore off the walls to commemorate the gig hung proudly in my childhood room. I did my first interviews at Tremont and knew from the get go that music was going to be The Calling.
I’m trying to remember all the shows I saw at Tremont. The venue’s About section has a comprehensive list of acts that have come through its doors, which you can check out here, but a few that jump out are from the vestiges of my youth. Motion City Soundtrack, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Senses Fail, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Paramore, Relient K, Mae, Clutch, Hawthorne Heights, Alkaline Trio, Chevelle, Breaking Benjamin, Cute Is What We Aim For, Dinosaur Jr., and so many more.
A shitty video from Paramore’s 2006 show at Tremont.
There are thousands of Tremonts that have come to their demise in cities and towns all over the country. We can point the finger at whomever and whatever we’d like – local politics, Proposed Land Use Actions, gentrification, apathy, The Man. Ideally, if Tremont were to close simply due to wear and tear (it’s been through a lot in its 20 years) and replaced with a similar space with better resources, that wouldn’t change a thing. But the Proposed Land Use Actions, those white billboard grim reapers that signal death for these spaces almost always predict condos with retail space below. Ultimately what determines all ages spaces, DIY venues, and any brick and mortar haven for arts and culture is its importance of what these spaces represent to the community and who’s going to do it. For every lost venue there are at least a dozen house shows happening all over the city that night, creating safe havens for artists and friends to commune and collaborate. The people on those leases and in these living rooms are the present and future booking agents, venue managers, touring musicians, bartenders, and industry folk who will create a space for the music to live. I’m gonna pour one out for it and pour a double to cheers all the DIY spaces and house shows that are raging through the Charlotte suburbs tonight. That’s where the next memories will be made.