Culture News

Tempe's YOBS Closes Tonight

If you've never attended an event at YOBS before, tonight offers your last opportunity to do so.

The off-the-radar venue, which is based out of a funky residence in Tempe's Clark Park neighborhood, will be closing tonight. Proprietors Allison Karow and Gerald Biggs, who've lived in and operated YOBS for several years, are moving to Vancouver sometime in the near future and are pulling the plug on the venue. 

Cruise by YOBS and you'll see proof  -- the driveway's filled with the remnants of a garage sale held over the weekend and there's still a table setup in the front yard loaded with items they're giving away for free. 

YOBS has been a part of Tempe's cultural landscape for more than five years. The funky residence became the home of the non-profit Bike Saviours cooperative back in 2006. The grassroots cycling collective helped many a college student and Tempe resident get their hands on a two-wheeled ride by offering low-cost/no-cost workshops on how to build and repair bikes.

It also became a hotspot for underground punk shows and live music gigs, as well as a place where local street kids and indie types could catch an art show, make a bike tube wallet, munch on some vegan eats, attend fanzine discussions, or just hang out in the weed-strewn backyard and drink beer. Artists also held crafting events at the house and used it as a work space. (The Tempe Police Department also visited the house from time to time -- and even prohibited the venue from holding any shows for 90 days -- whenever they received noise complaints during especially raucous live shows.)

The cycling cooperative eventually moved to its current home near University Drive and Roosevelt Street while the residence became known as YOBS (shorthand for Ye Olde Bike Saviours). Both Karow, also known as Sunny Sealeopard, and Biggs say they're heading to the Great White North to engage in artistic pursuits: She'll be attending Emily Carr University of Art and Design to participate in a graduate program for painting, while he will become a full-time dance instructor and sound engineer.

"We'll miss the smells and sweat dripping off the ceiling, bands sleeping under our barbecue grill [and] leaping into a trashcan of ice and water," they wrote. "We're not sure what others will miss, as we frequently booked abrasive music, which caused [people] to walk out and drink beer in a dark corner of our backyard. Some of them crying away their regrets. We'll definitely miss watching people walk out. As one police officer told us, 'It was the worst racket he's heard from half a street away.' We'll miss him too."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.

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