Garage Productions
by Michelle Strauss Ohnstad

When I was seventeen years old, I was one of a small group that helped foster the DIY punk rock spirit in what was really the heyday of hardcore punk in the Midwest. Armed with our youth and an unbridled enthusiasm for punk rock, Garage Productions was born in a suburban living room.
Garage was an entity that set up all-ages shows with hardcore bands around Minneapolis during 1984 and 1985. Our legacy was rather short but our impact important. Even years later, I meet people who remember attending one or more of our shows. For some it was their first experience at a hardcore show, as the other all-ages venues in town were either gone or were booking only the larger acts (i.e. Black Flag, Minutemen). Garage would book any band that gave us a call or wrote a letter.

Half of us were still in high school or had just graduated. The rest were on their own, pursuing their education or simply working and living. We were broke, always in the hole, and in debt to the phone company and someone's savings account or parents – but we had a drive to keep moving, even when the chips were down.

Our first event was to hold a garage sale. We thought we could raise a bit of money to have some starting capital to leave deposits on halls and print flyers. One of our members hosted the sale in her Southwest Minneapolis garage and raised around $35 for an afternoon of effort. Hardly enough to get us started. Our first show was DRI and the Sluglords. We were most excited to have

a big hardcore band like DRI agree to do our first show. We thought it would send us off with a bang and set the tone for the rest of the summer. We rented a VFW hall in a then seedy neighborhood of South Minneapolis and set the date for what turned out to be a hot, muggy and sweaty slam-fest.

It was so hot that day – I remember Shannon Selberg (ex-singer for the Cows) showing up after his job as an ice-cream truck driver ready to see the show and ending up selling out his inventory between sets to the fans as well as to the neighborhood kids who showed up to stare at the weird looking punks who had invaded their turf.
Our roster of shows included Government Issue, Iron Cross, The Freeze, 7 Seconds, The Crucifucks, Corrosion Of Conformity, The Tar Babies, Stiff Legged Sheep, Raw Power (Italy), Riisteyet (Finland), Tales Of Terror, Meatjoy, Verbal Abuse, Mental Crisis and numerous local bands – Skull Fuck, Outcry, Heathen, Ground Zero, DKV, and others. The majority of our shows were at Whittier Park (a small City Of Minneapolis park building with a sympathetic director) and various VFW halls. 7 Seconds was held at a Catholic elementary school; Stiff Legged Sheep in the basement of a Garage member's house.
There were a lot of unexpected things that would happen at Garage shows. The guest list would grow incessantly, our volunteer security force would outnumber the crowd. The bands would be late. The rooms would get oppressively hot and