Flint Local 432 Turns 30

Madeline Ciak

Flint Local 432, a substance-free music venue which is located in the heart of downtown Flint, was founded by Joel Rash 30 years ago, and a celebration was  held at the Flint Farmers Market Saturday, Oct. 3.
The celebration will featured culinary delights from a wide array of chefs from Michigan and all over the United States.
Recognizing a need and running with a dream did not only lead to the creation of Flint Local 432, but is what ultimately led to the substance-free music venue’s sustainability.
During the late ’80s, many bands primarily played in the bars in downtown Flint, which posed as a problem for Rash and his friends because they were underage.
“I remember having to get bad fake i.d. cards not to drink, but to be able to go into a bar and listen to the bands,” said Rash.
So, making the best out of an otherwise bad situation, Rash began hunting for other venues to watch bands and play music at, and is what exposed him to the hall show music scene, which is where many younger students wanting to perform punk and garage rock bands played their music. Bands would typically rent out a hall at a church or a building and lug their instruments and sound systems in and play music, but the catch was that no alcohol or illegal substances could be served.
Being exposed to the hall show music scene is what led Rash and a few of his friends to setting up a performance at UM-Flint’s brewery, which is now known as the Happenings room on the first floor of the UCEN.
“We booked the room with the help of the UM-Flint History Club because they were a student organization,” said Rash.
The Guilty Bystanders were the first band to perform on campus, and their performance went on without a hitch. Around 150 students packed into the Happenings Room to catch the performance.
“The performance wasn’t a major disaster, but security was kept busy since they had to chase illegal skateboarders off campus,” said Rash.
The Guilty Bystanders’ performance was a major turning point for Rash and his friends because they wanted to find a more permanent location to hold performances, and their need is what led them to playing at the Capital Theater in Flint, which proved to be a more flexible location and helped their line-up evolve from monthly shows to holding weekly performances. This schedule continued into late 2000.
In 2012, Rash and his crew were able to relocate to the building at 124 W. First Street, which is now Flint Local 432’s location thanks to the help of the C.F. Mott Foundation and Uptown Development Group.
“Moving into the building was sort of like starting from scratch,” said Rash.
While Flint Local 432 still remains a substance-free music venue, it provides students and residents of Flint with a wide range of opportunities. Not only can a person go to Flint Local 432 to watch a band, but if they go upstairs above the stage, they have the ability to check out programs that organizations such as Red Ink Flint, Flint City Pop-Up and the Stem Works maker’s space have to offer.
Flint Local 432 club manager Sara Johnson believes that is it important to have a substance-free music venue in Flint.
“While there are other venues that do allow people to enjoy substances while seeing a show, a person can be more focused on supporting musicians and actually listening and enjoying music rather than getting rowdy,” said Johnson.
Johnson adds that Flint Local 432 gives performers and fans a better environment to interact with one another.
“It’s cool to be surrounded by other people that share similar interests and to be able to bond with people because of that,” said Johnson.