Skelletones: Rebirth of a revered Grand Rapids all-ages club

The “Comeback Road” series partnership between the Destination Live Music and Local Spins video team continues with a fresh look at the reopening of Skelletones and its owners.

A Place to Belong: Skelletones offers this for young bands and fans. (Photo / target live music)

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Last year, Local Spins partnered with Destination Live Music’s video team to focus on West Michigan concert venues that are dealing with the COVID pandemic and working to bring live shows back. Grand Rapids’ all ages Skelletones reopened in September after being closed for 12 years. The video team visited the club for an update. Scroll down for video.

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When Mark “Mirf” Leech and his wife Annette decided after 12 years to reopen the Skelletones for all ages in Grand Rapids, they weren’t sure if the young fans, supportive atmosphere and magic would return.

After about 10 weeks it is clear that everything has happened.

“It was worth seeing a combination of old faces and news faces,” said Leech during an interview for the latest installation in the video series “Destination Live Music: Comeback Road”.

“If we can give young people – especially between 14 and 19 – a place to belong, to practice their craft, to feel safe, that is an asset for us.”

Mark leeches

Annette Leech, who first helped launch Skelletones in 1999, says she is “really encouraged” to see the teen interactions at the renovated club on S. Division Ave. 133 has been seen since reopening in September.

“That feeling and that spirit is still there with Skelletones,” she tells interviewer Michael Whitenack.

With a long list of young punk, hardcore, metal and indie rock bands every Friday and Saturday night, Skelletones has quickly become a magnet for teenagers who previously didn’t have their own music hangout. Check out the upcoming show schedule here, including the all-day Sweat Fest on December 4th with 16 bands.

Even parents hugged the musical hangout. “As a parent, I feel so good looking around,” says Angela Stanford-Butler. “It seems very safe and it’s so inviting because there is a diverse audience out there.”

With the word of mouth and the return of the crowds, Leech is hoping Skelletones could be set for another 10-year run.

“Everyone should come out and support this place,” says the young musician and patron Dom Hart. “It’s great what you are doing here.”

VIDEO: Skelletones (Destination Live Music: Comeback Road)
Video by David Darling and Michael Whitenack

Read more about skeletons:

Skelletones for all age groups will be reopened, the house will rock and “reminisce about”

Skelletones reopens with hardcore “Blitz in a Bottle”

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