Kung Foo Grip’s Greg Cypher (left) and F is H entertain the Old Fire House crowd at a 25th anniversary gig. Courtesy photo

Old Fire House 25th anniversary shows are a blazing success

Greg Cypher said he and F is H, who form the hip-hop duo Kung Foo Grip, “go just as hard as the rock bands.”

The 25-year-olds returned to their former stomping grounds for one of the Redmond Old Fire House Teen Center’s (OFH) 25th anniversary gigs held the weekend of Sept. 29-30.

More than 350 people attended the two shows at the spot, located at 16510 N.E. 79th St., which featured acoustic sets by Redmond High band The Velvet Mornings, Whitney Ballen and headliner Rocky Votolato and louder sets by LocoMotive, Kung Foo Grip, Triumph of Lethargy and headliner Naked Giants. The events also featured speakers, a timeline of OFH photos in the hallways, two teens’ artistic displays and photo booth-type snapshots by Hello There You.

“It was great to see all the people who we came up with,” said Cypher, who graduated from Redmond High and F is H is a grad of the Chrysalis School in Woodinville. “I won’t forget what they did for me. I probably wouldn’t have made it through high school without the Fire House.”

Added Rana Becker, OFH program coordinator who attended shows at the place as a teen: “It was so much fun. It’s always wonderful how every group of (teens) feels so strong and passionate. There’s always new energy, always new teens.”

She said that 25 years down the line, the OFH remains relevant. It’s a launching pad for teens choosing what they want to do, whether it’s music, art, politics, education, technology and more.

Kids that frequented the OFH in the early ‘90s until now “all lay claim to part of the Fire House history — it all belongs to them,” said Becker, who started out volunteering at shows and fell in love with her surroundings. She remains just as passionate about her work and what goes on within the OFH walls.

It’s a safe place for teens to get their footing in the world, she said. Becker tells kids that Modest Mouse didn’t play the OFH at the height of their popularity — they first took the stage as teens and grew from there.

“It’s a place to share their talent,” said Becker, adding that new bands might become the next Modest Mouse someday.

“Upcoming bands, that gives me the butterflies a little bit,” Cypher said.

Cypher and F is H, who now reside in Seattle, met as teenagers at a bus stop in Kirkland and soon began performing and recording together at the OFH. Cypher said the teen center was a crucial place to help them through their formative years.

“The Fire House was a place where you could go where you’re not gonna get bullied, not gonna get chastised for being black on the Eastside,” Cypher said. “It was like our escape. The one place we could go to where we felt accepted.”

As for hip-hop, Cypher said that Redmond and the Eastside get it, but they’re still catching up.

Cypher added that when Kung Foo Grip performs, he wants people to be blown away and know that guys from Redmond can deliver the goods.

Next up at the OFH:

Oct. 20 — 7 p.m.

Smuggling Croissants, Floral Tattoo and more

Oct. 21 — 7 p.m.:

Halloween concert with Gnarwals, Tambo, Splitting Silence and Sea

Nov 22 — 2 p.m.

Turkey Days with games, crafts, pie, presentations and more to get people in the Thanksgiving spirit.

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