A true labor of love: the house show.
With the lack of a convenient and immediate all-ages music venue, DIY shows are a good alternative. Horror stories of cop raids and noise violations aside, house shows are a relatively affordable solution to add to the artistic enrichment of the town.
Most important is the music: House shows are an opportunity to give a spotlight to lesser-known bands that could benefit from an extra stop between the bigger cities on their tour. They are also a chance to support the local music scene by booking a band to open for the main act. With a noticeably smaller venue, house shows allow for a more intimate occasion to enjoy the music in lieu of an impersonal space or a bar setting.
“They bridge the gap between performer and audience,” said KDVS 90.3 FM DJ Elisa Hough.
If you decide to take on the role of host or hostess, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. Hough also shared a couple of helpful tips:
Be creative, whether it be in terms of coming up with innovative solutions to keep the damages and noise down (acoustic shows are easier to host and work best for those afraid of a noise violation) or coming up with an original name for your house (i.e. you probably aren’t the first person outside of Washington, DC to call your residence the White House).
Communication is key. If all you have to offer as a venue is a roomy living room and no equipment, make it clear to the band. Music over but you still have a few unwanted loiterers straggling about? Kick them out: be nice but firm. Or, if you’re an old softie like me, get someone else to do your dirty work.
Be courteous. Noise permits are hard to get a hold of in Davis – plus, you’re charged a non-refundable fee of $25 even if your application is denied. Anticipate any complaints: If you live in a residential area, give your neighbors a heads up in advance if you plan on hosting a show and be sure to let them know what time the music will end. Considering Davis is big on the whole student and local resident mingling (Neighbors‘ Night Out, anyone?), you might as well go the extra step and invite them to come and listen.
Extend the courtesy to the band as well. Most likely, they’ll need a cheap place to stay for the night. If they seem cool and non-creepy, let them crash at your place. If not, find affordable accommodations as an alternative.
Shit will happen. As with any situation when you open your home to friends and the occasional random stranger, expect that messes will be made and things will have to be cleaned up.
Of course, the host and audience relationship is a reciprocal one, and there are a couple of house rules (har har) that showgoers should abide by.
Remember that you’re a guest in someone’s home (or backyard). You may just know it as that one place that brought that one band that one time before you went to that one party, but someone actually lives there. Even though the hosts should expect it, don’t be that guy. Stay in the designated performance area and refrain from sifting through their kitchen cupboards, going through their mail and putting your dirty shoes on their couch.
Donate. Times are hard for everyone, my friends. If houses decide not to charge a cover at the door, be generous and chip in anyway. Two or three bucks can go a long way for the struggling artist who has to essentially fund their own tour – in other words, gas money is always appreciated.
Don’t overstay your welcome. Yes, house shows allow for hanging out with friends and meeting the band afterward, but if the host asks you to leave, say your farewell and clear out.
If all else fails – no house, no band, no interested parties – fret not: That’s why games like Rock Band were invented.
RACHEL FILIPINAS will soon host her own house show, starring herself. To be on the guest list, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.