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Davis, California

Monday, May 20, 2024

KDVS transforms living rooms into music venues

It’s a Thursday night in Davis and there is nothing to do.

Or is there?

According to Simi Sohota, senior molecular and cellular biology major and recording label director for KDVS 90.3 FM, there is live music somewhere in the Davis area just about every day.

“A lot of people claim that Davis is a boring town, and I think they are totally crazy because they just don’t know,” he said. “There’s so much going on all the time, and KDVS is what makes it happen.”

Every week, KDVS takes over Davis homes and equips them with sound systems, musicians and show goers. And contrary to what some may think, KDVS doesn’t only bring in small, local bands – just last week KDVS brought groups hailing from Italy, Canada, New York, Texas and Detroit.

All KDVS house shows are free for the public and bands are compensated with donations.

“Davis has built a reputation,” said Sharmi Basu, senior political science major and publicity director. “Bands that normally wouldn’t come to small towns will come to Davis because they know they will be well received here.”

While KDVS used to browse musicians’ Myspace pages to find gaps in bands’ tour dates in order to set up shows, bands now typically seek out KDVS.

Bands either contact KDVS simply because of the pull of the radio station or through networking with other bands or KDVS staff, Sohota said.

“A lot of bands in Davis and Sacramento have built relationships with bands in other cities and then contact each other when they need a show,” he said.

House shows can draw anywhere from 10 to 100 people, Sohota said. It can vary based on the popularity of the bands, whether there are other music events at the same time and the performance night in relation to the quarter system.

Some students, however, feel that KDVS house shows can be alienating.

“Let’s be honest, [KDVS has] their own community and it’s hard to get into that community without being really awkward,” said Brittany Hirsch, a first-year international relations major.

Sohota admitted that it could be difficult for show goers to get comfortable at first, but maintained that KDVS staff tries to be welcoming.

“It takes some courage going to someone’s house that they don’t know,” he said. “Whenever I host shows I try pretty hard to introduce myself to unfamiliar faces. We try really hard to build friendships through house shows.”

Basu said that people should go to house shows for the music, and the awkwardness felt by some is no different than if they were to go to a random person’s house party.

Even so, Hirsch said the overall environment is still important to whether or not someone will go to a show.

“I’ll go for the music, but for a lot of people the atmosphere of a place is going to determine where they are going and what they are doing,” she said. “In order to expand their audience, they’re going to need to find somewhere that’s easily accessible and more open.”

Hirsch wishes KDVS had a regular music venue or one specific, established house.

KDVS used to utilize two different music venues on a regular basis – Fools Foundation in Sacramento, which used to put on KDVS punk and rock shows, and the Delta of Venus, which put on folk and acoustic shows.

After Fools Foundation closed in 2007, KDVS tried to book all of their shows at the Delta of Venus. Since the Delta of Venus is not conducive to hard rock shows, the café slowly stopped hosting most KDVS events.

“Every time a new venue happens, everyone gets really excited and we book a lot of shows, and then the venue just gets burnt out,” Sohota said.

Sohota prefers the house show rotation. It’s easier to make friends and house owners can have barbeques or potlucks associated with the show.

There is not an established list of houses that have shows every year, but KDVS core staff members will usually use their own houses for shows and dance parties and then try to pass the houses down to younger KDVS staff members.

KDVS cannot have just one house for shows due to the inconvenience it may bring neighbors. Thus, the various houses each usually host shows about once a month, Sohota said.

Bands will not get turned away due to their sound or popularity, Sohota said. But sometimes KDVS will have to reject bands if there are other shows scheduled at the same time or if they cannot find an open house.

In the past, KDVS has also had to turn down bands that were too hardcore for available houses or were expecting too large of a turnout.

“Sometimes we can’t accommodate,” Basu said. “House shows can only take so much.”

Look for upcoming KDVS shows on undietacos.org or on the KDVS events Facebook page.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.


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