Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Scene is Actually Surviving?

May 1, 2008

The Scene is Actually Surviving?

Usually I use this column to complain about something that is wrong with the indie music scene. But this month I don’t have anything bad to complain about (well, actually, I could complain about a lot of things, but I’ll spare you for once). This month I’m actually happy about something that is happening in my scene: the resurgence of house shows.

I know it all depends on the scene (and local law enforcement) but in many places the house show is nothing more than a memory for some of the old-timers in the scene. Almost everyone in underground music knows the stories of the north Jersey house show scene that played host to the likes Boy Sets Fire, Deadguy and Snapcase. The same north Jersey scene gave birth to Thursday, My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday, believe it or not. The scene, based around shows that were hosted by teenagers in their parents’ basements, represented the grit that the underground scene is based around.

In a lot of places, especially on the east coast, house shows have died. Now this is not a result of kids being lazy, or band’s egos that won’t allow them to play small shows. It’s the police. Try to put four hardcore bands and a hundred kids into a basement in suburban central Jersey and the neighbors won’t be ignoring it like they used to. And while moving shows from houses to large(er) venues allows more kids to see shows, it detracts something from the experience when it’s one guy who is the promoter for every show in an area. It also raises the prices.

Last month I had the pleasure of attending my first house show in years. It was at the Campbell Club Co-op in Eugene, Oregon. The show was well organized, as responsibilities for the show were split between the members of the co-op and the sponsoring magazine The Oregon Voice (the rogue student-run publication on the campus of the University of Oregon that is also the most respectable publication on campus). The show truly gave me hope that underground is not dying.

Now, every time someone tells me that indie and hardcore kids are nothing but trouble, I can honestly say that it is a load of bull. Despite a security task force that consisted of two nineteen year old girls and me there were no problems during the show. Kids helped each other out; they stayed quiet on the porch and kept the cops from having any reason to stop the show. There were four hundred kids who actually cared enough to protect the scene and ensure that the show could continue. There are actually kids who care about underground music.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that there are hundreds of kids out there who actually care about music, but I was. And I am happy.

-Scott Landis

scott@independentclauses.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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