Hey Hey Hey,
I’d like to begin by mentioning that earlier today I discovered how to time travel. It’s a complicated procedure, but it involves listening to The Prodigy’s “Fat of the Land“, and so far I’ve only figured out how to go to 1997 and back. There’s no time to explain anything else.
Alright, pop quiz hotshots. Which of the following is the best place to hear live music:
A) A nightclub that occasionally hosts live bands, where you can expect to see scantily clad ladies and men who look like they’re trying out for some sort of MMA league.
B) That dingy bar downtown where you’re afraid to touch anything or look at anyone the wrong way.
C) A massive stadium that normally hosts professional sporting events with teams like the Winnipeg Argocats or the Albuquerque Stinger Devil Fighters. Ok, you got me – I don’t “sport” very often.
D) Someone’s living room or backyard.
If you answered anything other than D, you’re incorrect and it’s time to take good hard look at every decision you’ve ever made in life. I’m gonna spell it out for you now why house concerts are the best way to hear and see live music.
Before I moved to Nelson, I hadn’t really experienced house concerts. I’m sure they happened in Victoria when I lived there, but I wasn’t hip to the underground scene. Nelson’s a lot smaller, has fewer venues and a had a great house concert circuit bolstered by a few dedicated and hard-working promoters. A couple weeks after moving there, I saw my first house concert featuring Scott Dunbar and Hilary Grist. It was an amazing night and I was instantly hooked. Here’s why:
1. House concerts are intimate. You’re right there up close to the artists, and the audiences are attentive, quiet and appreciative. People are there to see and hear great music, not to pick up or be picked up, not to get shitfaced, and not to be “seen”. They’re there to listen and watch. As a result, the interaction with the artists and their banter and storytelling is quite often a more prominent feature of the performance.
2. Most house concerts that I’ve been to have been BYOB. If you’re the parsimonious (See: cheap as all hell) type like me, you can appreciate the fact that you can visit a liquor store before the show, spend $10 on a 6er and save a lot of money over what you’d spend at a bar or club.
3. Meeting people at house concerts is easy. I think there’s more of a communal feeling at house concerts that isn’t present at other venues. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s related to point #2, but I feel like the mingling between performers or sets is filled with pleasant chats with your neighbours. Typically, when I’ve seen a good band at a bar and they’ve finished their set or are taking a break, the soundguy cranks up the house music to the point where screaming directly into someone’s earhole is the only way to be heard. No thanks. I’m deaf enough as it is, so any “conversations” that take place generally consist of me nodding with a weird contorted smile on my face.
4. You’re bound to discover some new talent at house concerts. These aren’t big names that are out there on the house concert circuit. They’re small-time musicians who you may not have heard of, but that doesn’t mean they’re not amazing songwriters, musicians, and performers. If you clicked on Scott Dunbar or Hilary Grist’s names above, you know what I’m talking about.
Granted, there are a few downsides to house concerts, like sometimes you’ve got to sit on a hard floor for 3 hours until it feels like your spine resembles a Mobius Strip, but if you plan ahead you can always BYOP (Bring Your Own Pillow) and plant your keister on that for the duration.
If you live in Canadadia, and you’re interested in attending a house concert, or even better yet, maybe you’ve got an amazing space and you’d like to host, then I suggest you check out the websites Homeroutes.ca or AcousticRoof.ca. Give one and try and you may find yourself addicted, I know I am.