January 26, 2011

House Concerts in DC

Public Shows in Private Homes?

In the age of couch surfing with strangers, house concerts certainly sound like a great idea.  I'm not talking house parties at the outskirts of college campuses; I'm talking homegrown house shows that are virtually indistinguishable, through a basic internet search, from small venue/bar concert listings.  We recently came across a Freedy Johnston show at the Tree House in Takoma Park, and were lucky enough to score a couple of tickets to the sold-out show.  But, we wondered, what is the Tree House exactly?  

It's indeed someone's house: Pete and Anne's to be exact.  Things are BYOB/S(nacks).  Your ticket is a personal email.  Your money lines the pockets of the artists or cause-related beneficiaries, and no one else.  Dancing on the porch and deck are encouraged.

Why would anyone open their home to potential destruction by strangers?  It seems once you go house concert, you never go back--organizers Pete and Matt both attribute the roots of the Tree House to their experiences at house shows elsewhere.

The benefits of hosting a home show include being a part of the crowd, says Matt, "We thought we'd enjoy seeing the bands play in Pete's living room but we didn't know how much we'd enjoy the crowd... it has been wonderful to get to know our neighbors in this way."  And a more obvious perk: "It is nice, I have to admit though, to have the music come to us."  They don't worry too much about their wood floors ending up covered in beer, either, even though about 50% of the crowd are strangers.  Says Pete, "We're more worried about everyone having a good time and the performers getting all of their needs met."  Performers that included Marah, Hoots and Hellmouth, and Cary Hudson in the "venue's" inaugural season.

"We've been amazed and grateful for the positive reception we've gotten from the bands, managers and bookers," notes Matt. "Our ace in the hole a great setting (thanks to Pete and Anne) and Takoma fans who love music."

These folks aren't the first; in fact in 2008 the Going out Gurus did a whole article on the death of the city's best house venue.  New York Times profiled these type of shows in 1999.

Whether or not this trend is on the way up or out (it's the former in my opinion of today's DIY culture), it's become a fascination.

Where else can we see house shows in DC?  Leave suggestions in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. Do house concerts run into an issue with sound ordinances? This sounds like an awesome time. Maybe Pete and Anne can share some tips on how this flies in their neighborhood...