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Gigs in houses

January 10, 2012


Crap concert venues

I’ve always thought (but not necessarily very deeply) that most places I’ve seen live music were godawful holes, from the old Marquee Club in London where I saw a lot of progrock bands in the early 80s, which was a sticky-carpeted, cigarette-smoke filled, stinking hellfest, through to sterile, joy-killing monstrosities like the South Bank Centre, also in London, or the Fairfield Halls here in the Cronx. The smoking ban improved things a very small bit but the fact remains that most live music venues were never built for comfort or acoustics. Or humans. Most gigs are in pubs and clubs whose sole purpose is to part people from their money rather than to provide a beautiful environment for excellent musical entertainment.

Which is why many smaller artists now perform at house concerts. If you’ve not heard of these, they’re concerts – in a house. The clue is in the name. In some cases people sell tickets but many are free with a hat going around at the end for voluntary contributions. I’ve only been to one. It was amazing. The hosts had provided a stack of great food, there were about 30 or 40 people crammed in, the music was intense and intimate and there was a very full hat of cash at the end. The band most certainly got more money than they ever would in a crappy London pub or club where you pay to use the PA system.

At a house concert, the audience is there to hear your music and meet like-minded friends, not just to keep a venue’s beer-shifting quota up where the brewery is happy. It’s the way music was back in the days before recorded music became the norm. Certainly house gigs lend themselves to acoustic genres or to not-too-loud electric bands more than, say, very loud, neighbour-infuriating heavy metal bands, so maybe they’re not appropriate for all artists.

Electronic artists

I’m unaware of any full-on electronic artists doing small house gigs. Do you know of any? What did they do? How did it go down? If you know of any, please leave a comment. Thanks!

We like music

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2012 9:35 pm

    I have heard of these. Usually as some kind of prize given in a competition. Natty did some of these as part of his “pledge-financed” acoustic album. I’m not sure if Aruba Red was also involved.

    What I really should have had you guys come down and did a house gig at my old place. That would have been a night to remember!

    That said, I do have a strange fondness for some of the most spectular “dives” where I’ve really enjoyed some great concerts. The tiny space upstairs at a pub called “The Hope” in Brighton, springs to mind, which gets phenominally hot. I was sprayed by the sweat of the lead singer of the “Philadelphia Grand Jury” when he flung himself into the audience.

    Happy days, eh? You don’t get that at a house concert….. or do you?

  2. January 11, 2012 2:31 am

    Autorotation did a gig supporting Orbital in Brixton just around the time of the 2011 riots. I don’t think it was a house venue (I like the sound of that), maybe more a smallish venue akin to some you are describing. Not sure how it went for them but I like the band and they might be interested to read this blog, will send it to them.

  3. January 11, 2012 3:16 am

    This wasn’t a “house gig” per se, well, it was but it was a VERY important geezer’s house….. but I was working with a (prog-rock) band called Cathedral many years ago and somehow we arranged to do a gig in Rochester Cathedral….. the acoustics were amazing but took a little work at the sound desk. We managed to pull off a couple of nice smoke related visuals too, but the ambience was amazing……..

  4. January 11, 2012 10:08 am

    Our gig “supporting Orbital” (note the sarcastic quotation marks) was in an actual club of considerable size for London (capacity of about 300 people).

    We are very interested in doing house gigs as the pubs simply suck: drinks are too expensive, they usually smell of beer and piss, people are assholes, sound engineers are dicks and the promoters don’t promote – just gather the money and pay the artists the absolute minimum (including £0).

    I understand that there’s a network of artists and hosts in USA, but they’re mostly acoustic gigs. Haven’t heard of electronic shows.

    We did ask around (seeing that, really, we can plug into a house stereo – we can bring everything else), but no one offered anything, not even an opinion. Oh well. I guess it’s a no-go in London, considering how tiny our flats and houses are…

  5. January 11, 2012 12:27 pm

    We have the opportunity to play in the house where we saw the gig I referred to. I’ve said ‘no’ for the time being. Our concern is that we’re more bass/electronic than we have been in the past and therefore we’d be concerned that there wouldn’t be enough happening visually with ‘real’ instruments to keep people amused. Also, the hosts’ friends and likely attendees in the area are not quite our typical audience.
    However, I’m still very enthusiastic about the concept of non-traditional performance venues and somehow getting away from that scenario where it’s all about selling beer or something other than the music. House gigs have been very successful artistically and financially for many acts.

  6. January 11, 2012 12:44 pm

    Jane Siberry planned and went on a “House Tour” through Great Britain and parts of Europe, playing in the living rooms of her fans and their friends with her dog, in return
    for a place to stay at night, and perform in. It was reportedly an enlightening success.

    She put her complete back catalog of electronica online for free beforehand.

    Keep up the great work Vince.


  7. January 11, 2012 1:53 pm

    I think we should do it and work out how to make it fit with the venue

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