Michael Phillips (Escapist Records, former Scene Point Blank editor and writer of 500+ reviews)
SPB: Basements, bars, or both?
Phillips: Bar shows verses basement shows has been a long running debate in the DIY community. And while I have yet to ever skip a show because of location - heck, I have even been to a show at a log cabin - I would have to say between the two options given I would have to give the victory to basements.
There is just something about the intimacy of being packed into an enclosed space of a basement, where the intensity of the band’s performance is concentrated by the limited space. The same can be said for all house shows, living rooms shouldn’t be excluded from this discussion. Sure, it may me hot and sweaty or even stink, but those are all things you should expect when attending a “punk” show. If you don’t want your shoes getting scuffed and your perfect hair disheveled, then stay home.
I can no longer count the number of basement shows I’ve attended in my hometown and abroad, but I certainly find myself reminiscing about these shows, oftentimes as they are among the first shows that established acts played when they first hit the road. I recall seeing artists such as Into It. Over It., Daylight, Now Now, and many more at It’s A Kling Thing! House in Akron, OH prior to playing the much larger venues they are frequenting these days. These spaces have brought local and touring acts into their homes and created a blossoming scene around them. The basement shows I’ve attended have primarily acted on a donation-based system, which one might feel would hinder the touring artist playing these spots. But when you’ve got a close-knit community that supports these house/basement ventures, its patrons are surprisingly more giving to provide [support].
So the next time the opportunity presents itself to you to see a basement/house show I highly suggest you venture to the space. While I won’t say you wouldn’t enjoy that same show at a bar/venue, I will say you may find yourself enjoying it more and creating a memory you’ll cherish forever.