Posted by: Necci – Apr 23, 2012
After being left unsatisfied by Total Slacker’s performance, all was still well in Harrisonburg. Word of mouth had been growing since The Diamond Center performed earlier--a house show was being quietly assembled that would feature White Laces, The Snowy Owls, Hoop Dreams and Navi. With a lineup like this, one could only begin to imagine the excitement that percoated throughout the small town.
photo by PJ Sykes
As The Snowy Owls and I made our way to the house, one thing became very clear. There would be no middle ground for where this night was headed. It was either going to be an incredible showing of music and a great opportunity to see what the house show community had to offer in Harrisonburg, or it was going to completely fall apart. The groups of people milling around the house without much regard for keeping a low profile were telling. I’m pretty sure one of us even predicted that the police would probably be here in no time. Although that never happened, the rest of the evening definitely ran the spectrum from bizarre to awesome to interesting to frustrating.
The front porch would be our resting spot until word got back to us regarding the status of the show. With only whiskey to keep us warm, we remained there, eventually receiving news that the bill had been expanded to include eight bands. Several local groups had jumped on and were being continuously invited throughout the evening. I never caught word of who any of them were and it’s a shame. None of them were awful by any means. They ranged from surf rock to a heavier approach to the sort of indie rock that many of the Richmond bands on the bill were up to musically. Most of what I caught was through an outside window on the back patio. From this vantage point, you could catch a good glimpce of who was playing in the tiny confines of the basement. The space fit a very small group of people, and the bands playing had trouble keeping the PA monitors from collapsing mid-set.
The real issues were presented by the organizer of the house show, who was more interested in throwing a party than hosting a show. By adding so many Harrisonburg groups, he frustrated the out-of-town groups to the point that Hoop Dreams and The Snowy Owls ended up declining the invitations to perform. Navi were fortunate enough to play at a relatively early time, and it was great to catch another set by them. They are a formidable duo that is garnering rave reviews from their musical peers.
Following their set, more bands were invited on the bill. This is when things got pretty ridiculous. At one point, a guy decided to crowd-surf in the very shallow-ceilinged basement. If you have ever seen the first death sequence in the original Nightmare on Elm Street, it sort of looked like that. With only two feet of space between the ceiling and the audience, he found it difficult to enjoy the crowd-surfing experience. Thankfully he wasn’t terribly hurt, but out of the many years that I have been going out to see shows, I have never quite seen anything like that.
During one of the surf rock band’s sets, there was an instance where one of The Snowy Owls and myself were tucked by this backyard window once more. Smoking cigarettes and peering into the tiny space every once in a while, we were surprised by a girl rocking out so hard that she fell backwards into the windowpane. The impact was minimal and she appeared to be all right, considering she got right back up and continued to show her adoration of the band playing by bouncing about. As I looked at all of the broken glass on the ground, I couldn’t help but laugh. I was wondering what we could have possibly gotten ourselves into. It was at this moment, I think, that we both realized it was time to leave.
We rounded up the rest of The Snowy Owls, discussed the meet-up times for the following day’s performance and called it a night, though not before saying good night to a few of the White Laces camp and sharing a swig of whiskey with old friends from Navi, as well as new friends from Heavy Midgets. From what I’ve heard since, White Laces did eventually play at four in the morning after demanding that they play then or not at all. The lasting memory that came from the night was overhearing the organizer proclaiming that he didn’t care how many bands were set to play, he just wanted to party. We could all tell.
This isn’t a complete assessment of the after-parties and house shows that were happening throughout Harrisonburg over the weekend. Apparently on the same night, Nightmare Boyzzz were playing elsewhere, and there was a metal show happening at the Crayola House. It just so happened that I ended up at a show which, though it sounded promising, turned out to be a bust. It’s a shame that my friends didn’t get to play the show they initially hoped to play, but we all walked away with a bizarre tale of the way house shows can sometimes go terribly wrong.
By Shannon Cleary