House Shows Are Back: Underground RVA

by | Jun 8, 2010 | MUSIC

Craig Snow has lived in Richmond for most of his life. He’s played music around the city for much of the past decade, and he’s frequented all of the major venues. Lately, however, on account of the miserable state of the economy, and people’s wallets among other things, Craig has been promoting house shows under the name Underground RVA in an effort to keep the local music scene thriving and bring the community a little bit closer.

Craig Snow has lived in Richmond for most of his life. He’s played music around the city for much of the past decade, and he’s frequented all of the major venues. Lately, however, on account of the miserable state of the economy, and people’s wallets among other things, Craig has been promoting house shows under the name Underground RVA in an effort to keep the local music scene thriving and bring the community a little bit closer.

I got a chance to attend one of Craig’s shows in a basement off of Chamberlayne, dubbed Little Richard’s, this past weekend, where among others were Craig’s group, Barnaby Jones, and hardcore band Swamp Thing. Craig and I got a chance to talk after the show, and managed to arrange a short interview for a couple days after. Here’s how it went:

Me: So, how long have you been promoting house shows?

Craig: I have been booking house shows for the past 6 months. I guess you could call me a promoter, but there’s no money involved. I’ve been playing in the music scene in Richmond for years now, and we’d been playing in clubs for so long. When you play clubs, you have to sell tickets, deal with set-up times and stuff. We’d played Alley Katz, Canal Club, this place (Strange Matter) in all its iterations, we’ve even played parking lots all over the city. With house shows, there’s more of an ability to have a lot more fun, get your music out there, and meet a lot of people. It’s a more emotional side of gigging. There’s a huge difference between playing at a club versus a house show.

roberty nolley swamp thing 1

Me: Are you in a band?

Craig: I’m in a band called Barnaby Jones. We’ve been gigging since October, but we’ve been together as a band for about two and a half years now. We’re about to do a small tour, and then we’re gonna go into the studio for about two months, three months.

Me: Cool. You said there’s a big difference between playing clubs and playing house shows, how would you explain that?

Craig: I think it’s actually better as a band to start playing house shows in the beginning. It’s free, people are more willing to come, there’s no investment involved. Beyond that, there’s more of a connection at house shows. It takes all the flash out of it, there’s no stage, there’s no lights, there’s no security guy or anybody beatin’ you over the head. It’s way more open to the community.

Me: How many houses are you booking for right now?

Craig: Just two right now, the first one is this place a little North of Downtown, it’s called the Barn. There’s a huge half-pipe in it, and a bunch of kids all come down and skate it. That’s how this whole thing got started. The kids will be skating before we set up, we’ll play the show, and then kids will go back to skating. Our first show was Barnaby Jones and They Found Her In Pieces. Second, was the same two with Encourage. The third was Barnaby Jones, Gull, This Time its War, They Found Her In Pieces, and Iron Tusk, and that one got huge. About 120 kids showed up. We started it out playing gigs back to back, once a month, and it started getting big. It was after the third gig that I decided to pick it up and start doing it every other week.

drummer barnaby jones

Me: How about the other venue?

Craig: It’s called Little Richard’s, it’s over off of Chamberlayne. We had our first show there this past Friday. It was a couple of bands, including Barnaby Jones, They Found Her In Pieces, Postcards, and Swamp Thing. We probably had about sixty kids show up, it got pretty sticky, pretty cramped, but no one got hurt, it was a lot of fun.

Me: How do you get word out?

Craig: Right now it’s been mainly through the internet and word of mouth. Facebook has revolutionized the house party. I’ll drop flyers off at Vinyl Conflict and pretty much anywhere that’s willing to take a flyer. It’s been blowing up though, I’ve been getting emails left and right from bands from out of state trying to book shows. Our first out of state band is playing tomorrow (Tuesday, June 7) at Little Richard’s, it’s this ambient indie-metal band called Inaeona.

nolley swamp thing

Me: Seems like there were a lot of really young kids at the Swamp Thing show. Is that what it’s normally like?

Craig: No, I was really surprised actually, it’s usually older kids. It was weird seeing kids with braces and stuff at our shows, but whatever. I mean, I think it’s cool that younger kids show up as long as they’re careful. It’s definitely not cool if they’re trying to drink or use drugs at our shows, thinking they can get away with that, but then again there’s a lot of kids that are straight-edge these days and I think that’s great. I think part of it was Swamp Thing, because while hardcore has an older, more mature following, there’s also a much younger following associated with it too, which is cool. We’ve had all kinds of people show up to our shows. We’ve had bikers, we’ve had old folks, so far the community’s been pretty supportive.

Me: How have the cops been?

Craig: The cops have been actually really supportive, which is really strange. We’ve only had the cops called like twice. There was this one guy, he was really just a grouch, man, we always make sure we end the show no later than 9:30, we’re always trying to be really open to the community, and this one guy, he really didn’t like it, so he tried to get us shut down. The cops showed up around 9, and they actually told us to finish the show and not worry about it. They calmed the guy down and let us do our thing; they were supportive. One cop actually said he felt like us being there was driving an overall positive presence into the community. He was saying us being there was actually pushing some of the negative influence, drugs and what not, out of the community.

random band singer

Me: Any goals for the future?

Craig: Well, this whole thing just kinda happened. I think my longterm goal is to get more people to let us play in their basements or garages or whatever, and maybe get a better PA to use at each show. My major long term goal is to keep it going and to keep it fun. Or to get Lamb of God down there. If I could get GWAR, Lamb of God, or Municipal Waste to play one of our shows, I think I’d feel like I’d accomplished some kind of major long term goal or something, haha.

Me: Anything else to say?

Craig: I don’t know man, it’s all about the good times. Lately I’ve been a little lazy, but if you’re in any kind of band, metal, hardcore, punk, rap, whatever, the best way to get in touch with me and book a show is the Barnaby Jones myspace page. Any type of bands, and you want to book a house show, get in touch with me and we’ll book it, we’ll get it done.

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.

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