How to Throw a Kickass House Show Without Going to Jail or Destroying Your Home Part 1
Throwing numerous concerts in the confines of my home has taught me many lessons about what makes a DIY concert work
Organizing and producing a house show seems like a tall order to outside unfamiliar with the experience. The act of turning your property into a temporary venue for live music is an ambitious prospect, one that requires a fair amount of forethought and planning.
From someone who has been through the gauntlet, I can tell you this: it's a daunting, jittery ride full of so many 'what ifs' you'll enter a slight state of paranoia, unsure if you've truly covered all of the essentials.
But it's also not as crazy or stressful as you think it will be. In fact, it's possibly one of the most enjoyable events a person can throw at their house.
This assumes you've covered your bases
Events involve a degree of chaos and unpredictability which can overwhelm your thought process if you allow it to. Swarms of unruly humans wrecking your house, angry neighbors notifying the authorities, or weather whipping your poor event into oblivion are a few of the thoughts which may swirl through your mind at any given time.
There are numerous ways your house show can become derailed and end up resembling a mini-Fyre Fest instead of your own personal Coachella.
Without a doubt, the best remedy for unforeseen circumstances comes in the form of a thorough plan and a flexible mindset. You can't possibly prepare for everything, but you can sure as hell try to cover every possible base before your show takes place.
And, perhaps just as importantly, you should take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that flexibility in the face of unplanned incidents is crucial to a smooth show. Before diving into the home-concert business, here are a few fundamentals to be aware of.
1. Notify the neighbors
Before you start bouncing band combinations around your brain and begin to think of the perfect lineup for your show, start with an absolute essential logistical element: notifying the neighbors. If you're going to have a house show in an environment that isn't completely soundproof (highly unlikely), it's critical to let your neighbors know what is about to take place.
An unexpected blast of sound can often elicit an immediate call-the-police response from the more uptight residents nearby. However, an honest attempt to communicate your plans, including contact info to preempt a call to the authorities, can be enough to prevent a visit from the boys in blue.
On top of informing your neighbors of the event, consider inviting them over to enjoy the festivities, as you may discover the quiet house kiddie-corner to yours is actually really into live music and are about to become huge fans of your friend's band. Our first house show, our neighbor across the street stopped by on a whim and enjoyed the festivities.
In fact, he ended up pulling his food truck into our driveway for the next show, a huge benefit for both community involvement and keeping the masses' buzz properly balanced. Which brings us to another important point...
2. Consider your food situation
If you're providing beer at your house show, you may want to think about a way for people to stay on site without leaving for takeout and inevitably never returning. If you know someone who has a food truck or simply know someone who is interested in selling their culinary creations, consider having them onsite for your event.
If your event is a relatively short show and you aren't providing alcoholic beverages, a food vendor may not be worth your time. However, if you're throwing a show that will stretch out for a good portion of the day/evening, it's worth thinking about a food solution for your show.
Food served on-site provides you with several benefits. First, it will keep famished guests from leaving the premises, ensuring your musical acts don't lose half the audience to hunger pains. It will also provide a much-needed method for balancing booze consumption, which will be critical if your event lasts longer than two to three hours.
You certainly don't want hoards of inebriated attendees creating havoc for you and your neighbors. And if anything were to happen as a result of an individual driving home drunk from your event, you may end up becoming liable. Encourage Uber/Lyft as much as possible and offer your space as a pass-out spot for fare-resistant folks.
3. Consider the weather
If your house show is taking place in your backyard or a spot which may be affected by inclement weather conditions, consider ways to remedy the situation as much as possible. The stage for our house venue is in our garage, with the driveway being the primary viewing location. We've dealt with various types of weather-related obstacles, though thankfully mother nature has mostly been kind to us during the four shows we've done.
At our most recent event, the day before rained hard for an extended period of time. Because our yard is mostly dirt, this lead to serious concerns about our property turning into a muddy mess, both inside and out. In a stroke of ingenuity, I grabbed every tarp available in our garage and laid them out over all of our yard.
Instead of soaking into the ground, the water pooled onto the tarps, which we then were able to carefully carry to dump on the driveway. This MacGyver-like solution saved our party from becoming a replay of Woodstock 94, where intense rains cultivated an impromptu mud-people culture (though, to be fair, I'd take that over the Woodstock 99 chaos any day).
During another show, the weather called for low-90s and sunny, which could have made the experience of standing in a driveway in the mid-day Colorado sun akin to a slow-cook. We provided as much cover as possible, in addition to stringing up a couple $15 misters from Ace Hardware. Thankfully, we received more cloud cover than anticipated, but the misters were a great way to provide a cooling spot and added to the atmosphere of the event in the process.
Weather can wreck your event, making the act of finding a backup solution to the worst-case scenario a necessity. Having a plan in place will reduce panic and provide an added layer of calm to what would otherwise be a chaotic situation.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I discuss what is undoubtedly the most essential element of any show: the artists and the audience
All uncredited pictures from pixabay.com or my personal account
If you received value from this post, I would gratefully appreciate your upvote
My Latest Posts
- What I've Learned in My First Year Producing Events Part 3: Preparation and Faith
- What I’ve Learned in My First Year Producing Events Part 2: Burdens and Blessings as Both Producer and Host
- What I've Learned in My First Year Producing Events Part 1: Unexpected Beginnings
- The Value of Silence in Conversation
- Using Upwork to Earn a Living as Freelance Writer: Part 2