How to Throw a Kickass House Show Without Going to Jail or Destroying Your Home Part 2
A great show is only as good as the people in attendance
Undoubtedly, there are many moving parts and elements to consider in the course of putting a show together. Putting together a successful event with a properly-curated flow demands forethought and the right amount of networking needed to carry it out.
Transforming your abode into a temporary, foe-professional music venue not only requires having permission from the neighbors and the appropriate space to pull it off; before you can even think about having an epic happening at your home, you need the most essential part of any event: people.
The bands, the audience they bring, and your close friends are the glue of all shows
Perhaps it's a bit obvious and redundant to state, but it bears repeating: a show is only as good as the people who are there. You may have the perfect stage setup, an amazing sound system, and agreeable neighbors, but it's worthless if the people attending/playing are shitheads with unresolved emotional issues which they're totally keen to unleash on your event if the moment strikes their fancy.
I say this with all seriousness, as I was at a house show where someone threw a bottle at the band and resulted in a bloody, dramatic mess. It was an emotional, heated clusterfuck. Definitely not the type of vibe you'd ever want to attempt to curate.
Any time large amounts of people congregate in a small space, you're inviting chaos into your space, a fact I've detailed in a previous series detailing my experience producing events. You want these moving parts to be mostly working in harmony together, with a minimum amount of dissonance and friction to keep things interesting.
1. Book talented, respectful artists
If you've made the decision to start booking acts, you're probably bouncing a few bills around your brain, imagining the best possible flow for the day's festivities. The benefit of hosting a house show is that you get to decide who will play, for how long, and in what order, assuming the artists are interested in playing your space to begin with.
But this responsibility also means you should seriously consider who you invite into your home, as an unruly crew can spell theft, conflict, and other unwanted incidents. Although the vast majority of artists and audience members will be respectful, decent human beings, there are a select few scumbags who are all-too-happy to take advantage of any situation.
A friend's band lost most of their gear when playing a house show, victim to theft, most likely by an invited guest of a band or another member of the audience. This unfortunate reality is always something to be mindful of when hosting a house show, as this type of incident can ruin your event and even the possibility of any future shows.
Again, most artists (much like humans) are generally respectful people who will honor your space and be grateful that you've offered it up as a spot to play. But it never hurts to be slightly cautious to avoid any nightmare scenarios.
2. Cultivate a welcoming vibe
Hosting a show, you're inevitably inviting tons of new people into your home, both in the audience and on stage. Keeping an open, welcoming, relatively flexible attitude in relation to your guests is crucial to creating a warm and fun environment. Bands will want to work with you again, and their fans will want to come back for future shows regardless of who is playing.
Much like how a great bar staff at a proper music venue can cultivate an environment that adds to the overall experience, how you treat your artists and attendees is the foundation for how your crowd will respond to each other and the event as a whole.
Part of this equation can mean proper communication with the bands about load-in and set times, assisting/directing the setup upon arrival, and informing acts of what to expect as far as equipment and sound are concerned.
It can also mean promoting the event correctly (don't blast out your address on social media flyers), offering the correct elements to your guests such as water, seating, and well-thought-out decorations. The small things will begin to add up in relation to the whole, ensuring your event and home will be associated with an incredible level of hospitality.
3. Build a bill that flows smoothly and makes sense
A crucial component of your event's success lies in the way in which you build and arrange the lineup. As the impresario of the evening, you need to have both an eye and ear for what type of artists will work well with one another and in what order.
You may be able to pull off both an indie-folk, singer-songwriter in the same bill as an electronic artist and a heavy rock band, but this all comes down to how you structure the flow of the evening. For instance, maybe you have a few solo-acoustic acts to start, followed by a full-band, followed by the electronic act.
We like to throw all-day affairs at our venue, meaning we'll tend to have around 6-7 acts play throughout the course of the day. I'll usually have two solo acts start the day, followed by a full band, then another solo act, and finishing off with three full bands to cap our mini, DIY backyard festival.
During these events, I'll also MC the madness, ensuring the event has an added level of continuity and vibe curation. It had been years since I had taken the stage in any capacity (I used to do standup) prior to hosting events, and I was admittedly nervous for the first few shows.
But it's this part of curating events that I greatly enjoy and look forward to, as it's an opportunity to provide context and commentary to the overall experience. If you're hosting a smaller show, you may not feel the need to jump on the mic and announce the acts, but it's an element (if done well) which can provide an additional layer of curation that will be appreciated by both the audience and the performers.
All uncredited pictures from pixabay.com or my personal account
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