With a heavy heart, I was recently forced to close the influential DIY music venue that I had launched several months before. When it was shuttered, I expected to see a bevy of oral histories, think pieces, and documentaries about it, all praising my efforts as a hardscrabble impresario. But alas, no one seemed to care. This is an injustice! There was nothing like my venue. We didn’t even book bands—they just came and played. It was like Field of Dreams, if it took place in a decrepit carpet warehouse and there were no corrupt ghosts. It all started when I let my cousin Geoff’s Christian drone-metal band, Apotheosis, practice in a warehouse that my father’s carpet company barely used. Then the band started playing shows there. The rest is history. A history that apparently doesn’t even deserve a post from a mid-tier music blog.
Of course, the attention that I should’ve gotten would’ve been very unexpected, because I never planned on hosting bands at the warehouse. But once Apotheosis started buzzing in the Christian drone-metal community, tens of kids would show up with insatiable thirsts for ambient Jesus rock and energy drinks. Then Geoff’s secular tuba-driven side project, Ethics Probe, got off the ground, and the venue really started to pop off. A local paper ran a piece about the warehouse, and though it mostly covered the noise complaints, the writer did refer to us as “a haven for loud youths without even a vague idea of how tubas are supposed to be played.” I thought that was pretty punk rock. When forward-thinking bands heard that we were a welcoming place, they came down from the hills: Wine Pairings, the great pointillist-sadcore outfit, played a few of their early shows at the warehouse. A guitar virtuoso named Libido—who played too fast to be accompanied by other musicians or have a headstock on his guitar—set up one day and started shredding. I don’t know where he came from. He rarely spoke and was legally blind.
Then the lease was up on the warehouse, and I was informed that we would not be able to renew it because an edgy media conglomerate was buying the building and converting it into an expanded venue/gallery space/intern barracks. Unlike the edgy media conglomerate, my family doesn’t have secret ties to people who hide convoluted financial products under their top hats, so we couldn’t match the offer.
So I resigned myself to the end of our run and went all out in organizing several days of farewell shows to commemorate the warehouse. Like I said, before, the shows just happened—all I did was sell $5 shots of whiskey to the heathens and make sure no one puked on the carpets. But this time I put up posters and sent press releases to influential music websites. Somewhat appropriately, my promotional efforts backfired. Apotheosis and Ethics Probe refused to play, citing Geoff’s objections to outdoor advertising and computers. I hoped to get Wine Pairings to play, but they had broken up when one member of the band became sadder than the others. Only Libido performed at the farewell shows, and that may have been only because he doesn’t understand the concept of a performance. He just shreds constantly, regardless of whether or not people are watching.
Part of me understands why we didn’t get much attention from the press. Fringe members of hyped rap crews never came to the warehouse. There were no murals on the walls featuring ironic snow tigers. An emerging vodka brand never sponsored a music festival event there. It wasn’t that kind of place. There were always a lot of jittery Christian youths milling in between guys with ponytails who were there to see Libido. But that’s exactly why the warehouse should have been given its due—it was a unique scene. There should have been photo shoots for hip websites where I’m ambivalently holding a sousaphone in front of a bunch of carpets. But alas, all I have to remember the place is the collection of male hair ties that were left there.
When the edgy media company took over the warehouse, they coopted the DIY cachet that we built up. They booked Evangelical brass bands with ponytails. They even bought the carpets from us. We overcharged the shit out them, but still. I heard the other day that Libido played a show at the new venue, but that actually didn’t bother me. He knows not where he shreds.