For this particular indie rock
fan, a house show is the best venue for appreciating a band live. Packed like sardines into a smoky basement, drinking an illicit 22 of mickey's
, straining to see over the head of the guy in front of you -- it's as good as it gets. The sound might suck, but you're 5 feet from the band, and if they suck, you can go upstairs and watch Dead Alive
in the living room.
The pretension of the rock star can't exist when you're at a house show. No backstage, no green room, no guarantee... The suck-ups at a house show are honest suck-ups, and that means something.
None of the awful trappings of the arena show -- the lines, the pat downs, the overpriced beverages and t-shirts... No stupid light shows. Just 30 kids and a nervous band doing their best to make the kids happy.
A lot of the best shows I've ever been to have been house shows. I saw Karp in a basement at the Lucky 7 house in Olympia and I thought i was going to pass out from happiness and hot air and heavy growling bass... Sleater-Kinney, Lync, Dub Narcotic, a host of long lost out of town bands. Kids who have grown up in a big city where there aren't basements to have basement shows in don't know what they're missing. The truth is that I would rather see a good band in a basement than a great band in a stadium.
The criticisms of house shows certainly have meritt. They're exclusive -- they don't usually get widely advertised. They're not, ultimately, the best way for a band to even make gas money, though a vastly higher percentage of the door money makes it to the band than in a normal venue. But they are a much purer form of musical expression than the latest Limp Bizkit tour...