I recall the first few house shows I attended with some real fondness. Small groups of friends all shared the same silly secret: a band was playing in someone’s basement. The covertness of it all, plus the constant fear of being ticketed with noise complaints, made for some thrills and a feeling that we were all doing something we shouldn’t. This weekend, I had the chance to relive some of those titillating feelings of excitation.
Friday afternoon, while wandering around at the university, I received a text message from a friend inviting me to watch his dad’s band practice.
Also, beer was involved.
What could be better? I agreed to join and was whisked away to the basement of a consulting firm in the downtown core. What I thought was a private jam turned out to be a full-on office party, where a band made up of engineers and architects were entertaining at a small staff function celebrating the end of the workweek. Bottles of beer and platters of food were scattered throughout the room. I tried to stifle my snickering as employees frowned at me with unfamiliarity, knowing that we weren’t really allowed to be there.
Uncapping a beer, I turned my attention to the band – a quintet, who played through a well-planned set of cover songs by Blue Rodeo, Neil Young, and The Beatles, amongst other well-known hits. The musicians smiled shyly at the friendly heckles from their co-workers, which were always followed by offers of more beer. As I chatted with the friend who brought me to the function, I began sneaking snacks from the table of food. Nobody said anything, or even really acknowledged me, which I took to mean I was allowed full admission to what was available, and grazed unashamedly before we decided to leave.
The following night, my band, Savs, was scheduled to play a mysterious house show in the Varsity View area. We arrived with three cars full of gear and unloaded our equipment into a backyard shed, which was slowly being warmed by a propane heater. After barely squeezing amplifiers and drums through the tiny door, I realized that we were the only band performing, and that we were playing a black metal-themed goodbye party.
Bearded men skulked around the yard adorned in sinister corpse paint, clutching cans of beer and fistfuls of cigarettes. Thankfully, they were friendly. As the night went on and the black and white face paint was passed around, other humanoid creatures appeared, including zombies, ICP members and kitty-cats.
Which led to some other feelings that we were all doing something we shouldn’t.