The concept of the house show carries with it a tremendously long and rich history dating back to forever the hell ago when the wealthy would invite performers into their front rooms and parlors to sing, dance and generally entertain. Granted, while venues, bars and other such public spaces usually tend to be the performer's first choice, there's a proud tradition of folks both young and old who decide to open their homes, basements and/or garages to the masses to produce/promote DIY musical events for little reason beyond that it's awesome. Santa Fe itself has boasted no small number of house show spaces from the legendary (and sadly defunct) Alamo and Castle Rock Skull—though the latter was technically a storage unit—to new and exciting domiciles like Radical Abacus.
"I think that house venues tend to start out more exclusive, so once you hear about it and start going you feel a little special," Megan Burns, formerly of homespun venue Meg's House says. "It's like getting into a club or a secret society."
Meg's House was founded in the basement of, well, Meg's house and filled an important void following the demise of the original Warehouse 21. There, the tenants played host to both touring and local bands and would often create memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences. And nary a violent or legal issue arose because, according to Burns, "Even the biggest wasteoids respect that it's someone's house and are kinder to the space and the people."
So cool, in fact, was the space that arts collective Meow Wolf can easily trace its roots back to the minimally excellent happenings inside that basement. These days, Meg's House is home to The Pig Pitt, unofficial HQ for up-and-coming metal act Sleeptaker.
"House shows are so cool because it's like music for the right reasons," tenant/Sleeptaker guitarist Alex Monasterio says. "It's not for money, it's for the sake of playing, and the room has been full every time we've played."
That's a lot more than most venues around here can say, and it's actually pretty neat that one house has facilitated two completely unrelated musical spaces.
But anyway, the list goes on! Just a short drive from The Pig Pitt you'll find the Pink Haüs, a small garage space run by Santa Fe University of Art and Design student/musician Caitlin Brothers.
"The best house shows I've ever been to have all been in Santa Fe," Brothers says. "Something about that sort of musical/social environment just vibes here, [and] the response gets better all the time…generally I can expect a decent crowd even on weeknights, and people have been more generous with the donations lately, so I've been able to give touring bands a lot more than I used to."
A little bit further down the road in the burgeoning Siler Road area sits Radical Abacus, a massive warehouse space that's actually attached to none other than the recently SFR-approved Dave Cave. Each serves different cross-sections of young music lovers, with the Dave Cave acting as host to the most brutal of metal bands while the relatively new Radical Abacus tends to err on the rock/indie/experimental side of things.
"Lots of people look around here and claim nothing is going on, but if you look into it and communicate, there really probably is something going on," David Ahern-Seronde of the Dave Cave says. "It's necessary to have house shows to keep the scene alive."
But if these places are so important, why aren't we printing addresses and phone numbers? Well, to put it simply, it would suck if these places were ruined for all by a small minority of jerks. Additionally, the ultimate legality of house shows is a murky area, and the last thing we need is to make things harder for these people who would welcome bands and fans with such open arms. The best thing one can do if they really want to be in the know is to start following these bands and people online. Hell, do a little detective work. And should you find these places and decide to get involved, do us all a favor and be cool…it'll totally be worth it.