3: Venues and House Shows (Part 1 of 2)

By John Galubensky

Communities are established when a group of people share a common interest. This is found true in the local music scene here in Livingston County. But recently a feeling of competition was felt between the traditional venue concerts and house shows, both of which are trying to strengthen the same community. I never understood this, why two great resources for local musicians had to compete, why they couldn’t work together to help push the community forward?

The first venues that come to mind for anyone who has experienced local music in Livingston County would be The Howell Opera House, HPAC (Hartland Performing Arts Center), or for those who have been around longer: The Annex, and the Howell Recreation Center. We are very fortunate to have a well-established tradition when it comes to local music in the area. These venues have brought local bands out of the garage and put them on a stage that might not be the most conventional; but with each show the reputation grew.

No matter if it’s your first show, or you are an avid concert goer in the area, concerts at the Howell Opera House have an aura about them. Memories of fantastic album release shows by artists like La Dispute, emotional final shows by local favorites, and highly anticipated annual events like the Chris Nance Memorial Show and Night of Ridiculously Awesome Holiday Sweaters, have built a reputation that few can ignore. It’s not the most ideal venue; but it’s ours. It’s a place where friends are made, stories are shared, and where someone can come and feel accepted in a long standing community.

To local artists it’s an honor to play one of these venues. It’s a more professional setting that doesn’t feel too far from simply playing someone’s basement or garage for free. Many of the artists that play have seen friends and maybe even family members do it before them. The expectations are far greater, the room is far larger and puts more emphasis on the number of people attending than a basement show. But the excitement to play in a setting like this is something artists strive for when practicing. 

Why not celebrate both? Why not have a community where both can exist and help each other celebrate a unique scene that is not found in every city? I’m excited to read everyone’s comments on this and start some dialogue. I’m also excited to be a part of Urban Geographer and help give back to a community which has given me so much.

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