By Jackie Rodriguez
Imagine having your favorite band play right in the comfort of your own home. Sounds pretty cool, right? Many smaller bands have opted to perform at people’s homes instead of traditional venues for smaller, more intimate acoustic sets called house shows.
The audience for house shows are often much smaller due to the limited capacity. Tickets to these shows are not sold in advance but at the door. House shows were initially for artists to be able to earn some cash while on a bigger tour in order to help fund it. These shows bring a new kind of intimacy to concerts and allow for artists to have closer interactions with their fans. Most house concerts occur in average living rooms and are attended by people who want to be able to enjoy music in a more relaxed setting. They might sit three feet away from the artists, on the floor, or on chairs. Close proximity to the artists means that these shows would not be a good fit for shyer artists.
Alternative-pop band MILKK recently went on its second tour, many of which were house gigs (nine out of thirteen exactly). Performing mainly acoustic house show sets, lead singer Pat Kiloran said that the main reason why house shows are a key part of the band's ability to tour is because “house shows mainly are a financial choice. We charge a higher rate to do private shows, so it allows us to fund the rest of a tour. It also does allow for very personal interactions in a more relaxed environment.”
Although many people may wonder about the risks associated with performing in a strangers home, Kiloran claims that, “We just make sure to be as respectful and careful as possible whenever we do a house show.” Trust is necessary in this kind of event and the trust must go both ways. Safety should always be a priority for both the fans and the artist.
Other than the fact that a house show is a more intimate experience for both the performers and audience, there are some major differences when compared to a venue show. The artists usually have to set up all of their gear on their own rather than having a sound team like they would at a venue. This means that the musicians must arrive to the house earlier to get ready. Kiloran says that MILKK, “usually arrives an hour in advance to set up, then plays for 45 mins or so, and then hangs for an hour or two, sometimes more, just to spend time with fans.”
Although having a band play in your living room sounds like the best idea, it sometimes has its downsides. “You lose the mystique at a house show, which is good and bad. It breaks down the wall and allows you to spend more quality time with fans, but it also prevents you from creating the exact show experience that you want. House shows don’t allow you to express the full show experience, they can be awkward if people don’t know how to respond during [the] show, sometimes they can be uncomfortable depending on who is hosting the show, and sometimes there are very small amounts of people.”
When asked about the craziest thing that’s happened at a house show, Kiloran says that once he“stayed until 2 am [with the band] and got my hair bleached and dyed yellow outside by a fire pit. Also one time we didn’t know what the house looked like that we were playing at and pulled up and it was a mansion and the show turned into a dance party.” The possibilities on what can happen at a house show are endless. Even as MILKK continues to grow, they hope to continue doing house shows and encourage other smaller artists to do so too.
From the music to the interactions between artists and musicians, every music fan should experience a house show. Perhaps one day you can have your favorite musicians playing your favorite songs in your own home, and the legacy of house shows can live on.