The House Show Experience: Broadening Your Musical Horizons

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Graphics by Sam Goodman

By Sam Goodman

I have come to expect laughter when my, what some may call "tragic," music taste is revealed to a room.

Whitney, Britney, Madonna: In my opinion, there is nothing like the full-body shivers experienced at the first notes of “Toxic.” Basic? Perhaps. Gay? Absolutely. While my playlist may be somewhat limited, there's certainly no lack of alternative creators and their fans within the Boston area to help me amp up my tunes.

I was recently invited to a house show in Allston at a venue called Ted House. Confused? I was too.

What’s a house show? Where is Allston? Who’s Ted? As someone who has never been to a concert let alone a house show, this invite was received with curiosity and a fair amount of skepticism.

A house show is exactly what it sounds like— a band performs in the basement of a house for a group of rowdy onlookers. Ted House hosts weekly house shows for Boston’s underground scene. I boarded the T for Ted House with no idea of what lay ahead.

When we arrived at the show, there was a $5 cover fee and the lingering smell of pee.

As we descended into the basement, the narrow staircase vibrated with the rumbles of an electric guitar. Dim, blue lights impeded my vision as I turned the corner to see a smattering of teenagers, most of them in baggy blue jeans and muted band tees, waiting around for the first band to perform. Merchandise was being sold in the corner by mom’s washer/dryer. Stickers and wall art replaced family photos and memorabilia. These somewhat surprising and intriguing details seemed to be staples of Boston’s underground performance scene.

The first band to perform, Freaking, began their set spontaneously and quickly.

Eager fans crowded around and began bopping their heads to the beat. The sound, vaguely rock and vaguely punk, filled the entire space as listeners began dancing. Dancing devolved into shoving and eventually into moshing. An entirely new experience for me, the sweaty, primal, machismo energy that moshing entails was energy that I am not used to exerting while listening to music. There was also a fair amount of hair whipping, however quite distant from pony-whipping to the beat of Ariana Grande’s “Seven Rings.” This was more intense, aggressive.

Three other bands, Wax On, Perennial, and Salty Greyhound performed throughout the night, each with a unique style and sound. As the night wound down, we crept out and boarded the T home.

The Ted House experience, while entirely overwhelming, opened my eyes to a community and culture I had never encountered.

While I stomp to RuPaul’s “Supermodel,” fans and bands at Ted House mosh to Perennial’s “Hyppolita!” The music performed may not have been my favorite, but it seemed as though Ted House and its attendees have crafted a space where artists of all kinds can come and self-express in an open and honest way. For that, I applaud them.

Music as a cultural entity is incredibly diverse and expansive; there are too many styles and artists to count. Don’t let that range intimidate you. Embrace the unknown and dive into the endless possibilities it has to offer. Explore local artists in your area and experiment. Music has the ability to transport us to places we could never imagine.

And as Madonna always says, “Music makes the people come together."

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