Mallory Run headlines energetic house show

Category:  Music
Thursday, January 31st, 2019 at 5:04 PM
Mallory Run headlines energetic house show by Livia Homerski
Photo: Livia Homerski

I clambered down the steps into the infamous White House basement (not the presidential residence, but the home to college-aged tenants year after year on Ontario Street here in Edinboro). It only took me three years, but I finally made it to my first house show. On Friday, Jan. 26, starting around 7:30 p.m., Kill the Clock, Deadfall, Light Years, and Edinboro’s Mallory Run packed into the Christmas-light-lit basement to jam with a few dozen or so punk rock aficionados. 

For those who don’t know what a house show is, it’s an independently organized and small concert, typically played in a basement or house. The word is spread through social media or word of mouth, and you pay a small fee of typically $10 or less at the door. The experience is often more intimate than a concert at a bar or venue, as the band is set up on the floor with everyone else and the crowd can get as close as they want. 

The first band of the evening to play was Kill the Clock. I met Kill the Clock as I was walking down the street about an hour before the show started, their BIC lighters throwing flames on the frozen lock of the equipment trailer. Despite being from upstate New York, I don’t think they were quite ready for Edinboro’s icy antics. The band found out about the show when Mallory Run played with them on their kickoff tour in Buffalo on Jan. 4. 

Deadfall followed Kill the Clock, and when I asked vocalist Jake Gambatese how Deadfall found out about the show, he brought up his connection with the bands and the scene: “We’ve been really good friends with Mallory Run for a really long time; we’ve toured together. Light Years have always been friends with us — we’re kind of OGs of the scene, so it’s cool to play a show with homies.”

Ohio pop-punk veterans Light Years played the third set of the night. They have been a band for roughly 10 years now and have played shows with Mallory Run before. It was very cool to see such an established band, who has played with essential pop-punk acts such as Citizen, Neck Deep, State Champs and Four Year Strong, come to a basement in Edinboro to rock out. 

And finally, Mallory Run finished off the night with an energetic set and even played a new song. The band has been doing house shows on and off again for the past two or three years. Vocalist Dan McClune stated, “I used to have buddies here awhile ago, and we used to do shows when they lived there. The guys that currently live here went to those shows, and they contacted us to keep it going.” 

As I got to chat with three of the four bands, I asked them what house shows are like from the band’s perspective. Each venue is different and comes with its own set of challenges, such as setup and atmosphere, so I wanted to know their take on the best and worst of house show gigs. 

For Mallory Run’s McClune, he believes that: “there’s a certain genuineness to it. Like, you go to a show at a venue, and it’s not exactly uptight, but you’re not as much in your comfort zone there. A house show is just a party — in that everyone’s here to have a good time. Even the bands we contact [to play] are like, ‘Sure, pay us whatever,’ and we just charge money to help them as much as we can.”

According to Kill the Clock bassist John Vaughn, the best part of a house show is: “the intimacy for sure. Three of the four of us held house shows in our college town [SUNY Fredonia] for a few years, so house shows are nothing new to us. I also like the no rules thing, where you can do whatever you want and have fun with it.” 

However, the intimacy and no rules aspect also has a downside, which is the danger of having your gear trampled on or the cops called. “That’s the only bummer: people go a little too crazy and things can get out of hand. Plus, there’s always the possibility of it getting busted, but that’s the rush,” said Vaughn.

Kill the Clock drummer Mike Tomasulo added: “It’s way more personable. I can step away from the mic and talk to somebody in the crowd, or make jokes about things. At a venue, you’re there to shut up, get through your set, because they’re on a super strict time schedule. A house show is much more go with the flow.” 

When asked the same question, Gambatese of Deadfall stated: “Honestly, the thing that sucks is that you’re never going to get that live club sound. But the awesome thing about house shows — and why I almost prefer house shows to bar shows — is that it’s way more personable. I mean, look at what we’re doing right now. It’s cool that we get to be more involved.” 

Lastly, I asked the house show vets what advice they would give to bands interested in playing house gigs. Vaughn said, “Play it like it’s your last gig ever and you’re just going to have as much fun as you possibly can.” 

McClune stated: “Rent a PA because you can’t hear yourself ever. When you play in a basement, it’s just whatever equipment the band has and it’s usually not as good as a venue’s equipment. It’s just an adjustment.” This could be considered a downside, but McClune also loves playing in basements because it offers a different kind of sound experience: “A lot of times — for the style we have — we say we sound best in a basement because the low end on our stuff is so heavy that it just reverberates and sounds awesome. You kind of lose that sometimes when you’re all mic’d up on a stage.” 

I have to agree with McClune—the music sounded fantastic and the energy was great. Despite leaving sweaty and with some bruises from being knocked around on the edges of the mosh pit, I had a fantastic time and can’t wait to catch word of the next White House show.

Livia Homerski | ae.spectator@gmail.com

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