Edinboro underground: the rebirth of the local alternative scene

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, April 12th, 2017 at 9:31 PM

There used to be a place in Edinboro where some of the biggest bands in the alternative scene would stop on tour.

The Hangout was once the place to go when you didn’t have anything to do and wanted to see a show. Rumor has it, the now-defunct band The Audition played a show there and it inspired a song, the aptly titled “Edinboro.” After housing bands like Midtown, Bayside, Punchline and Every Time I Die for over a decade, The Hangout closed its doors in 2011 due to vandalism to the venue, as stated in a blog post by Erie Shows on Jan. 14, 2011. The show planned for the following February with Hawthorne Heights was canceled, and Edinboro lost The Hangout for good.

You’d never guess that five years later, Edinboro would become home to an emerging underground scene. Thanks to a few Edinboro students and their basement, locals once again have a cheap hangout option complete with loud music and the opportunity to shove each other around in the dark.

If you walk out the front doors of Compton Hall, turn right down Normal Street, then left down Ontario, you’d never guess there was a house with a basement full of kids and rock bands. That is unless you’ve spotted a van or two parked on the street or in the driveway and knew which house you were looking at, you’d never be able to tell the difference between the faint sounds of a house show or a regular Friday night house party.

Senior forensic psychology major Braden Docherty is to thank for that. Docherty, along with friends Alex Marvin, Brandon Pappalardo, Joe Lynch and Gene Baritot — all students at Edinboro — began planning house shows last year, though Docherty has three years of booking under his belt.

“The very first house show was actually a celebration of Krampus Day around winter time,” said Docherty.

“I remember spending the majority of the day decorating and setting up with Gene and then having all our friends over to listen to music. It wasn’t a burn the house down kind of show, but everybody enjoyed themselves and it was a very relaxing time.”

While it can prove to be a tough task to put a show on, Docherty says his friends all do a significant amount of work, which makes it easier for everyone. “I owe a lot of gratitude to Joe. He always comes early and helps me clean/set up the basement and runs our door so I can make sure the show is running smoothly,” said Docherty. “All three of these guys are stellar people and do a lot to help ease the stress of the shows.”

Docherty credits the beginning of their underground adventures to Baritot and their old apartment. “I’ve always enjoyed putting together shows and Gene suggested we do acoustic shows in my living room. We made a makeshift stage out of a coffee table and TV stand and Tommy Lipo, the drummer of Mallory Run, would lend us his PA system,” said Docherty. “Once I moved out of the apartment and into my house, I realized I could start putting together full band shows in the basement. Our first show in my new house was the weekend before school started and had Bonfires, Fossil Youth, The Weekend Classic, Living Means and Mallory Run.”

When it comes to picking and booking bands, Docherty says it can come down to a matter of timing and accommodations.

“Sometimes we have bands who hit us up and ask if they can book the basement or we follow bands tour routes and try to find off dates that are close to Edinboro and book them,” said Docherty. “A lot of bands are a lot more willing to work with you if you offer them couches to sleep on and food to eat.”

Whether it’s 40 people or 140 people crammed into Docherty and company’s basement, safety has never been a concern to him, though the shows can get a bit rough sometimes. According to Docherty, the only hesitation or restriction that has ever come about while planning a show has been guaranteeing the safety of attendees and respect of his house mates.

He hopes that those who attend the shows get a sense of appreciation for the music the bands play and for the chance to experience live music in that setting. “Most of your favorite bands started in a basement, a garage, or some other DIY venue,” said Docherty.

Booking the shows has not always been as easy as making phone calls and sending emails. On occasion, Docherty has had to deal with bands backing out and failure to come through on the end of a band’s management.

“I had a show booked with a plethora of bands whose manager had asked me to book it. Almost all of the bands dropped off the show last minute,” said Docherty. “I had to scramble to find people to play. The one band kept telling me they were on their way until 30 minutes before load in time they said they hadn’t even left. That show still ended up being a great time and Mallory Run headlined.”

Docherty cites Marvin as a big player in the booking aspect of his house shows, going as far as crediting Marvin for the recent show booked with Ohio natives Light Years. “(Alex) goes to shows, talks to band members and always brings up how we do house shows,” said Docherty. “The reason Light Years played a show in the basement is because of him.”

Docherty says that same show was his favorite so far. “The house was packed, all the bands killed their sets, and Mallory Run almost tore the house down,” he said. “I am almost positive a microphone broke in half during their set.”

No strangers to the Edinboro community, Mallory Run can always be found at Docherty’s house shows. The band — consisting of Dan McClune (vocals), Tommy Lipo (drums), John Krasinski (not that one, he plays guitar), Joe Kotala (guitar) and Albert Kotala (bass) — recently signed with Wilhelm Records and is on the verge on releasing a new EP.

During the filming of their episode of Spectator Music’s “Live From Studio B,” McClune stated that getting the band signed to Wilhelm came from sending the label a direct message on Twitter.

“Our first release was kind of like ‘okay, it’s pretty gritty. I like it,’ we got a lot of Balance and Composure (comparison). That was the name most dropped when people said ‘oh, you sounds like (them),’” said McClune. “I’m interested to see what this next one brings because I think it’ll kind of, not define us, but let us know what kind of track we’re on.”

While still figuring out what the process of recording with a label is like, McClune noted that Wilhelm’s willingness to be upfront about it was what got Mallory Run to an agreement with them. “Dylan — the guy who runs the label — is so upfront about everything, any little question we have,” said McClune. “Even if it makes us sound like we don’t know anything, he’ll answer it for us and he gets it, he knows how a DIY band works.”

“I’m still not sure,” joked Joe Kotala. “We recorded this release with Matt Very in Pittsburgh and it was just an incredible experience. He’s really talented and it was just awesome, everything about it.”

Influenced by bands like Tiny Moving Parts and The Wonder Years, Mallory Run began making music in 2012. The band boasts an already credible gig history, including having played with alternative scene giants Every Time I Die and We Came As Romans.

“We Came As Romans came to Erie in August and we sold a bunch of tickets. We were on right before the tour package and Basement Transmissions was just loaded with kids,” said Krasinski. “From the stage to the door it was just packed with people and we played a 45-minute set. That was the biggest show I’ve ever played,” said Krasinski. “The crowd response alone was just incredible.”

In five years, Krasinski would like to see the band touring, playing shows and working on moving up in the alternative music scene, while Joe Kotala just wants to “keep writing cool stuff.” Mallory Run’s next big adventure is a show with The Devil Wears Prada on May 8. You can catch their full episode of “Live From Studio B” at edinboronow.com.

Kimberly Firestine can be reached at musics.spectator@gmail.com. 

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