By Christopher Woodford
I was invited to a punk house show over the weekend on Saturday, the kind where you have to know somebody to get in or just know where it is. The location is at somebody’s house, so we’ll just call it the “Haus” for reference. House shows are not uncommon in Pittsburgh. They happen quite frequently for a variety of reasons, such as a means to tighten bonds amongst bands and fans or make sure all the money made at the door goes directly to the bands.
In any case, punk house shows have been some of the best in Pittsburgh, in my humble opinion. Usually it’s the same group of dedicated people that gather each time for these shows. So often it’s a great time and I’ve met some amazing friends through these kinds of concerts.
This past Saturday I saw Ratface in their natural habitat, at the Haus. They are crusty, rotten, and the flag bearers of the current Pittsburgh underground punk scene. The band members frequently organize house shows in the area and have brought in a caravan of bands. The Body, Nothing Is Over, some Finish punk bands whose names I’ve forgotten, and many others have played the basement of the Haus.
Derketa, Pittsburgh first all-female member death-doom metal band, played the Haus with Ratface over the weekend. Just these two bands, nobody else. To me, this was mind-blowing. Derketa started up around the late 80’s when metal was an all boys club. Now Derketa has pulled themselves back together and are making huge waves, even if the band is only 3/4 female now. But, still, a formidable group that has change our local scene.
So why all the fuss? Well it was a goddamn awesome show, that’s why. A turnout of old and younger metalheads and punks alike showed up and rocked the Haus. Both groups packed the downstairs and made a ton of noise. Ratface busted down the door and Derketa devoured everybody inside.
This show in particular is a huge statement of our current music scene. Crossover shows are not uncommon, correct, but we, Pittsburgh, are currently on the upswing right now for metal and punk. Each side has gone through the rough times of the 90’s and experienced resurgence during the 00’s. What can be seen now is a dedicated following of fans and musicians looking to pull the scenes up by the bootstraps. Getting together, having a couple of brews, and treating everyone like your brother and sister.
The point to be had here is that more of house shows need to happen in order to keep the scene healthy. They don’t be held frequently, once a week or a month would be enough. Yes there is a certain “club house” feel and at the same time limiting the audience size, but that’s the point. Reward those dedicated to the music that want something more intimate; something more physical and loving. Treat those who come out every week to concerts and support the local scene.