How or where can I make my house concerts bigger?
September 28, 2012 12:21 PM   Subscribe

I host house concerts in San Diego. I need more space. Ideas?

I host monthly house concerts for audiences of about 24 people in my living room in Old Town San Diego.

We rent, the landlord is totally cool with us doing this, and we've had absolutely no complaints from the neighbors (one is even a regular attendee), but the shows are really are taking off. We need space for more like 50-60 people. How do we pull this off?

- we have a big backyard and could probably host 100 people, but if anyone complains about noise for any reason, we could be shut down. I can't afford to rent portable toilets, pay a band, take donations, etc, just to be shut down 10 minutes into a gig. Plus, weather is a factor. I don't want to go on hiatus in the rainy months and potentially lose our audience.

- we want to live in our "venue," rather than rent a separate space for shows. Couldn't afford it, for one. Plus, the focus is really on exceptional sound quality - we use tube amps, restored vintage speakers, etc - but we use also all the vintage gear on a daily basis at home. We want to keep the hauling of gear, setting up and tearing down to a minimum (reducing wear and tear on the equipment, and on ourselves!) We're totally cool with living in some sort of live/work or non-traditional warehouse-y type, thing so long as it has a full kitchen and two bathrooms - but finding such a place is tough!

- we also really want to stay roughly in our current area - Old Town, Mission Hills, North Park, Downtown, etc.

- difficulty: for $2000/mo or less.

It's a lot to ask. So far searches and want ads on Craigslist have come up dry, commercial/office realtors aren't interested, and live/work lofts look at you in horror when you tell them you have live music. Hoping the hive mind has some alternative ideas.

If you want to respond privately please use listen shows at gmail dot com. And thanks!
posted by anonymous to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I had a friend who lived in a studio underneath a church on near 10th and Broadway. The room was big enough to do what you want, but it only had one bathroom and I have no idea if the sound stuff would work out (probably not).

I think this was the space.

The other issue is that in the downtown area you mention it will be hard to do this outside without pissing off your neighbors, but hard to do it inside unless there's great soundproofing or your neighbors are super chill.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:26 PM on September 28, 2012

I was going to suggest the same building as Aizkolari. We probably know the same people. As I recall, their rent was in the $1600 range, but that was back in 2004 or so. The space was big enough that they could get an inflatable jumping thing in it for one party they had without having to do any serious moving of furniture. The neighbors at the time all seemed pretty cool, and I think just about all of them ended up coming to the parties my friends held, so noise wasn't really an issue for them, but I don't think they every tried live music (to my knowledge anyway). The parties that I've been to there generally had more than 20 people, probably more like 30 or more, but 50-60 would probably be a problem. Even if the basement studio isn't available, I think the whole building, which used to be a church, was converted to living spaces. Otherwise, I don't know of many spaces in town that either wouldn't be too industrial for you to live in or too residential to have concerts. It seems like the area you've limited yourself to has a pretty decent mix, with all the industrial space around Loma Portal and near the airport.

I can understand the hesitancy of landlords to what you're doing - you're walking a really fine line between just having parties at your place and doing something that requires a cabaret (or similar) license. It might be worth talking to people that are in the concert business in town - there's recently been a whole bunch of little venues that have started up and shut down for one reason or another. The only name I know is Tim Mays, who owns the Casbah and a couple other places in town.
posted by LionIndex at 1:18 PM on September 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yea, Tim Maze was the promoter for most of the best punk shows here back in the 80s. Considering how long he's been around I bet he knows some good spots or at least the best neighborhoods to check into.

The folks at ArtLab might be able to help too. They host some in house concerts and seem to get around so they might have some ideas.

Reaching back ten or so years, the last places I remember being very cool about stuff like this (in town and not at the beaches or east county) were in South Park in the parts where the back yards all face canyons and the areas surrounding Nile park for the same reason.

If I was doing this while trying to stay in-town, I'd do a search for mixed zoning areas where you might find a rental that is surrounded by businesses. Like University Heights, Normal Heights, parts of Adams Ave.

This isn't that big of a deal but probably requires some networking to find just the right place.

Best of luck to you and keep searching. FWIW, one of the last bands I was in had a practice/crash pad near 70th and university (small house big yard, small shows every Friday/Saturday night). We played constantly and very loudly and never saw one cop. You can do it!
posted by snsranch at 7:00 PM on September 28, 2012

North Park is going to be a tough fit. People who live in North Park/South Park are getting more and more cranky about noise and traffic from the bars. In the last few months I've seen a consistent increase in neighbors calling to get cars towed and calling police with noise complaints. Putting your concerts into this neighborhood is probably asking for hassle. University Heights, Hillcrest and Normal Heights are likely to be more flexible about it.
posted by 26.2 at 11:47 PM on September 28, 2012

Once you get to the point of having that many people in attendance, it's not a house party, it's a concert/show, and it gets a lot more complicated. You have to (and genuinely should) follow fire safety rules, may need security, parking, and, eventually, you're going to want to serve/sell some beer/wine, etc. A landlord with a clue will understand this and will not rent to you. Is there a venue that you could use on, say, Monday evenings? Is there living or office space adjacent? I'm suggesting you use an existing space. The other alternative is to continue your current plan, and accommodate extra people by having more grequest parties.
posted by theora55 at 5:46 AM on September 29, 2012

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