Growing pool of Savannah musicians find homes in DIY house … – Savannah Morning News

Savannah’s music scene is having a bit of a post-pandemic renaissance. Since live music returned the city has seen an explosion of new bands and artists, and thanks to venues like El Rocko Lounge, The Sentient Bean, Lodge of Sorrows and The Wormhole, as well as promoters like Dog Days Presents, Aura Fest, and Coastal Rock Productions, local music has a lot of support.
However, it’s not nearly enough. There is a limit to how much these promoters and venues can do to accommodate the ever growing music community. It also doesn’t help that back in 2006, a city ordinance changed to no longer allowing patrons under 21 (but above 18) to enter bars featuring live music, further limiting the options college age people have to enjoy live music.
In recent months, Savannah has seen a growing community of DIY promoters finding space in neighborhood houses and non-traditional venues for under represented artists, or popular bands looking for new places to play.
Savannah Music in 2022:Festivals return, new can’t miss acts and venues shine
Get ready Savannah:Girlfriend From Hell is here and ready to riot
Savannah Music Festival leaders:2023 festival allows us to ‘celebrate music and be together’
One such promoter is Big Blue Booking who have been hosting “intimate lil house shows in homes around Savannah.” Big Blue have found homes for local bands like Bastardane, Small Talk, and Hott Goss, as well as for a number of out of town acts.
Alice Vengence and her tranicore punk trio band, Sissy Fists, have played a Big Blue show and were impressed by what they are accomplishing. “I’m really excited by Big Blue and the work they are doing because it also feels like a DIY thing, and I like to see other organizations like this popping up and fostering scenes in their own way, too,” said Alice.
One such organization is Alice’s own Sanitary Booking Collective which she founded with her friends Henry and Devon of Jus B. Separately, the trio had experience booking DIY shows, but it was when Alice saw one of Devon’s gigs at Savannah’s Traditional Barbershop, she recognized the potential for more non-traditional venue spaces.
“I was really inspired by the barbershop shows that were going on last year,” said Alice. “It really showed me that businesses could function as show spaces, too. That led to booking shows at the parking lot at the Diner on Abercorn.”
Sanitary Booking have also been booking shows at Ill Gifted, a parking garage normally used for repairing luxury cars. Escape Savannah has also become a popular space for DIY indie, punk and hardcore shows.
“We’ve had two shows there and both have been wonderful,” said Alice. “I’m glad that space is able to be utilized in that way, because I think they do a good job of keeping up the space and it’s cute in there.”
Wild and Vivid:Sophie Brochu’s Fauvely enters its Savannah phase
Most of Alice’s informal booking experience comes from out-of-town bands reaching out to her band on Instagram about playing shows together, but the system was not very efficient.
“I think a promoter/band relationship is an important one for a music scene to happen,” said Alice. “You can get more varied and distinct events going on. Then it also doesn’t rely on the popularity of a single band, but relies more on the efficiency of the promoter.”
DIY promoters often cannot stress enough the necessity for a DIY music scene to create a creative space for young people.
“I don’t always book all-ages shows, but it’s something I try to do,” said Henry. “If it’s between bar or a house venue, I’ll always pick the house venue unless the bar is the last place we can pick, because I feel like when I was most passionate music and most gung ho, and learning about music was when I was a teenager, and it would be silly for us to deny entry to people who are so passionate and are going to be booking their own shows and starting their own bands. Those people need to be inspired and have a place to go.”
“I think it’s important because it puts the power of the music scene in the hands of the people who are participating in it,” Alice added. “Then that way you don’t have to rely on sketchy promoters or people who you are not really sure of their motivations. I think a music scene is a community and should function like a community organization. Putting that behind DIY ethics puts the power into anybody’s hands to say, ‘Okay, I can make this show happen here with these bands,’ and all of a sudden there’s another show happening and there’s another space for people to form a community.”
Part of Sanitary Booking Collective’s mission is to offer a space for a diverse range of artists from under-represented parts of the music community, including BIPOC, Queer, disabled and other marginalized people.
“It feels like marginalized voices go unheard,” said Alice. “Especially as a trans woman I often feel like my art can be disregarded and labeled as trans music and I just want to provide some sort of alternative. Music is meant to be shared, it’s meant to enlighten folks, and it’s meant to change communities. There’s a lot of room for more of that in the city.”
Another new DIY booking collective is Aftermarket Party founded by Phil Wise and Brett Davis of the band Missing Parts. Aftermarket Party booked their first show in October at Three Points Foodcourt.
“We were trying to figure where to put together something with a few bands because we couldn’t figure anything else out around town, so we figured let’s make it happen ourselves,” said Brett.
More:Savannah sludge trio One Lonely Goat release debut EP, ‘A Cure For Self Worship’
As a gigging band Brett and Phil recognized the difficultly in booking shows, and the limited number of venues open to new bands. “There’s El Rocko, there used to be the Jinx, and there’s the places downtown that aren’t really friendly to original music that doesn’t already have an audience that’s tied to your name,” said Phil.
“There’s tons and tons of really awesome and unique artists in Savannah that are either playing other people’s music for money, because that’s how they’re making their living, but they do their own stuff that never gets heard. We wanted to give people a place to actually get heard for the stuff they’re doing.”
“And there aren’t enough spaces…It’s hard to get through” Brett added. “They have their people and run the same bands over and over again, so to get in there becomes a tough sell. We’re trying to cut through that, but also bring them together. Start to get them to interact with each other, because it’s strange how distant everyone is in town.”
Phil is already seeing the music community benefit from house shows, where artists who normally do their own solo projects are meeting like-minded musicians and becoming full-fledged bands.
“That’s another benefit of doing these house shows is they’re meeting people they wouldn’t meet without being put together, being around them, and having a place to exist,” said Phil.
Both Sanitary Booking and Aftermarket Party challenge stereotype of loud, raucous, property damaging punk shows that anger the neighbors. The shows tend to follow proper house show etiquette and are respectful to the neighbors and police, even when the bands are killing it in the living room.
“Everyone gets talked to and we make sure everyone is okay and knows us, so they can come over and say something if they want to,” said Phil. “It’s better to create a relationship there so that we don’t have the trouble that can come.”
Besides the traditional method of finding show fliers pinned up around the city, a great way to keep up on upcoming DIY shows is through the Instagram account @savannahshowfliers.
Big Blue, Aftermarket Party, and Sanitary Booking Collective all have a number of shows coming up in the coming months so keep up with them on @aftermarket_party, @bigblue.sav, and @sanitarycollective.