A while back, I went to a house show at the Lamont Street Collective in Mt. Pleasant. There I met Nick DePrey, the pianist for Baby Bry Bry and the Apologists and a well-known figure in the local DC music scene.
Nick co-founded Homestage, an organization that puts together concerts, among other events, in rowhouse living rooms. When he walked in to the Lamont Street Collective the first time I met him, he was greeted with shouts of “Nick! Nick!” He’s a mover and a shaker.
If you haven’t been to a Homestage show before, you need to go. They are always outstanding. Imagine cramming 60-80 people in a narrow living room, then inserting huge, concert-sized speakers, and shutting off the lights. Sometimes the bands that play are of similar, if largely undefinable genres. Sometimes they are quite opposite to each other. Once I saw a house show that started with a saxophonist leading us all in a conga line. It ended with electric dream pop marked with a very loud bass.
There is always a cacophony of colors, and sometimes there are Christmas lights.
These shows are incredible. They’re donation-based, feature local and independent musicians, and open to all. A paper sign on the front door usually indicates to enter around back. Everyone is young. Everyone is friendly. And the shows are guaranteed anchors to any epic weekend. I’ve never been to one that isn’t hands down phenomenal. It’s gotten to the point where it doesn’t matter what else I have planned for that night; if I hear about a house concert, I’ll drop everything and go.
Most if not all of Baby Bry Bry lives in the same house. Occasionally they throw parties and have concerts there. But this particular weekend they were at Paperhaus, a venue that gets its name from its resident band (or vice versa). Alex Tebeleff of Paperhaus (both band and venue) is a big proponent of Do It Yourself (DIY) and Do It Together (DIT) events, so it made sense that Baby Bry Bry would record in that particular rowhouse. (It also has a great stairway for watching the band from above.)
How many times in a lifetime does the average person get to attend a live album recording? Probably never. And to see his friends record an album? Equally unlikely.
So you can imagine the great privilege I felt two Saturdays ago when I was sitting on the stairway above the living room looking out over Baby Bry Bry tearing up the floor. There can be 50 people in the crowd or five people; it doesn’t matter. Baby Bry Bry (and all the other bands I’ve seen via Homestage) give it their all. These are true performers, entertainers. They put on a show.
Baby Bry Bry’s album will be released toward the end of the summer. Fans will be able to purchase the album song-by-song or in its entirety online. You should buy it, because the tracks are unusual, masterfully layered, and often thought-provoking in their lyrics. The sound will be intense, all-encompassing. Even on an iPod or computer, Baby Bry Bry surrounds you.
But even better than buying the album, you should go see the band. Or any Homestage show. Or all of them. You have never been to a show like this. It is magic. I challenge you to define the genre. You can’t. Why do you need to?
Just go and experience. All the colors. All the sounds.