Yes. In the living room.
That’s a question that’s been coming up a lot when I explain this project. The answer, I think, is something we take for granted in the punk world: yes, in the living room.
House shows are a given in the punk world. Bands that operated on the fringes of any network of clubs created alternative venues in which to perform. The punk version of this type of space goes back to the mid-80s, but really, it’s no different from the classical salon. The idea was to allow bands to tour the United States as cheaply and efficiently as possible, and a network of group houses known for allowing bands to play– either in their living rooms or their basements, emerged. DC, New York, San Francisco, Columbia, Missouri– most cities have these types of residences-slash-performance spaces.
What makes Kansas House unique is that it served this purpose for nearly 20 years. Most punk houses are ephemeral in nature, on the brink of demolition. At Kansas, the average tenure was a few years, rather than months. Because of this, a band from anywhere in the country could call the house phone and inquire about playing a show, and chances are, they would be speaking to the same person who hosted them the last time. A house that started it’s existence as a home for a family of Greek immigrants ended up an incubator for a community of artists and musicians.
Most people who attend live music performances do so in proper venues, where the audience is separated from the performer by a distinct line, so it can be a bit hard to picture [fill in the name of your favorite performer here] standing mere feet away from you, in room probably the size of two or three office cubicles.
I think the punk kids take this answer for granted because it just seems obvious. It’s the solution to a problem– you need a place to play? Create your own. House shows were born out of necessity. They are put on by generous people who share their living space with a community. They remain, perhaps, the purest way to see and hear music performed.