Decade of Dungeon

Eau Claire Mecca of basement punk turns ten

Trevor Kupfer, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Nate Sorenson shows off his basement venue, Nate’s Dungeon. Behind him, a collection of gig posters. In his left hand, the skull of Avril Lavigne (unconfirmed).

If you’ve been there, you know. The cut-and-paste Xerox posters. The spray painted sign at “the gate.” The police tape on the stairway. The skulls. The festive light show. The random band stickers. The busted ceiling tiles. The smell of beer, sweat, and basement. It’s the dungeon.

    It’s hard to believe Nate’s Dungeon is 10 years old, and even harder to believe it’s still going. I recently sat down with dungeon master Nate Sorenson to talk about the upcoming Decade of Dungeon show, and reflect on the life and times of Eau Claire’s infamous home of punk and metal.

The Dungeon started for the same reason it continues today. “There wasn’t anything like this going on around here,” Nate says. Though it wasn’t exactly planned out, either. Hardcore outfit Strychnine had a Minneapolis show fall through, and a bunch of teenage friends pulled together a few other bands and threw a show in Nate’s mom’s Eastside Hill basement.

“It just kept going from there,” Nate said, and with impromptu events and lost flyers it’s hard to say exactly how many times it has kept going, but Nate roughly guessed about 100 shows. They typically draw about 30 or 40 people, but have had a handful of shows with well over 70 in attendance.

“The pinnacle was about 2004-05,” he said. “We were having about two shows a month, and getting big turnouts; that’s when Silvering was getting big; Stones Throw was having all ages stuff; and there were other houses getting active.”

Nate is obviously the face of the outfit, but he’s had tons of help – from his mom, for putting up with it – and the guys in Amniotics and Dios Mio for booking, to name a few. “I germinated this little seed at the beginning, but they’ve helped it grow to the point where Eau Claire is a diamond in the rough.”

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