The House Show Redefined

loud prog-rockers Farms host sleepover party shows

Trevor Kupfer, photos by Michael Bartsch

EVEN THE HOUSE CENTIPEDES WERE ROCKIN’! Farms rocks a basement full of people (with cotton balls in their ears) at a grillout sleepover house show last summer.

Eau Claire’s “house show” scene has typically been known as either: 1) basement concerts at a regular venue with tons of people in a small space listening to punk, hardcore, or thrash; 2) house shows at an irregular venue where attendees are a bit more spread out and indie bands play the living room or porch; 3) a small group of friends book a musician/band for a one-time mellow personal show.

That’s how we’ve come to know local house shows (which many of our sources said peaked in the early 2000s with a show almost every weekend). But prog-rockers Farms have changed the definition, and put forth a new unique spin on what it means to be a “house show.”

You may remember they organized a round robin show last fall at the Grand Little Theatre in which bands set up in opposite corners of the venue and alternated playing songs. Well the interactive antics of the duo, comprised of Ben Larson and Andy Todryk, also caught our attention for their house shows, which are more like theme party sleepovers (one was a potluck and another a grill-out).

The latest is a Nacho Cheese Party on May 8, where attendees are invited to enjoy the likes of Farms, Feathe, The Heart Pills, and Vacation Dad (Todryk’s side project), and bring along stuff to dip in the 20 pounds of nacho cheese they have on hand (maybe an exaggeration).

They usually invite about 200 people via Facebook, allow those people to invite friends, and see where it goes. Though relatively “insider” gatherings – that would make you feel awkward to attend if you don’t know someone who knows someone – Farms’ open-to-the-public shows are fast becoming a signature of the band (along with their infamous decibel level).

“It’s all really relaxed and casual. No one said ‘start playing now’ or ‘stop playing now,’ ” said Johanne Swanson, whose band Feathe has played at Farms’ venue, dubbed “Red Mountain,” and their drummer recently played one with The Michael Rambo Project. “I’m really excited to keep playing more of them.”