fishscales: House shows are reviving Corvallis weekends


Shane Lynette, Photographer

Oregon State University graduate and guitarist for The Yams Nick Batmale (left) and third year OSU music production student and bassist for The Yams Blac McEwen performing at a house show in Corvallis, Ore. in February. There are a couple house show venues in Corvallis, including Jugg House and iHop.

Brandt Bridges, Columnist

Editor’s Note: This column does not represent the opinion of The Daily Barometer. This column reflects the personal opinions of the writer.

Who knew Corvallis, Ore. had a music scene? To be honest, I didn’t think we could be a place where musicians could thrive. 

It’s not controversial to say that music careers will not be made in our city—but it seems like they are being born here every day.

Despite being one of few (the only) entertainment venues that are making sure we can be safe while we enjoy ourselves, local house shows are exploding all over Corvallis. House shows are small concerts (in musty and sweaty basements packed to the brim) that are held all over the city. 

We all know the OSU and Corvallis COVID-19 recommendations for bars, sporting events and parties: be vaccinated and wear a mask unless you don’t want to, or if you are in a seated position or if you have a beer in your hand. But believe it or not, unlike Oregon State football and basketball games where you seldom have to show a ticket let alone a vaccination card, house show venues actually make sure their attendees are vaccinated. The bare minimum never felt so rebellious. 

But in all reality it’s not rebellious, just thoughtful: Ricky Cerrato, an organizer who lives at the Jugg House, a local venue for house shows, explained to me that “house shows are about having fun, but not selfish fun.” 

“Our shows should never put anyone’s health/safety at risk, no matter how enjoyable they might be,” Cerrato said.  The taste of a group actually promoting fun and safe nights for the community instead of squeezing some profit sack is quite refreshing. 

Peyton Roberts, an organizer for another local music venue called iHop, also weighed in on  the role of health guidelines at shows during the pandemic. 

“I think there are some people in the community who find vaccine requirements somehow in opposition to the culture, which I find ridiculous… I want our shows to be a way for people to connect, with the music, with each other and with the artists,” Roberts said.

When you arrive at a house show, you first show proof of vaccination status at the door outside. Feeling assured that inside you can feel comfortable standing body to body, pressed between your best friends or complete strangers, what happens next is… well …something special to say the least. Personally, I leave (happily) with a week-long neck ache and looking like I fell into an industrial dishwasher. 

Even though house show venues like iHop and Jugg House have been assuring the safety of their attendees, the pandemic initially took its toll on the emerging scene. 

The pandemic actually crippled us badly, we had some awesome shows lined up with some awesome bands,” Cerrato said. “We wanted to follow the guidelines, so we completely stopped hosting until recently, now requiring ID and proof of vaccination. I should say that we are super happy to be back, we missed doing this a lot.”

Are we surprised that small organizations fronted the greatest losses during the pandemic? No, not at all, but we should be equally expectant that small venues like iHop and the Jugg House have adapted to the new circumstances quickly. 

Cerrato at the Jugg House spoke to me about how well the community and other house show venues have adapted to their COVID-19 protocol.

We are also really glad that other house venues share the same sentiment,” Cerrato said. “Which I think speaks volumes about the culture of the scene.”

Let’s be honest: if you’re not at a bar on a Saturday night in Corvallis, you’re at home (or bowling at the Memorial Union—riveting). Assuming the bars that let in underage people continue to close down, what can people do?

House shows provide a venue for everyone. But it’s more than that. House shows have an underground feeling (you are often literally jammed in some basement) and despite the fact that the culture seems to just be emerging in Corvallis, you feel swept up in a long tradition of underground music in alternative spaces.

“House shows are definitely a tradition in Corvallis,” Cerrato said. 

According to Cerrato, the Jugg House “entered the scene by being inspired by venues that were big at the time.” Cerrato told me, with a tone of pride I appreciate, they “do have big plans for the scene, so I guess you could call us pioneers.”

Roberts explained to me the space that house shows have provided for people.

 “I feel that without house shows we don’t allow many people who are interested, in not just the live music, but creative fields in general to get involved in the community,” Roberts said. “Many venues promote local artists of all media at shows, and give chances for people to connect to both the work and the creators.”

Squeezed between sweaty dancing people and deaf in one ear, you can be anybody at a house show, and it’s that kind of feeling that makes you feel like you. At least it does for me. So if you’re stiff with a briefcase up your ass, a red, white and blue striped tie dangling down from it, house shows are probably not for you. 

While house show venues like iHop and the Jugg House are providing opportunities for local bands, bars and pubs like Bombs Away Cafe consistently hold shows for local preformers. Even now, right now, I’m standing at the bar ordering a [insert non alcoholic beverage], listening to the crowd screaming behind me, and I know the city of Corvallis is alive. People are gathering, despite the barriers, and we’re thriving. We’re like those little radioactive lady bugs in Chernobyl; adapting in new, unexpected and beautiful ways.

Cerrato sums up the house show scene pretty well: “We are all about community. We live to foster an environment where there is good music and good people.”

Let me leave you with one recommendation: go see these local bands now (like the Deans, Onion Machine, Cum Rag, to name only a few), because you probably won’t be able to afford their headline tickets in a few years.

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