With the rise of social media and connectedness culture, house concerts are becoming more and more common. Whether you’re hosting one of your favorite touring bands, or you’re setting up a local affair (maybe an open mic night or an acoustic battle of the bands,) a lot of fans are taking on the role of “venue” for underground artists.
So, in the interest of helping grassroots music thrive, here are some tips to help you host a spectacular event and make sure that everything goes off without a hitch.
1: Clear it with the neighbors first
If you live close enough to neighbors for the parking situation and the noise to affect them in any way, you’d best clear it with them first. Nothing ruins the evening faster than a noise complaint. It can help to butter them up with some cookies and invite them to attend if they want. If you’ll need more parking than the street around your house will accommodate, see if any of your neighbors are okay with designating some amount of their space for your guests.
Make sure you understand what your city’s noise restrictions are (some places state that there’s a noise curfew enforced after 10 p.m. or so) and try to work within that.
2: Set some rules with the band and broadcast them
When we have a group of our own friends over, we don’t feel the need to set up as many rules. Usually, we trust our friends to know what is and is not okay. And if it’s a crowd that you know and can control, there’s not as much risk of things getting ruined or problems arising.
However, your crowd of fellow fans don’t have that same connection with you. So set some specific ground rules (i.e. no drinking or smoking) and make sure that the band announces these rules.
3: Strip the room
This is a general good practice for all parties, but especially applicable for a living room concert. Even if you don’t think that the concert will get rowdy, there will be crowds of strangers, and that increases risk for accidents and things going missing. Clear more than feels natural. Side tables, lamps, knick knacks, and even stuff on the walls can just be clutter. Toss them into the bedrooms. Do what you can to establish a blank slate for your home.
4: Plan the Seating
Very few of us have seating to accommodate more than 20 people or so at a time in our house (and sometimes it’s much less than that!) The group that’ll come for a living room concert can very easily exceed that, so you’re going to have to make some plans for extra seating. Even after you’ve gotten creative with the piano bench, a storage box or two, and some oversized pillows and stepping stools, you’re going to need to plumb for more resources. Here are some ideas:
- Ask for help from friends, and ask other fans and attendees to bring their own seating.
- Use camp chairs.
- Plan out your space. Having people sit on the floor and others stand in the back will greatly reduce how much seating you need and increase how many people you can fit. However, if you don’t designate the space for each method ahead of time, people will make their own arrangements, and you could very well end up with people standing behind a chair towards the front, blocking anyone who wants to sit in a chair behind them.
- Consider renting chairs. Often, it’s cheaper than you think, starting at $2 per chair.
5: Consider fire regulations and risk
The most frequent complication for crowds in a small space is fire hazard. We all know that, but we’re usually unclear exactly what the hazard is and where it comes from. After all, no one will be playing with the burner in your kitchen, will they? (Hopefully not.) But fire risk can come from plenty of other things (read here for more information) and the complications aren’t just about the inside of your house. Sometimes they also have to do with utility vehicles’ access on the street. Keep fire lanes clear and make sure there’s enough parking.
Manage your exits in your home and make sure that with the additional people, there are also additional ways to exit quickly, instead of less. Consider what the possible exits are while you plan the layout for the stage and the merch table, if there will be one.
6: Go the extra mile
If you’re ready to do a little extra, consider having snacks and drinks available. You can bypass the complications of selling by simply putting out a jar where people can drop in one or two dollars for picking up a soda. The honor system usually works great. Are you a party planner who likes to make fun treats? Take a look at these refreshing drink ideas to go above and beyond and make a night that everyone will remember.