With new semester, new basements

Theo Dennis of tiny rainbows took the stage at The Nest, located on Diamond Street, Saturday, Aug. 16. | Aaron Windhorst TTN
Theo Dennis of tiny rainbows took the stage at The Nest, located on Diamond Street, Saturday, Aug. 16. | Aaron Windhorst TTN

Philadelphia has no shortage of big-name music venues, especially with well-known, signed artists playing in the city nearly every night. What is less obvious, but equally vibrant, is the thriving community of house venues in the city.

North Philadelphia plays host to an active basement scene, with house venues run by Temple students and community members alike. The start of the 2015-16 school year comes with new show houses and the return of old favorites.

For K. C. Raniero, a sophomore communication studies major, opening the doors to a house venue means two things: they are one step closer to realizing a dream and they are creating a safe place for people from all walks of life.

The Hippie Dust Den will open its doors for the first time Aug. 31 as a venue to celebrate diversity and showcase music of all genres.

“I have a dream of someday opening a vegan coffee shop that supports local music, and I felt like moving into a show house could be an awesome way to kickstart that dream,” Raniero said.

The Hippie Dust Den will also strive to be a place where students who do not drink can enjoy a party environment without alcohol.

Raniero is straight edge, which means they do not consume drugs or alcohol, and said they noticed there were few environments for people who wanted to go to a party but did not want to drink.

“I felt a need for a place where the pressure was off with the whole alcohol and drugs thing, and where kids who didn’t feel like drinking could just come hang out and party without being the only sober kid there,” Raniero said.

Being the lone member of their musical project, Folk by Default, also inspired Raniero to open the Hippie Dust Den. Raniero will play at their house and meet other musicians playing there.

Raniero plans to book shows of all genres because of their experiences feeling like the odd performer for playing solo with only keys or ukulele.

“I’m trying to create the type of venue where you won’t stick out for being a pop-punk band, but you also won’t stick out for being a solo artist with a uke or a guitar or whatever else,” Raniero said.

Several venues which hosted shows last year—including the Petting Zoo and the Nest—will continue operating.

Joey DeMedio will be taking over booking for the coming year at The Nest, after moving in this year.

He said he and his roommate had been to shows there before.

“When the former owner … asked us to take it over this year, we were very excited,” DeMedio said.

DeMedio said The Nest had already felt like home after attending shows there regularly over the past year, so the transition feels right.

Jordy Cordner, who performs under the name Jordy Lyric, said that while she will miss The Nest’s previous owners, she is excited for the new year with DeMedio.

“I hope that the new Nest is as accepting, fun and altogether as great of a place as the old one,” Cordner, an undeclared freshman, said.

DeMedio said though he is excited to host shows at The Nest, it will be a challenge to continue the quality of shows that have taken place under the house’s previous owner, Kevin Brusha.

“Kevin [Brusha] set a precedent of having so many good shows consistently and I need to try and continue that,” DeMedio said.

DeMedio’s main concerns are people getting hurt at his house or things being stolen from The Nest.

Brian Walker of A Day Without Love agreed that oftentimes there is a lack of professionalism at house venues but said in the end there is “nothing like a basement.”

Vince Bellino can be reached at vince.bellino@temple.edu.

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