The Taxpayers at the Failing House. Not pictured, the neighbors clutching their hands over their ears.
  • The Taxpayers at the Failing House. Not pictured, the neighbors clutching their hands over their ears.

Have you heard of house shows? Me neither. But get this, they are rock and/or roll concerts that occur within a residential domicile. Crazy, right? The Oregonian's Anna Griffin dedicated her column last Thursday to this musical menace.

Gas up the Out of Touch Mobile, it's time to go for a ride.

"I definitely did this sort of thing when I was younger," said Mark Berrettini, an associate professor of theater arts at Portland State and a Substation neighbor. "But we didn't have the police called on us, and we didn't live in a neighborhood like this — a residential neighborhood where people with full-time jobs live with their small children."

This kind of complaint is becoming all-too-common to Portland regulators. They say a rising music scene and a sinking economy have combined to trigger a leap in home-based clubs serving young music lovers and infuriating nearby homeowners. Along with the Substation, Northeast Portland boasts "The Chicken Ranch," "The Bath House," "The Farm House" and "Fleetwood Shac," all houses in quiet residential neighborhoods billed as potential concert venues on local music websites.

Won't someone please think of the children? Actually, Mr. Berrettini, where did you do " this sort of thing" back in your spry days as a youngster? In space? Under the sea? House shows tend to occur where houses are built, which is in neighborhoods—neighborhoods with houses. That's sort of how it works.

Like Berrettini, I feel very middle-aged complaining about home concerts.

As you should.

After all, a vibrant underground music scene is part of that funky, weird, DIY ethos we Portlanders hold so dear. Yet house parties and home concerts violate city and state policies — not to mention a certain common courtesy.

Have you seen my Subaru Impreza with the "Keep Portland Weird... Unless Your Weirdness Violates City Code and Fails to Have the Proper Permits" bumpersticker?

You can't run a business out of your house without the appropriate permits, can't sell liquor without proper licenses and aren't supposed to make any noise in your house after 10 p.m. that can be heard in a neighbor's home. Also, you shouldn't be a thoughtless jerk.

They don't run a business or sell liquor, what is your source for this? Especially the "sell liquor" line. Before Griffin accuses someone of doing something illegal, like slinging booze for cash in their home, she should probably reference a source. Even a fake journalist like myself with a mailorder journalism degree from Northwestern (School of VCR Repair in Bogota Columbia) knows this.

Griffin could have figured that out if she talked to anyone—literally, anyone—involved in this robust part of Portland's music scene. Yes, they are noisy, but these are concerts. As for being jerks, please explain yourself without using a terrible example, like complaining about locked bikes...

It's not just the noise. Concertgoers gobble up parking and lock their bikes to strangers' fences and trees.

Will someone please think of the fences and the trees?

They leave behind empty beer cans, cigarette butts and, depending on the amount of alcohol consumed and the number of available bathrooms, much worse. They take business away from properly licensed clubs.

N7NY(((*G7CUSYVKDJGJH!!!! Oh sorry, I got so upset by those last two paragraphs I reverted to some rage typing. The first (of many faults) with this piece is the assumption that these homes are clubs. They are not. Houses that host shows rarely charge admission and when they do so, it usually comes in the form of a passed hat (or Folgers can) for touring acts. Forget about getting rich, no one is making a single dime from this. Open your wallet and take out a coin. Congratulations, you now have more money in the palm of your hand than anyone hosting a house show in the city of Portland.

House shows exists (for the most part) because there are countless number of kids living in Portland that have nowhere to go to see music. In the past six months Portland has lost Satyricon (totally all-ages), Berbati's Pan (all-age friendly), and the Artistery (all-ages, and closing in about a week from now)—this is what Griffin's article should be about. Not the neighbors complaining about the noise from one home, not the bicycles locked to trees, and not some landlord from Vancouver with poor phone manners. This city touts itself as an artistic-friendly mecca, but it's youngest segment of the populace is left to wither without a dedicated outlet to call its own. Seattle's Vera Project is an excellent example of how this can be done here in Portland. But with the sudden vacancy of age-friendly venues in town, these "illicit shows" are only going to occur more and more.

Wouldn't it be ironic if I ended this rant with a link to an Oregonian article that praises a Portland living room concert (one that actually charged for admission)? Yes, it surely would.