There's a world of music in our town that's streaming just below the radar and beyond the realm of nightclubs and theaters. It's a scene that unfolds in artists' lofts and musicians' living rooms and often outside the media's reach. In fact, many nontraditional music spaces are averse to publicity and the unwanted attention it invites from city officials.
Intrepid music fans on the hunt for loft happenings and house concerts should be willing to do some serious digging online to find out about upcoming events; two places to start are the websites under21inboston.typepad.com and tourfilter.com/boston. Out of respect to the tenants who put their leases on the line to stage these shows, we won't be printing addresses or phone numbers.
A recent trek to a Congress Street loft in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood turned up a show called Blasphemy and Benevolence. The airy space was filled with salvaged wood doors that the artist-in-residence turns into commissioned pieces and the lineup skewed toward cutting-edge noise/drone/electronica. The crowd - ensconced on sofas and cross-legged on the floor - was a mix of art-damaged grown-ups and PBR-toting hipsters.
Ark, in Chinatown, doubles as a small loft home and a collaborative performance space for musicians and artists; in recent months it has hosted shows by organic trance outfits, modern rock bands, indie-soul, and electro-tropicalia acts.
A couple of weeks ago it was the site of Anoxia, an interactive sculpture and sound installation. The same night, a few doors down at the wildly ornamented fifth-floor walk-up Nom D'Artiste, it was a night of hard rock and metal with pierced patrons to match.
While house concerts are a longtime fixture in folk and singer-songwriter circles, a generation of young indie-rockers are discovering the pleasures of laid-back performances in cozy, cramped quarters.
"I don't have to hear my voice through a monitor or go to a bar where I would never hang out. And I think people are there to listen," says Carter Tanton, frontman for the local band Tulsa, who recently played a set at Winter Camp, a.k.a. Greg Beson's Central Square apartment.
Beson, who also performed as his musical alter ego, Manners, has put on three shows so far - all with eclectic lineups, packed crowds, and fruit and chips in the kitchen. He was inspired to start his own house concert series by visiting Whitehaus, a Jamaica Plain musician's collective that hosts Friday Night Hootenannies open to anyone who cares to drop by and share some music.
Various churches around town provide another alternative to traditional music venues, and they're great listening rooms. The International Community Church in Allston hosts regular shows by pop-rockers, hardcore groups, and punk bands, and First Church in Boston has occasional concerts, including one last year by Tegan & Sara that's been posted in a series of clips on YouTube.