Sunday, July 26, 2015

How a House Concert Works & my U.S. House Concert Experiences

Hanging out the the gang post the SFO house concert

One of the coolest and largely untapped options for bands (and singer-songwriters in particular) are house concerts. This is mainly a concept from the West and barring a few sporadic concerts in the country, the concept still hasn't quite gained as much popularity in India. What I like best about house concerts is it's D-I-Y approach. As an artist if you want your music to reach out to people in new cities, you don't need to rely on venues for getting a gig..set it up yourself and just go play!   Read on to learn more house concerts and how to set up your own..

What's a house concert?

A house concert - (the name is quite self explanatory really) is a concert in someone's house. The "someone" could be a friend/an acquaintance or just a fan that loves your music.
At these concerts the people that attend, come exclusively to listen to you. It provides a more intimate setting for your music. I would highly recommend this setting for singer-songwriters that like a conversational format to their performance and whose sound setup is simple.

How does it work?

Matthew and Sam buying CD's at the SFO house concert
Depending on your host's level of comfort, house concerts could be by invitation only to a closed group of select friends( yours and the host's) or open to anyone that would like to attend.
Sound and gear is generally brought by the artist or friends (or hired if you don't have a choice). Light snacks and refreshments are provided by the host/artist or you could have a potluck format where everyone can bring food to share after the concert and have your own after-party. Entry to these concerts is mostly free and concerts are promoted on social media groups and by e-mail. At these concerts, the artist typically makes money from the sale of CD’s and merchandise and donations from the audiences. 

My U.S. house concert experiences in pictures 

At the house concert at aunt Meera's(in green jacket) 
On my US. Tour this summer I experienced both types of house concerts . The first one was a concert cum pool party at my aunt Meera Kaul's beautiful home in Menlo Park, California .We invited a closed guest list of 70 people, her friends, family & my fans and friends in California.

We had a stage by the pool, a minimal sound setup and drinks and snacks for the guests. A CD corner and guest book was setup on the side. We even had a little stall with a few kids selling lemonade and energy bars to raise funds for Nepal. Thanks Meera and everyone that came!

Performing my set at the stage near the pool
Me with Sonia Rao, an L.A. based artist  

Casper the doggie welcoming guests
Old friends and new
Arjun and Mythili
Abhishek and his beautiful family

Meera and me with Casper

My next house concert was in Portland, Oregon. This was an example of a house concert where I didn't know my host earlier but reached out to them via the internet.
Group hug- Deva, Bruce and Mary-Ann

I was introduced to my host Deva Gordon (leftmost in the picture) by another lovely generous Portlandier I reached out to online, Bruce Bartlett(center). I hosted a workshop at Bruce's earlier in May and he suggested we do the concert at his friend Deva's home. He asked Deva and she warmly agreed to be host for the evening. So here we were, doing my first house concert in Portland, U.S.A!

Deva's lavender home
The minute I set my eyes on Deva's home, I fell in love with it. I mean seriously..a lavender home with pretty lights and flowers outside..How much cuter can it get really! If a house reflects the people who live in it then I would say that Deva's home described her perfectly. She was incredibly warm and nice.

Setting up the CD display and guest book
 Bruce got an amplifier, microphone stand, mics and mixer from his home.We set up quickly and finished soundcheck. 

Soundchecking - Processor run through
Setting up the stage

Lets get this show started
 Pretty soon the crowd trickled in,  and made themselves comfortable at the little parlour in the back.

We had asked the guests to get some food to share with the others.  My sister got olives, some cheese and orange juice and Deva made some chia and coconut pudding .

I introduced myself and started playing

We took a break after the first set to interact with the guests and get some food into our hungry bellies!

Free hugs!

After eating Deva's yummy chia pudding
Playing my second set
Albert and his friend
After the quick break, I played my second set and taught the audience the words of a few songs so they could sing along. I love getting people to sing along with me:)
Thanking everyone that came and posing for group pictures post the gig
Some of the guests bought CD's and others made donations. It was really encouraging to see music from across the shores being appreciated in America as well.

My sister and me
I also happen to have the best sister in the world who took all these pictures & drove me to the concert. Thank you sis!

I'll be back next year USA.
Thank you for having me. It's been an honour.

Thanks for coming folks 

All in all house concerts are definitely something you should try as an independent artist. Get started today! Good luck and let me know how your concert's went in the comments section below.