STARTED FROM THE BOTTOM…OF a HOUSE
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Opening a door into the dimly lit, stale basement of the home at 448 Corona St. in Winston-Salem doesn’t exactly sound like the entrance to your typical music venue – it rather evokes more of a “Fight Club” narrative twist – but Mitchell Avent is changing that.
In the professional sense, Avent, a 23-year-old Winston-Salem native, operates as the head booking agent, if you wanted to get political about this rogue and unorthodox spot. He lives in the upstairs portion of the 448 Corona St. house, which is not directly connected to the basement where the bands have played, making management a bit easier by keeping show attendees actually out of the living space. And in the more contextual sense, Avent just wanted to host events at his house where his friends could come listen to music.
“The first touring band was Rat Trap, and they came from Boston,” Avent said recalling the hardcore act’s perofrmance. “They were our second show and they brought it down. They came from Boston and played, and he messaged me a few months ahead of time.” Avent saw an opportunity to do something different, to fill a niche for a touring act and to host a show at his house, and ran with it. That was back in December.
Among other shows, Avent has managed to wrangle more than a handful of bands to come play at his Anti-Sound venue, which doubles as a rehearsal place for his own band, Bad Deal. Acts like Greensboro’s Born Hollow, Bobby Orr (as Avent described, “a hockey-worship band that turned out to be really good”) and Hate Stomp have all graced the concrete floor, some getting more personal with pipe-hanging stunts that didn’t quite go as planned.
Avent said that growing up his dad provided much of his musical influences, nodding to 90s pseudo-pioneers Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam (“still one of my favorite rock and roll bands,” he injected) and other pre-2000 punk acts.
The support system a music scene needs is often found in the extremities of any city – the places you know how to look for only when someone has shared the secret with you. Such is the case for Avent’s Anti-Sound venue, a complete DIY-space that sustains itself from basement show to basement show simply because the owners say so and the bands keep coming. If it weren’t for acts and friends spreading the news either by word-of-mouth, or in some cases Avent being messaged on Facebook, then the possibility of each show would be grim. However, Avent prints flyers and passes them out and the word spreads until some 40 people confirm for a show and pack the house.
To entice the bands, many of which are just looking for a space to play to a crowd, Avent adds a small door fee of around $3 so that he can cover gas expenses for the artists. Like traditional venues, Avent even offers amenities like a green room, which is a closed off couch-and-chill area.
“By the end of the night it’s really just more of a house party “¦ at my house,” he said.
“Our neighbors have been pretty cool,” he said while pointing to both sides of the property, but apparently everyone within earshot has not been so content. “Somebody called the cops a couple weeks ago. The last show we had, the cops came right at the end of the show.”
The cops came in regard to a formal noise complaint, which can carry up to a $500 fine and “imprisonment for not more than 30 days,” according to the City of Winston-Salem’s Code of Ordinances Section 46-1. The ordinance does not clarify any certain decibel level, but rather enforces based on “the creation of unreasonably loud and disturbing noise.”
But noise complaint aside, Anti-Sound is just another piece of the musical puzzle in Winston-Salem. House parties happen all the time, but it’s when the operators see a hole and fill it with opportunity that things really begin to change. !
Contact Mitchell Avent on Facebook for show booking and venue availability, and follow BAD DEAL to see more about upcoming shows.