‘10-year challenge:’ the Greensboro house show edition
By: Katei Cranford
Greensboro is a house show city. Filled with college kids and a dearth of steady venues, house shows offer a sweet spot both for underage music lovers and folks burnt-out on traditional spaces.
The Ice House, Greensboro’s latest home to carry the show space torch, embodies the former: kids with energy booking shows, mixing genres and cresting into their 20s looking to get down.
“We made a joke about naming our house after Icehouse beer because we were drinking it and our house is blue and white,” said resident Kyla Bartron. “We asked ourselves if we really wanted our house named after a cheap beer,” she continued, “and we realized, yes. Yes, we do.”
A sense of humor is salient for hosting a space that’s both private and public.
Not to be confused with the indoor ice-skating rink on Wendover, the “Ice House” name nods to the Firehouse, a convenience store close by—the reference may be lost on locals over 25, who may still call the classic College Hill bodega “U-G-S” (or “University General Store”).
Space names often lend themselves to locality; Hellraiser Haus stood in the shadow of its titular filming location, Tuba house was across McIver from the music school, and The Barn resembled its namesake on Wilson. Dick Street, Cedar, Chapman, and Corndale all served as clues to finding the place.
Other spots such as Butler, Karate Dungeon, Panda Pile, TYP, Science House, and Jazz House, reflected resident’s personalities and inside jokes.
Ice House is both.
“The name was cemented when we realized every single person who walks into our house goes ‘Hey, this is a really nice house,’” Bartron said. “One of our roommates made the joke, ‘this isn’t a nice house, it’s an ice house.’ And from then on, it stuck.”
Beyond making a name, the Ice House kids have learned some lessons in the handful of shows they’ve held since September 2018.
“We started out by the seat of our pants,” Bartron recalled of their first show with a mosh pit, “our floor looked like a trampoline, our piano was about to crumble, people were crowd surfing.”
“We thought it was really cool,” she added, “but we started thinking more logistically about crowd control.”
They’ve since reinforced the floor and their goal, which is to continue providing an inclusive, all-ages environment. “These spaces are important to the music scene because it breaks the barrier for younger college students to get into any venue whether to play or just listen,” Bartron said. “Underground venues provide a sense of community. We’ve built such close relationships with all of the groups who’ve performed here. It’s something we’d love to provide to new musicians on the scene.“
Creating a conduit for connection outside traditional outlets is a noble mission from folks who are pretty fresh themselves.
Ice House homies are UNCG students whose understanding of the area is encapsulated in their collegiate periphery. “We weren’t aware of it being a house show spot before we moved in,” Bartron admitted, “but there’s so much space. We knew it was perfect for large gatherings.”
If walls could talk…
There’s the “10-year photo challenge” making rounds on social networks, but unbeknownst to current residents, there’s a 10-year WUAG connection in action at the Ice House. 2019 WUAG productions director Julian Creech-Pritchett, made his solo debut at their first show of the year, but he’s not the first WUAG artist to hallow those halls.
Back in 2009, the space was home to WUAG board members who hosted events. A couple of years later, another crop of Greensboro music-freaks (who ran the Glenwood DIY venue, 7-Day Weekend, and now host Bang Night at M’Coul’s) took up the helm and threw ragers.
It does seem, however, that the Ice House is the most official of the show-throwers thus far—they even take credit cards and app payments for cover charges.
“We really wanted to start the year off right,” Bartron said of their explosive January schedule.
“2019 is going to be great,” she added. “Our show count for January alone is half of our total so far. Things have blown up fast, and we’re excited for what’s to come.“
The Ice House is gearing up for its next show with Indigo, Mutt!, and Rowdy Leaf on Jan. 19, followed by a doubleheader weekend with RetroHixz, Terms x Conditions, and the Quarter Roys on Jan 25; and Natalie Claro, Terms x Conditions, and Black Haus on Jan 26.
Ask a cool kid how to get there.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who spent her 20s in a house show spot. She hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands touring NC, 5-7p.m. on WUAG 103.1 FM.