In September, I moved out of the suburbs to start a new school year in fabulous Allston. In addition to trash and rats, I became intrigued by the neighborhood’s subculture, specifically its underground music scene. Bombarded by hearsay, I conjured images of silver curtains and avant-garde spectacles.
These things are un-Googleable, so going undercover was my only option.
DISCLAIMER: Certain venues and people are underground for a reason. Exposing too much information would contradict their underground status, so instead use this guide to find it and enjoy it of your own volition.
Q: How do I find shows?
I first turned to my girl, Megan, a third-wave feminist and DIY enthusiast who is way too cool to be from Scranton. That’s why she lives in Allston! Megan, between drags of her Parliament, gave me some advice: “Ask a punk. Add them to your Facebook list.” Asking around proved to be my best bet. In Allston, it appears that everybody knows someone who knows somebody who knows of an upcoming show. Thanks to a week of spreading the word and a text from Allston socialite, Andy,
I had finally gotten my “in” on a rainy Thursday night.
Q: How much do I have to pay?
Not long after 10 p.m., I arrived at a venue with a ridiculous children’s book name. After finding Andy, I was led to the backyard of the One-Family Home That Shall Not Be Named. Passing shadowy figures, beer bottles, and smoke clouds, we made our way to the backdoor and walked into a kitchen where various attendees congregated. I had made it inside with no sign of a ticket booth! Although, when a pudgy bearded fellow leaning against the sink told me to donate to his band, I smiled uncomfortably.
Q: What kind of music can I expect?
Following a narrow dodge of the donation tug-of-war, Andy and I scurried down to the basement where a band was preparing their set. I had barely enough time to admire the stuffing hanging from the ceiling planks (held together by duct tape) before symbols crashed and guitars rattled. The lead singer’s vocals were mumbly over echoing riffs. More indie than punk, more mellow than mosh, but still powerful enough to shake the concrete floor. I want to say they sounded like Sonic Youth. (Everything sounds like Sonic Youth when you’re drunk in a basement. –Ed.) The Detroit natives were only a small sample of the underground bands that roll through Allston basements as a whole.
Expect possibly everything.
Q: Is there a dress code? How do I dance?
It is safe to say that fashion was not a priority for the crowd at this basement show. That said, many took a do-it-yourself approach (hence “DIY” scene?) and adorned themselves with some kind of alternative hairstyle or piercing flow. As expected, flannels were common, along with tight pants and several other Allston fashion stereotypes. As far as dancing goes it seemed as if “don’t look at me” head-banging and foot-tapping was the way to go. Some girls were more rhythmic and some guys were more excited when “dancing”, and then there were the two sweaty drunkards who attempted to form a mosh-pit. Frankly, I’ve seen better.
All in all, seeking the underground shows showed me that there is not much more for an outsider to understand about Allston’s secret scene than the following: Ask around, prices are debatable, genre is alt-variable, and—
above all—DO IT YOURSELF.