Over the course of the next three issues, the Trinitonian will run articles as part of a series exploring different types of performance venues in San Antonio. The series highlights three types of venues: a DIY space, a medium-sized venue and a larger concert hall. Throughout the series, we interview performing artists, members of the venues’ administrations and members of the audiences.
This week’s edition focuses on a DIY house venue called South Newby. The Trinitonian is not giving the address of the location to maintain the venue’s privacy.
Even before the show starts, South Newby feels different from other San Antonio music venues. For starters, it’s a house. Its stage is the living room.
South Newby is one of San Antonio’s many performance spaces that function under do-it-yourself (DIY) ethos, hosting local and touring bands for community-run concerts almost every week. The venue is also the actual home of several members of the San Antonio music scene, some of whom play in local indie staples Elnuh and Booty Feet. Though they’ve each played at commercial venues, the musicians host DIY house shows to grow their listening bases and to provide an intimate space for other local acts to perform.
Luke Mitchell lives in the house, runs live sound and performs in several local acts — including his own project, Slomobile. For him, hosting shows is a high point for the unofficial San Antonio music collective, in which his band and several others play key parts.
“Over the past two years, I’ve just been meeting all these cool people in town who are doing the same things I’m doing and building this network of DIY musicians,” Mitchell said. “This house, South Newby, is kind of the culmination of all of that and everything that we’ve done with Booty Feet and Elnuh and that whole group of bands.”
Having DIY spaces like South Newby also helps touring bands fill their schedule and provide fans with a more personal concert experience.
Stef Chura, a Detroit-based indie band, performed a matinee show at South Newby Saturday, Sept. 22, fewer than 24 hours after opening for Frankie Cosmos and Lomelda at Paper Tiger.
“I started off playing a lot of house shows, like only house shows,” said Chura, the frontwoman and songwriter for the group. “It’s really essential for people who, you know, can’t drink and can’t go to bars.”
That’s part of the reason Trinity sophomore Christina Ridlen, who is underage, has attended shows at South Newby.
“The music is very real and very raw,” Ridlen said. “I guess it really just makes the music more fun when you can connect with the performers.”
Another strength of DIY spaces like South Newby is their flexibility. Without monetization as a driving force, venue owners invite community members to participate however they’re able.
For Dante Lawrence, a San Antonio native, that means his catering company, Tres Veg Boyz, can sell food at shows. On Saturday, the meal was vegan meatball subs, a menu choice designed to appeal to meat-eaters and vegans alike.
“We’re basing a lot of what we do out of like DIY ethics, so I think it’s definitely important to have that sort of starting ground for all kinds of DIY ventures,” Lawrence said.
For DIY venues like South Newby, their obscurity is both a blessing and a curse. Operating out of the mainstream allows them some protection from being shut down. Though it’s hard for some fans to find them, it also provides the community feel that their shows have become known for.
The community aspect of the DIY culture is the reason why Loretta Rodriguez, Trinity junior, is a South Newby regular.
“Usually, most of the bands are local, so it just feels like you’re just a part of the place where you live. I moved here — I’m not from here — so it really feels like I’m a part of the community through these shows,” Rodriguez said. “It seems like everybody is a friend or a friend-of-a-friend here.”
In addition to the written pieces featured in the Trinitonian, we are creating three supplemental videos which serve as mini-documentaries about each space. Though the story and the video can each stand alone, we encourage you to read and watch both components to get the best version of the story.