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The Daily Tar Heel

House shows strike the right chord among Chapel Hill residents


Finn Ulrich, Jack Lindstrom and Jackson Reed, three members of Happy Friday Bagel Time, perform at a function at the Sigma Chi fraternity house on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022.
Photo Courtesy of Kennedy Cox.

At the first house show that Nick Chilman, the lead singer of Monadi, played, the police showed up and the power went out before the band performed their final song.

It wasn’t the most illustrious start in the Chapel Hill house show scene, but Chilman said that even though the show wasn’t perfect, the point of playing was to get better. 

House shows are a simple concept: artists perform at someone’s house. 

Casey Kibe, the lead singer of CSB, also views house shows as places to improve her performance, she said. She said she created CSB her senior year at UNC to fulfill a bucket list item — starting a band with her friends. Kibe said the support and connections she has made playing house shows in Chapel Hill have been invaluable. 

She said house shows are a great environment because the musicians' goal is to have fun. Not many college bands are doing it to get paid or be famous, she said.

House shows are also a networking opportunity, Kibe said. She met the members of the band Carrboro Electric Company at a backyard birthday party where Monadi also performed, she said. 

Max Jacobson, a UNC senior and the lead guitarist of Carrboro Electric Company, CSB and Nightshade, is a transfer from California who only started playing shows when he got to Chapel Hill, he said. Jacobson said he first explored the house show scene when he played for the Carolina Bluegrass Band at UNC, where he met his future Carrboro Electric Company bandmate. 

“The scene, it’s pretty intimate, everyone kind of knows each other, so I think just having that community, where you can play house shows and stuff like that, that’s what kinda got me into it,” Jacobson said. 

While there are benefits to the closeness of the community, it can be difficult to gain exposure from such a small scene, according to Daniel O’Shaughnessy, a former music director and show host for WXYC, a student-run radio station in Chapel Hill.

“I think that there’s a lot of potential for it to be a great showcase for artists; I just think the biggest issue is that the word doesn’t really get out beyond certain circles a lot of the time," O’Shaughnessy said. "You really gotta be looking for that kind of thing."

Still, Chilman said the house shows were important for promoting his band in a different way.

“I don’t think we got fans from playing house shows, but there’s a legitimacy that comes to an artist when people that aren’t even at the performances see that you are performing,” Chilman said. 

Promotion is a part of recent UNC graduate Audrey Keelin’s job, as she plays and throws house shows. She said she gets the word out through Instagram, and she tries to bring the friendly energy she feels while playing house shows to the ones she throws.

However, house shows don’t just happen among the UNC community. Ken Gorfkle, founder of the Chapel Hill Piano Salon, said he hosts classical piano concerts where audience members can listen to accomplished pianists up close at his house. 

Gorfkle started his concert series after purchasing a grand piano, and he now hosts prestigious pianists at his house about four times a year for classical music enthusiasts in Chapel Hill, he said.

“The biggest thing is, I make people happy,"  Gorfkle said. "I bring a lot of happiness to people who appreciate this kind of music." 

Kibe said the house show scene is a great starting place for any aspiring musician in Chapel Hill, whether they want to grow beyond the scene or not. 

“In a regular venue it’s like, if you bring in ten people, it’s considered a failure," Kibe said.  "But at a house show, maybe that’s all you need to make it feel like a success."


@dthlifestyle |

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