Building Community & Bridging The Gaps of the DIY Scene: A Conversation With @HOUSESHOWPHILLY

By Isaac Finn (@ifinn_flavorlessgum)

Edited by Olivia Paranich (@lamechica)

The Philadelphia DIY scene is a complex network of bands, hosts, and fans, all eager for the raw energy you can only experience at a house show. One force that actively embraces the community is Amanda McCormick of @houseshowphilly. With an emphasis on safe shows, loving the music, and bringing people together, it has been an honor to chat with Amanda. Keep reading to learn more about Houseshowphilly, how they got started, and where they’re headed next.

Isaac: Hello everyone! Thanks for tuning into UArts Radio, student-run radio from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Today we have with us the wonderful Amanda McCormick AKA House Show Philly. Thank you so much for joining us!

Amanda: Thanks for having me, guys! I really love being here.

I: I want to start off and ask you a little bit about how you formed House Show Philly and what that thought process was.

A: It’s a very funny– and a little embarrassing– maybe relatable story. You can probably tell by the way I dress, but I grew up on the internet. And my main website was Tumblr. And if you frequented Tumblr in 2015 or something like that, people would post masterlists of pirated movies. And there would be so many and any movie you could think of was on the list. So, I was driving in the car with the artist Lemonprom and I was like, “should I do a masterlist of all the Philly shows?”. Because the way it was before was that you had to know the venue or know the band to be able to find where all the shows were. And you would miss out on some shows because you didn’t know the venue at that time and then you would find out too late. So basically, I just kind of used the inspiration from the Tumblr masterlists and I just put all of the shows in one spot to make it easier for people. And I really didn’t know if people would like it because I thought people would be like, “oh you shouldn’t do this you should keep it a secret,”. But, people really did like it. And so that’s how I thought of it basically.

Olivia: That’s so cool! Tumblr also influenced me so much so it’s good to hear that someone else was in the same boat.

A: I spent my whole life on there. I would go to school, come home, and go on Tumblr.

O: Did you find new music on Tumblr too?

A: Definitely. Yeah because I was introduced to it by my neighbor down the street– she was really into [My Chemical Romance]– so I just went on there to be cool like her. And then I found out about other– I guess it’s not third wave-y– but like pop punk bands. I really love Panic! at the Disco. So I spent my entire life just reblogging pop punk bands and stuff.

I: Very cool! Can you keep talking a little bit more about the impact that you think this is having on the house show and Philly DIY scenes since you’ve started it?

A: Yeah. So, I started it and I just put a normal background with like oh, ‘philly house show masterlist,’ or whatever. And when I started doing it, again, you had to be in the know. And when I was growing up, socially you kinda had to be in the know. You had to know somebody to get invited to stuff. And I didn’t really like that. I feel like everybody should be able to go. If you want to go you should be able to go. It shouldn’t be this exclusive thing. So I wanted to make it that way. I wanted to make sure everybody could go. So I think that in the beginning, it was very– the first few months it was definitely still that you had to be in the know to do it. But more recently, especially after the Destructo Disk show at the Palace, it’s definitely branched out. Because I also practice crossposting. So, I’ll go on other platforms and try and get the word out. Because this is fun and I feel like if you work with the right venue, with the right promoter, you can do it in a safe way. I feel like in the past there hasn’t always been that guaranteed safety. And I want to use that platform that I’ve now created to make the environment way more safe. We’re getting security and stuff. I feel like the impact that it had basically is that it’s gotten the word out to more people and it’s really promoted the safety of the shows. There are really great venues, like the Palace and the Haven, that really practice and insist on the safety and security of everybody. So I like that. Not only has it branched out, but it has also created a better environment for people to go to house shows.

O: That’s so great to hear honestly. I thought about on my way over here about how many clubs and venues you don’t feel safe in. And how finding those special places where you can go to have fun and not be scared and be with a community of people is really a special thing.

A: Exactly. When those moments really come to fruition, it’s so beautiful and so much fun. I totally agree about the whole club thing. I’ve heard stuff about local clubs and it’s kind of inevitable because you don’t know who’s running whatever. But I want to make a platform in which people know that it’s me and know that they can come to me with anything and they can feel safe at these shows.

I: Yeah. So important.

O: Really admirable.

A: Thanks guys.

I: At the end of the day, you’re there for the music. You know, you’re not there for anything else. You’re not there to feel scared or unsafe. You’re there to hear some rad bands and be with your friends.

A: A lot of people have gotten away from the fact that it should be about the music. A lot of people are more concerned about the whole party part of it and it’s not really about that. I’ve been going to concerts since I was 15. Do you guys remember radio 104.5 when they had those summer shows? They were free all the time. I went to every single one. That’s where I really developed my love of music. And it’s so special to be able to indulge yourself in something you love and express yourself in that community and also feel like you’re allowed to do that in that space and you don’t have to worry about anything.

I: You started to touch on this a little bit– of your show at the Palace with Destructo Disk. And I’m just curious what the transition has been like between just making a list of these shows to now also putting on a lot of your own shows.

A: It has been really, really difficult. I’ve had a lot, not a lot, but I’ve had some shows that kind of failed. Basically, in the beginning, when I first started I had my show at the Tabernacle and it was an acoustic show and I really took it lightly. My first time doing it I was really gentle because I was really nervous because I had never done it before. But, to our surprise a lot of people actually showed out for an acoustic show. It was really nice and that show was originally supposed to be electric and there was a whole thing with the venue and we had to switch to acoustic. And it was totally cool. But, after that, I realized how much I love being able to set up a good quality show with really awesome bands too. And so after that I knew that I wanted to do another one the next month. And that was the Cecil skate show on June 18th. It was Dead Love Triangle and a bunch of other people. That one was definitely more difficult to do because at the Cecil skate show all you get is an outlet. And you have to bring the PA, you have to bring the drum kit and everything. That one was really difficult. And it was a free show too. I really liked being able to have a free outdoor show with some of the best bands in the city, honestly. But, I think that the 6/18 show was my most difficult one and after that, things started to get easier because I kind of knew how to set stuff up. In terms of the equipment and stuff because that’s the hardest part really, starting from scratch. After that I really took a total 360 and I had Destructo Disk headline the Palace. That was kind of like a shock. I cried so many times trying to make that show happen. Everytime they would be like “oh yeah I think we could do this date,” I would listen to their music and get overwhelmed with happiness. Ever since those first three monumental shows for me, it’s gotten really easy. And I’ve made so many connections and so many friends with bands that I’m grateful for. Once you get into it, it gets easier. You just have to throw yourself into these terrifying and really difficult situations and then it gets easier.

O: I think that’s good advice honestly.

A: Thanks. I’m trying out here!

I: it’s been very cool to see the amount of shows that you’ve been doing. The way that you’re sort of like the most important person in the house show scene. You’re working with the Palace. You’re working with the Haven. You’re working with putting on something at the cecil skatepark. You’re sort of this person that is so much of a unicorn that goes from one place to another. Being able to bridge the gap between every venue and bring people with you along the way.

A: That’s kind of another byproduct of starting the page too. Apparently none of the house show venue owners knew each other before the page because that’s how in the know you had to be. If you were a venue owner you didn’t even know the other people. I learned that the community came together after the whole thing in terms of like, house shows being friends with each other kind of thing. But yeah, I really appreciate that. That was really nice Isaac.

I: I think it’s also been cool to see how many new venues are popping up every week. I just found out about the Haven, I think the show before your show there. The Stoop just opened up over the summer. So it’s sort of like some venues leave because people have to move apartments or whatever and then with every one that goes away two more open up. And there’s so many people at every show.

A: I know right. And these new places that are popping up, like you said the Haven and the Stoop are really beautiful places. I know the owners of those two places personally and they’re really beautiful people who you can trust to feel safe at these places. So it’s really beautiful that the new venues that are coming in are just so nice and great places with great places with great people behind them.

O: Have you ever experienced any hate on your Instagram page?

A: Umm.. yeah. So I’ve experienced more hate in person of just people just saying stuff just to open their mouths or whatever. I’ve definitely heard some comments made about House Show Philly of people being like, “why didn’t I think of it first,” or, “House Show Philly never answers me,” or something. And that’s only because people are like, “I want to do art marts so bad,” and I know that my weakness is art marts. I know that I suck at that. I also have gotten just one– two– comments on my instagram. I had two comments on my Instagram. One person was like, “stop having shows here in public. We don’t like it.” And the other person was like, “stop”– this ones more funny– the other person’s like, “stop posting sponsored content. Stop putting ads on your instagram page.” If I want a lot of exposure because I have a lot of faith in a bill, I’ll put an ad on it. Because it’s my money, I worked for it, and that’s what I want to do. And someone was like, “stop sponsoring ads.” And then deleted it! Don’t make the comment then, just for it to show up in my notifications. Those are the only two times I’ve experienced a genuine hater.

O: I would assume you get more love because like we’ve been saying, your page is a wonderful beautiful thing. That’s so silly. Why do people care if you take ads out? The more people that see it the more people that go to shows. Who cares?

A: Exactly. Like part of my whole thing is this is so that venues can get exposure and get people in the door. It’s like man, c’mon man. I don’t know.

I: Are you ever at a show and someones talking to you and they don’t know that you’re House Show Philly and then you go, “actually I’m House Show Philly.”

A: Yeah that happens super super often actually. And a lot of the time people will be right in front of me talking about House Show Philly and they don’t know. It happened at an art mart once where these guys were– I was talking to Mom Cheese and the booth right next to us was like, “oh house show philly yadadadada,”. And I [made a sound] and they didn’t really pick up on it because my noise was so subtle and I’ll be right next to people and they’ll be talking about me all the time. Yeah a lot of people have instagram you know. And people post themselves you know. So, I’ll recognize people from Instagram. And I don’t post my face on House Show Philly. And I have a personal Instagram that’s totally separate. But some people will put their own Instagram and involve it in the scene. But basically nobody knows what I look like. I’ll be talking to someone random and I’ll be like, “oh yeah I’m House Show Philly,” and their face will just light up. And it’s really nice that I’m able to do that for other people. I usually get love and sometimes people even dm me and are like, “this person and this person said something really nice about you,”. And I’m like, “aw thanks!”

I: Do you have a favorite house show moment?

A: My favorite moment at a house show would have to be– oh my gosh. Ok, so Destructo Disk is my favorite band. I could talk about them forever. But, I know what they look like cause they’re a band, you know. But, I went up to the lead singer and I have like the worst anxiety ever. I get so nervous talking to people. But I went up to the lead singer and was like, “hey,” after their soundcheck and everything when they were just messing around. And I was like, “hey, you’re Destructo Disk.” And they were like, “yep yep.” And I was like, “oh I’m House Show Philly.” And even then, it was my favorite band and their face still lit up. It was insane. I think meeting my favorite band– and booking them too– was definitely my favorite moment in all of House Show Philly history.

I: It’s cool to be able to meet someone that you’ve known about for so long and cared about what they’re putting on and making art that you care about.

A: Yeah I know right! That was so insane. They’re my number one artist on Spotify and everything so I was like, “oh my god.” That was the best thing that ever happened to me I think.

I: Alright I don’t want to alienate anyone with this question or get you in trouble here with this one. But…what’s your favorite house show venue in the city?

A: Oh my gosh! Ok so I have a lot of friends that run venues so I don’t want to be impartial to anybody but my current favorite– as of November– is definitely the Haven. I know those people very well and if I asked them to hang out, just to go to the bar or whatever, they’d say yes. I definitely feel like I can tell them stuff. And it’s a very beautiful place. Mike, they collect vintage lamps and stuff. And they’ve got all these crazy LEDs and everything. So it’s a very beautiful place. Very awesome people who really do want to be friends and everything. So they just hold a very special place in my heart. But, obviously, I have to give love to the Palace as well. I absolutely love Char. She’s been so kind to me and we’ve had some very in depth conversations and I really feel like she’s a friend as well. She’s crazy busy because she has Bestie Booking and the Palace. That’s such a huge undertaking for her. But she is such a nice person and her house is so nice. So I definitely want to give love to both the Haven and the Palace. I know I keep talking about them over and over again but I absolutely love them. Definitely a toss up between those two.

O: Do you remember your first house show you ever went to?

A: Yes! So this is back before it didn’t have a name. It was August 2021. I work with the artist Lemonprom. Lemonprom makes all of my flyers, anything except for the one Palace flyer. But any art that’s on there, Lemonprom made it. Basically… he doesn’t think it was a date but I kinda do. So he asked me to drive him down to the show. We went down to the show and the whole car ride he was dead silent. And I found out later he had a crush on me or whatever. Anyway, we went down because we’re friends with Wallce, Tonight! from high school. I went to high school with Graham and we were both in the stage crew. And I currently have a sound technician on the House Show Philly team. Her name is Jess. She’s been my best friend since freshman year. Jess trained Graham on sound and everything and I was always up there hanging out with Jess. So anyway, basically what I’m saying is that we were going to the show to see Wallace, Tonight! It was at– I probably shouldn’t plug the address. It’s now called Echo House I believe. It’s on Norris St. That was my first ever one. And it was just, you know, the standard basement in the house and everything. And I think Angies was on the bill too.

I: Oh it was on like Broad and Norris? I think I was also there!

A: Shut up!

I: It was like the beginning of the school year in 2021?

A: Yeah! It was right before Lemonprom had to leave to go to school. So it had to have been like, August 11th I want to say.

I: That might’ve been also my first house show!

A: Shut up! Really! It had the pink and the dogs on the flyer.

I: Yeah, that was also my first show

A: That was a good show. How monumental! It got us both.

I: Yeah and it’s been all house shows from there on out.

O: What is coming up next for House Show Philly?

A: I have so much in the future. I have crazy stuff going on within the next two weeks that I haven’t even talked about. I’m continuing to work with other venues and really mix it up, you know. I feel like everybody should get a fair shot to collab if they want to. Some places don’t want to and that’s ok. No big deal. I’ve got something coming up with Orpheus’ Garden– which is another house show. I’ve got Short Fictions headlining this crazy five band emo bill kinda thing. And then after that, I’m very excited because I have my anniversary coming up soon. So I started this page– the first post I ever made on it was November 19th. I think that’s like a Wednesday or something this year and I’m not going to throw a show on a Wednesday. Well anyway. My anniversary show is coming up. And it’s gonna be a really big deal. We’ve got Oolong headlining along with Friend playing as well. And Sloptart playing as well. And I believe there’s another one. Well anyway. So it’s gonna be a very big deal. It’s gonna be at the Haven. A classic, beautiful venue. And I’m really putting my back into it. We’re doing shirts for the first time ever. We’re doing a zine for the first time ever. And I’m featuring a lot of really important, not only people, but also women in the zine as well. So a lot of my best friends– I’m friends with Tooth Fairy Collective and I’m friends with Valendina. And we’ve also got Froggy in the zine. And we’ve got Disaster Artist working on something as well. We’re basically just going to talk about what it is to be involved in this community and stuff. And what it means to be a woman in the community as well. And just a lot of why other people should get involved as well. Because the more the people that are in it the more creativity, you know. As many minds as you can get. Well anyway. We’re definitely going crazy. It’s gonna be on 11/26. It’s the anniversary show. I hope you can make it!

I: I’ll try my best to get this out before then.

A: Yeah, I’m very excited for the anniversary. Going forward we’ve definitely got a lot more cool shows. I’m trying to do concept shows. Because Tooth Fairy Collective, who I’m friends with, has a lot of friends in DIY wrestling. I know some other communities do it but we’re trying to do more concept shows to really change the game you know. So we’ve got concept shows, we’ve got really big bands coming back. I’m trying to get my favorite band to come back. Fingers crossed. We’ve got a lot coming up in the next year and it’s gonna be good. I hope you can come on out if you want to.

I: Thank you so much! House Show Philly everyone.

A: Thanks guys. Thanks for listening. Thanks for having me.

O: Make sure to follow House Show Philly on Instagram. Make sure to pop out to some of these shows coming up.

A: Thanks guys!

I: Thank you!

O: Thank you!


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