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A Night at The Beaver Dam: The DIY Collision of Art and Music.

April 24, 2015

stephens_2015_beaver dam-34Text by Holli Stephens. Images by Holli Stephens and Eddie Durkin.

A hubub of noise. Palettes of paint. A plethora of flow.

The Beaver Dam.

Houses throw concerts in basements frequently in Philadelphia. But it’s a rare occurrence that a showgoer can watch live painting, groove to the beat of a DJ, hear their favorite band and watch a flow artist all in the same night, under the same roof.

“The Special Green Weekend” event held at The Beaver Dam last Friday consisted of musical artists Tie-Dyed Dave, Flower Garden, Mercury Retrograde and Broadened Horizons, with DJs Patrick Richards and Kyle Ryan.

“We switched to the house show stuff in November and that’s when it started to kick off,” says “Kyle,” who lives in the house (we’ve changed his name changed for safety purposes).

Kyle cautiously waits at the door, scanning the sidewalk for any passersby. Previously, his house shows solely catered to DJs. But after watching the success of different houses over the years – and with a little encouragement from his peers – a community of different artists now inhabit his parties.

Two painters settle in the living room of The Beaver Dam, a batch of finished paintings on each side of the room and paint brushes in their hands. Michelle Smith (aka Sugar Cadavers) preps her station, crouching over to pour paint onto her palette.

“Music is very much about art,” she says. “It’s just very nice to have it actually there. People forget about it a lot.”

Ellis Rosenberg’s face is pressed against the canvas. His painting is a very abstract portrait outlined in a bright pink.

“It’s great,” Rosenberg says, “that there are like-minded people that get together and enjoy these things and start their own movement and future.”

A pile of amps and guitars find a home in the utmost corner of the immense basement.The stage is set. Strobe lights cast shades of blue, green and red on those beginning to filter in. Only the silhouettes of bands can be seen in front of all the commotion.

Patrick Richards does not see the individuals gathered to watch him spin. His head is furiously bobbing to the beat of Claude VonStroke and his view is nothing but his CDJ.

“DJs used to be known as tastemakers,” he says. “People would trust them to show them the new hot records. As someone who digs for new tracks rather then playing a set filled with bangers, I think it’s refreshing to hear someone say that my choice of music is receptive to more the one crowd.”

Tie-Dyed Dave, lead by singer/songwriter and lead guitarist David Durdaller set the tone for the night. His soulful voice resonates above the upbeat roll cast by his drummer. It surprises him to see art being sold upon arrival but in a good sense.

“It’s nice,” Durdaller says. “It makes it classier. All the art around encourages different types of artists to be here.”

Steven Haas’ straw hat encompasses the vibe of his band, Flower Garden, the only crew on the list not based in Philadelphia. The crowd has evened out nicely by this point and can be seen openly grooving to the funky pop riffs of Haas’ guitar.

“It’s a pretty cool thing,” Haas says. “We’re all here and we’re playing together.”

Mercury Retrograde, formerly known as The Wanderers, includes two members who had the original idea to bring the artist community to The Beaver Dam – Smith and Dan Snyder. Snyder is also the frontman of the band’s experimental jam style.

“It’s eclectic,” Snyder says. “It brings out a lot of people’s talents. It’s not just about music. When you add other arts to music, I think that helps direct the focus to towards the art and community of putting on a show. I feel like college students, especially, forget that sometimes. “

Ending the night was a joint collaboration of bands Broadened Horizons and Brain, lead by Andres Gallegos, who won over the crowd by covering Grateful Dead and Bob Marley.

“This is just a fusion of art,” says Gallegos. “This venue expresses it the most out of all of them. They’re really good at gathering people here and expressing the DIY in Philly.”

The Beaver Dam is in the process of staging an all-day music event in early May.

One Comment
  1. April 25, 2015 2:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Sugar Cadavers and commented:
    Fun article about our last show at the Beaver Dam! come join us May!!

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