All Images Copyright Ian Thomas Watson, unless otherwise stated. All Rights Reserved, including the rights to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form. Scholastic Edition. Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA Watson Photography Philadelphia, PA 19130 https://www.facebook.com/ianthomaswatsonphotography
To the scene Iâ€™ve experienced so much in, the people who got me into it, and the ones who kept me there. You know who you are. Thanks for the ride.
Table of Contents -Preface
+about maggot house
InFinity Crush, Salvador Rex
+ TrafFic Nightmare, Abi Reimold, Port Arthur, +A Birthday show for christie mast
+TrafFic Nightmare, Cold Fronts, Grandkids
+Roof doctor, maraih welch, the choly melons, salvator rex, Brown Rainbow
+Julia Brown, InFinity Crush, Avery Rosewater
-Church of the Advocate
+about church of the advocate
+MOss, drunken suFis, netherfriends, Rasputins
+waldosia, kiddo marink, skin cells, chet williams Secret Police
On January 14th, 2012, I attended my first basement show. It was at a college-student occupied house that was affectionately known as “Maggot House” by the regular attendees. I had written an article about the place over the previous summer for JUMP Magazine, but I had never gotten the chance to actually attend any of their actual shows. A few days prior, one of the residents of the house, Alex Stackhouse, reached out to me over Facebook to come to the show and photograph the bands, offering compensation through alcohol. I didn’t know it at the time, but this night of photographing while sipping on a Hurricane High Gravity would directly affect the rest of my college career. Realizing that Maggot House was part of something special, I began to make my own photo book about the place for my Photo Seminar II class. Titled “Fistful of Maggots,” it dove into the personal lives of the tenants of the building, as well as talked about the DIY scene within the city and how Maggot
House ties into it, both just in North Philadelphia and in the city at large. In doing this, I started to realize the true size of the beast I was just scratching the surface of. Maggot House was (and is) arguably the most active and influential show house in the North Philadelphia scene, but they were just part of it. Other places, like MySpace and Sriracha Castle, had their own following, their own stories to tell, their own piece in the puzzle. And even then, North Philadelphia was just one section of the DIY scene of the overall city. I knew when I finished making Fistful of Maggots that I would want to do a follow-up book, but to make this new book focus on more places than just the birthplace of my passion for basement show photography. As I began to work on this new book this semester, I began to realize very quickly that the North Philadelphia scene was changing, and was in a state of turmoil of sorts. Maggot House, which was supposed to close its doors last year,
was still doing shows for a final run, but most, if not all, of the other big-name house venues had closed their doors for good, or did so before I could document any of them. It seems to be a cycle of musical life: as people who throw house shows grow older, they eventually come to a point where their own personal lives begin to conflict with the ability to have hundreds of people over every other week to see a band play in your basement while simultaneously wrecking all of your personal belongings. As the older DIY kids begin to move out of hosting spaces, new, younger local music supporters begin to come out of the woodwork and start hosting their own shows at their own houses, thus completing the circle of DIY space life. With this in mind, this two-venue book could have been a lot longer had I attempted it last year, or did it on West Philadelphia DIY scene, which is currently booming right now. However, I have yet to develop a connection with the scene in the west as much as the one I have for the north. These people took me, a relative stranger, into their arms and accepted
me exactly for what I was. I grew closer to some of the regulars in the scene during my last book; I could practically sing their songs along with them by the time I finished this one. One last thing of note: what you see here is not the final version of North DIYadelphia. Maggot House’s last show isn’t until the end of the month, and there are a few other shows at Church of the Advocate between now and then that I would like to include in the final project. This “scholastic edition” teaser is made specifically for my Documentary Photography class, with the goal of being as complete as possible to this point, but not claiming to be a final representation of the events of this semester. With that being said, please sit back and enjoy leafing through the pages of North DIYadelphia to get a peak of two of the most important places to me in this city. I hope seeing what I saw is as entertaining to you as it was for me.
About maggot house
Maggot House came to be 3 years ago, when a large group of college-aged kids decided to throw the best birthday celebration for one of their roommates after their house was robbed by having a personal show by the band Racecar. After this was successful, house tenants Alex Stackhouse and Mark Harper decided that having bands play in an accessible place like a basement or a living room was pretty cool, and began to host and book their own shows alongside other college-style parties. Named for an unfortunate trash-related incident that happened in their basement as freshman, Maggot House has changed from your typical overcrowded college
house with an absentee landlord to one of the most recognizable names in DIY music and creativity in North Philadelphiaâ€Ś and from a livable and sustainable dwelling to a shell of its former self. After deciding that their numbers are simply too large to sustain and that the beloved house has served its purpose, the Maggots are moving out in June to various locations in Fishtown. While the show space itself will be no more, the former tenants involved in booking shows and other creative outlets will continue to collaborate under the Maggot House name to continue to provide North Philadelphia with a fresh breath of creative output.
Acoustic shows are played in the house living room, right next to the kitchen, as shown above. Louder shows are hosted in the house basement.
Although the house landlord made them paint over the original living room artwork a few months ago, the group has kept the creative feel alive.
January 20th: TrafFic Nightmare, Abi reimold,
port arthur, InFinity crush, salvador rex
February 16th: a birthday show for christie mast
march 22nd: TrafFic Nightmare, cold fronts, grandkids
march 30th: roof doctor, Mariah welch, the choly
melons, salvatore rex, brown rainbow
april 20th: julia brown, iNFinity Crush, avery rosewater
church of the advocate
about church of the advocate
The Church of the Advocate, located at the corner of Diamond and 18th Streets, is a historic landmark that has seen better days. Many of the public rooms suffer from severe water damage and a strew of other issues; missing door handles, electrical wiring issues, and in some places, caved-in ceilings, to name a few. Despite the fact that the church is in an extreme state of disrepair in some areas, Reverend Renee McKenzie has not given up on it. Near the beginning of last fall semester, she met with Temple graduate and Campus Minister Rand Williamson, as well as Temple Student and churchgoer Abi Reimold, to seek their advice. Her goal? To make the Church a larger part of the local community. She wasnâ€™t even necessarily looking to convert anyone, either: nothing would make her happier than to have people interact with the church, to come
in and hang out with their friends, to make it a place that the community could feel welcome in no matter what religious beliefs they hold. Reimold pitched the idea to host benefit shows for local and touring bands, and McKenzie accepted. Now Reimold and Williamson, along with experienced showbooker Alex Stackhouse, host shows about once a month in an upstairs auditorium. While their first show was a fundraiser show only, the following shows have been successful enough to allow the trio to not only pay the church, but to also pay bands for performing as well. While it remains to see whether this show space will continue to grow, the group hopes to eventually be able to host multiple shows there a month and help with at least a part of the financial strain on the troubled building.
An example of some of the damage the Church currently suffers from.
The damage is worse in some areas than others.
January 16th: waldosia, kiddo marink, skin cells, chet williams
april 12th: moss, drunken suFis, netherfriends, rasputins secret police
Playing at Maggot House was always pleasant- I can’t say enough good things about the people that live there (well, I hope that’s the case, I’m moving in with a big chunk of them next year!). Their basement was super small and nothing exciting, but it turns into a vast void of magic whenever the right band plays there. I’ve had my fair share of wild shows at Maggot House, and it was a big chunk of my social life during most of college. It’ll be sad to see it go. The Church of the Advocate is a pretty recent addition to the Philly/Temple music scene, and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. The space is huge, but doesn’t feel unwelcoming. Everything sounds great, the people who run things are nice, and the bands that come play blow my mind sometimes. I’d highly recommend going to a show here or playing here... plus, the church is gorgeous. I would check it out for aesthetics, at the very least. –Chester Williams of the band “Chet Williams”
When Mark Harper asked if we [Traffic Nightmare] could play the first of three Maggot House “Spring Revue” shows, I was pretty surprised. We had played there before in two other forms: the first, me by myself, strumming my classical guitar for a stupid amount of people in the Maggot House living room. The second occasion was again an acoustic affair and again in the living room, but at least 3/4ths of the band was in attendance for that show (our drummer Colin could not escape the clutches of work, natch). The allure, and maybe the novelty, of the Spring Revue shows was that each bill was to be two bands, each playing for 45 minutes. We were to open for Cold Fronts and it was going to be awesome. I assembled a setlist of almost 16 songs, comprised mostly of new songs we’d been just beginning work on and old songs that we still liked. A few timed practices confirmed an appropriate set time and we set off from my house on foot for Maggot, since I only live three blocks down the street. As soon as I arrived, I knew the night would be
both weird and special. We heard rumblings that Cold Fronts would not only not be playing for 45 minutes, but would also be splitting their time with a band they’d been touring with from Chicago called Grandkids (a band who would eventually cover “Barracuda” so well during their set that it was worth the thorough embarrassment in telling them so). Despite not wanting to be “That Band That Nobody Cared About That Played 45 Minutes Before The Band That People Came To See Played 20 Minutes,” I figured that we had made a set list and we might as well stick to it. Two songs into the set, I had already lost my voice. Gone. Absent. Left the basement and went out the door. One of the allures of a basement show is that you’re not really there to hear lyrics or even really hear all of the music. It’s to be a part of an audience feeling the music and collectively feeling that sonic blast of chaos and confusion right in your fucking face until you can’t breathe or think straight. Or at least that’s how I look at it. I forgot about that on that night, and instead I simply yelled the words
as loud as I could go. The entire band had each had at least one beer each before the show, and unbeknownst to me, most of the band kept drinking throughout the performance. This turned us into a far more freewheeling machine than we were used to playing as, but it also made everything more fun. We shambled and stumbled and rumbled through our setlist, and I mentally checked off each song as they were each respectively brought to whatever rambunctious finale we could muster. We finished the set loudly, and I seem to remember shouting the words “BIG ROCK FINISH!” over and over again with the faint remains of my voice. I walked into the crowd and found out almost immediately that, to my horror, we had somehow just played an hour and fifteen-minute set. It seemed impossible, but Mark confirmed this suspicion soon afterwards. We felt like assholes for fifteen minutes or so, but we all agreed that we would probably never have that much fun playing a show again. –Kevin Stairiker, Traffic Nightmare
I first heard about Maggot House in 2010, and I didn’t even go to Temple. I was living in Scranton at the time, starting my senior year of college, pretty much completely unaware of Philadelphia, the DIY/punk scene, any of it. But, my Scranton friends, who had moved to Philly for college, started going to shows/parties there and one weekend, when I was visiting, they took me along with them. I don’t really remember when it was, I don’t remember who was playing- I actually don’t remember much of anything (a testament to a truly good night, I guess), I just know that my overwhelming impression was, “that was great.” I’d never been somewhere like that, it was a different kind of party (well, duh, it was a show), the people were more fun, more interesting, and the music was a hell of a lot better than what I was used to hearing at college parties.
Over the next year or so I visited a few more times, went to a few more events, and really enjoyed my time there, but never moved past being a casual attendee- I definitely couldn’t tell you the names of every one that lived there. Then, in early 2012 I packed up and moved to Philly, and this gave me ample opportunity to go to more shows, enjoy more of the culture that I’d had a taste of. I just kept hanging out, meeting friends of friends, having fun, getting to know people. Somewhere along the way, I feel like it was in the fall of 2012, I got invited to a show at the Church of the Advocate; again, I don’t remember who was playing (I never do), but it was a great space. It was nice to get away from the beloved dingy basement and in to a big, open room- listening to music and staring at children’s drawings and weird inspirational posters with animals on them. Plus, I’m always glad to pay for a show at the Church because
it’s a staple of the local community. By simply having shows in a space like that I feel like we stop being a bunch of college (age) students and start participating in Philadelphia as legitimate residents. It feels good and it’s just genuinely a fantastic space. So uh, I don’t know how it happened exactly over the last year and a half, but come July, when Maggot House is no more, I’m moving in with Jake, who lives there now, and Christie, who might as well live there. I’ve met some of my closest Philadelphia friends through this group of people. And that’s the best part to methe people. The music is awesome, the art is dope, everything that’s going on there is really cool, but the best part by far is the peoplemoving to a new city, I couldn’t have asked to meet a better group.” -Mikaela Maria
I feel like I have learned a lot about the house show culture and etiquette across this year and how I have felt well-integrated into the community. Playing at the Maggot House acoustic show was awesome because it was even more intimate than I expected and I think I enjoyed that more. Musicians come from all different walks but really the path to the Maggot House is pretty wide and there is room for everyone. I think those acoustic shows really encourage the diversity. The music Carolyn and I make and collaborate on is unique and obviously not meant for a punk basement show...so I was happy that there is still a place for us and that we are still appreciated. A nice feature and what I look for....if you are not afraid to show your openness as an audience than the performer will reveal his or herself the way they are meant to. -Morgan Carreon, The Coly Melons
Before this year, I kinda wobbled my way around the DIY music thing. In the awkward, “We’re Facebook friends, but are we friends? I hear there’s shows, but should I go?” state of uncomfortable existence. So aside from one drunken night/hung-over morning two years ago when I woke up on a Maggot House couch with no recollection as to how I’d gotten there or how the hell I was supposed to get home, my experience with Maggot House was non-existent. Then last fall I met Abi, who started inviting me to shows and introducing me to people and all of a sudden the people that were kind of known but unknown are now friends and I’m going to any show I can. The Maggot House where I first timidly watched and was inspired by musician after musician has now become a place to hang out as well as place to continue to be inspired. I guess Maggot House is the best example I have of DIY. Do whatever you want, play whatever you want, just respect the house and pay the cover. It’s a community that supports you just much as you support it. You can be an observer that watches the show and leaves or you can be
the doer, making music or working the door or taking photos, whatever, do it. And in the process you might go from the weird freshman that fell asleep on the couch, to Sarah who threw up on the carpet and needed to be tucked in (which is still weird, but I woke up to thanking Chris and wishing him a good day at work instead of “oh shit where am I” panic). We’re idiots, we make mistakes, we throw up on things, but it’s kinda like there’s this big net that’s there to catch you, throw you on the couch and give you a glass of water, that just so happens to be involved in fucking great music. Maggot House is coming to an end and yeah it’s kinda weird because I’m just getting started, but that’s what makes Church of the Advocate so cool. It’s like Maggot house on Steroids. It kinda started with the same people; you’d look around and see familiar faces, you had plenty of room to dance, maybe you’d get picked up and swung in a cradle of friends’ arms (hands down one of my favorite moments), but it keeps getting bigger and bigger to the point where at the last show I didn’t recognize most people and a dad drove his
daughter and her friends to see the show and this tiny community, this net (to keep the metaphor going longer than it should), is actually huge. These bands that maybe wouldn’t have been able to play in a Philly venue can play shows here and their fans are driving to see them and asking for autographs and it’s all just so unlegitimately legitimate that Amici and I, who were working the door, looked at each other and just laughed. It’s just weird that you can do what you want, how you want to do it, regardless of what society or venues say. As long as you work at it and draft friends into doing it with you, it can be successful. It’s the total antithesis to just about everything we’ve been taught, and it’s not only helped people who wouldn’t have otherwise been musicians, but it’s helped artists and photographers and the church itself. And that’s just really fucking rad. -Sarah Myers
the best has yet to come...