You know you’ve been to a 231 show when your ears are still ringing the next day.
One year after the 231 House of Muses lost its venue to a fire, the show which was slated for the evening of the blaze finally happened.
New, young faces peppered the crowd of Marquette fixtures, coming together on a Friday night in the North Star Academy cafeteria to see and hear staples of the local music scene. Construction lights spotlighted the bands, casting larger than life shadows on the wall behind the performers. Circuits blew from the high level of sound coming through the sound system, leaving bands to play in the dark until organizers rigged a fix. Circles of dancers whirled to feedback and intricate drumming. For one evening at least, 231 lived again.
Sycamore Smith opened the show, his signature devil-horned guitar lending his act a mischievous air. Smith’s original work is well known by this audience; the group sang along word for word with “Rosie Every Day of the Week” and “Hokum All Ye Faithful.” Tommy Kilometer and the Nautical Mile played next, with their blend of pop and progressive music wooing the crowd.
Rock/metal ensemble Son of Man followed, finishing their set with a metal cover of the Survivor classic “Eye of the Tiger.” Duct Ape, the brainchild of Jeremy Lancour and John Bloom, prefaced the headliner. Lancour was keyed up before the performance, saying he was happy to still be acknowledged.
“I’m happy to play the show I was meant to play,” he quipped.
Marquette veterans Hell Town Trio headlined the show. Ethan Debelak, a junior art and design major and long-time Trio fan, was in the front row for the entire set. “Hell Town hasn’t played in a long time, and it’s great to see people coming together to see them again,” he said.
Because the concert was the 231’s anniversary show, everyone talked about how the gallery used to be, what those who ran the gallery had been through and why they thought the 231 would continue to live on. Students from the North Star Academy were at the show in full force, excited to see a concert in their school.
Microbiology major Emily Durkin stressed the importance of what the 231 stands for.
“I think people had such a place there, after it was gone people always made sure to go to what the 231 was still trying to put together. There was always something for kids to do,” Durkin said.
Debelak agreed. “The heart of the 231 wasn’t in the building itself,” he said. “It was in the hearts of the bands and in the people at the shows. It wasn’t so hard to keep going, because a building is just a building.”
Although the 231 has garnered a checkered reputation after the loss of the building, those most involved with shows defend its purpose and its performances. Those who often attended 231 shows have a reputation for destroying buildings, underage drinking and smoking, which has hurt the willingness of venues to take a chance on a show.
231 House of Muses director Jesse DeCaire said that finding the venue is the hardest part of putting a show together.
“When I was a teenager, before the 231, it was always tough to find places to play and to see bands,” he said.
However, most people who attend concerts support the idea of having something for kids to do around town.
“Obviously something like this is needed in our community,” said Jeremy Lancour, a Marquette native and founding member of numerous bands around the community. “There will be negatives, but there will be far more positives.”
Most bands that play 231 shows are unable to play bar shows, and their fans usually can’t get in to see them anyway, due to drinking ages.
“The bands that are around started in house parties, so they might as well go back to that,” said junior media production major Tony Dutcher. “The bands that are around will always be followed by their fans, no matter where they play.”
As a commemorative concert, the show was a success. People talked about their experiences at the gallery, and hand-painted zines were available for purchase, combining stories from those who were most involved with the gallery. One year after the fire, the 231 is still going strong, giving a place to those with nowhere else to go and a stage to local acts.