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Published on October 27th, 2014 | by Jessica Mickey


In the House: Pop-Up Charleston’s Homegrown Series Thrives

It’s not an uncommon to hear people lament over their perceived state of the local music scene in Charleston. To that, I can’t help but always think, “If it’s not where you want to be, don’t bitch — do something about it.” It seems that this kind of proactive mindset is shared and has helped drive the resurgence of sweaty, bombastic house shows all over the peninsula.


Charleston band Orange Doors (provided)

One collective that has taken it upon themselves to set it off is Pop-Up Charleston, founded and maintained by a group of forward-thinking and enthusiastic College of Charleston students. According to Katie Jones, who just recently joined up with the group this fall, Peter Spearman, Matt Navey, and Addi Green began organizing shows in Kevsco Alley, which, at the time, was located outside Spearman and Navey’s apartment. When the two up and left the old apartment in the summer of 2014, the name and concept of Pop-Up Charleston came to fruition.

“Pop-Up Charleston was dreamed up to be a series of house shows popping up [hence the name] all over downtown Charleston,” Jones, a CofC sophomore biology major, explains. “We hope to incorporate many different locations inside and outside in order to turn Charleston into the music town it could and should be.”


Ghetto Hexes (provided)

“Charleston is home to a lot of great local bands and young talented students who just want exposure,” Green, a CofC junior English and art history major, adds. “There is no short supply of artists looking for a place to play just to get their name out there. People, college kids in particular, find house shows more intimate, friendly, and causal and enjoy them at a lower cost to their wallet and schedule.” She also sites “excess of talent versus lack of space” as a reason house shows are seeing a big resurgence.

Some people may understandably be a little weirded out to go into a strangers’ home to catch a local or traveling act, but the group knows the advantage of house shows come down to location and cost (and the option of BYOB helps, too). “[The shows] are free to the people attending [though a donation at the door is suggested] and typically low cost to those who host,” says Jones. “It’s less exclusive. Instead of going to a really big, really expensive concert with just a few friends, you can now bring all the friends you like and spend relatively no money.”

Pop-Up Charleston prides itself in setting up their shows for altruistic reasons over monetary, giving all the donations collected to the musicians on the bill. For them, the entertainment, getting to know the bands, and watching the attendees interact with the performers is payment alone.

The group regularly books and hosts shows around town, citing past pop-ups with Michael Flynn, Heyrocco, and Steven Fiore as memorable stand-outs. Recently, they hosted local acts Mr. Jenkins and Electric Grandma, and this Wednesday (Oct. 29), partnering up with CofC Center Stage, they’ll present a costume-encouraged show with synth group Ghetto Hexes (from Portland, Oregon), punk outfit Casio Mio (from Columbia), and local kids Orange Doors at the “Pink Palace” (6A Hanover Street). The best way to find out what they have coming up is through their Facebook page.


Casio Mio (provided)

Pop-Up Charleston is just one in a handful of groups and individuals organizing their own house shows around town. A solid resource on what’s going down is the Facebook group page the HSC (House Shows of Charleston).

If you want to host your own show, Jones can’t recommend Facebook enough for getting the word out. She also advises, “Be communicative with the artist; make yourself available to answer any questions they might have. They are probably just as nervous as you are.” Spearman, a CofC senior theater and English major, adds, “Don’t underestimate set up and clean up time.”

Above all else, Pop-Up Charleston believes that collaboration, an open mind, and mutual support are the keys to help Charleston’s growing music scene continue thriving.

Navey, a CofC senior studio art and creative writing major, believes their hearts are in the right place. “We want to communicate that it’s not about the venue or the social group that you subscribe to,” he says, “It’s about the music.”

Pop-Up Charleston and College of Charleston Center Stage present Ghetto Hexes, Casio Mio, and Orange Doors at 6-A Hanover Street at 9 p.m. on Wed. Oct. 29. Donations are encouraged and appreciated. Visit facebook.com/popupcharleston for more.



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About the Author

Jessica Mickey

has considered Charleston home since she first moved here in 2001. She regularly performs improv at Theatre 99 and dabbles in stand-up comedy in various venues around the Lowcountry. Jessica has also cohosted morning radio shows on 96Wave and 98X, as well as wrote the weekly column "The Chase is On" for the Charleston City Paper. She can barely play the ukulele Ballard bought her for Christmas last year, but after a couple of drinks, she can sing the shit out of some karaoke.

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