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Photos: DIY music and IC underground house shows


A few years back, I visited Iowa City for the first time and went to an electronic show at a house that’s nicknamed the “Breast Imagining Center.”

A small group of people were gathered around the fire outside drinking beer from John’s Grocery, waiting for the show to start. When we heard the first muffled sounds beginning a set of music, we headed downstairs to a dimly lit basement where colored lights flickered with the synthesizer’s pulse.

While bigger venues in Iowa City such as Blue Moose, The Mill and Gabe’s (upstairs) bring in acclaimed touring bands, a subterranean network of local musicians are involved in the self-sufficient music scene. --  photo by Zeynab Ghandour
While bigger venues in Iowa City, such as Blue Moose, The Mill and Gabe’s (upstairs) bring in popular touring bands, a subterranean network of local musicians take part in a self-sufficient music scene. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Local musician Ryan Beck of Suspect performing at The Sauna. --  photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Local musician Ryan Beck of Suspect performs at The Sauna. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour

House shows happen throughout the year and take place mostly in Iowa City basements. These alternative venues have different names, such as “The Breast Imagining Center,” “The Rectory,” “The Sauna” and “Dog Mansion” where many diverse and eccentric local acts perform, often with touring bands, in a variety of music genres including noise, industrial, punk and experimental.

Patrick Scott-Walsh of The Pen Test playing in Iowa City in October. --  photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Patrick Scott-Walsh of The Pen Test plays a DIY Iowa City in October, 2014. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Touring band Lala Lala’s music and merch table. --  photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Touring band Lala Lala’s music and merch table. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour

An intimacy exists between the performers and the audience members at house shows — one that established venues often cannot achieve.

Nillbodies’ “last show” --  photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Nillbodies’ “last show” — photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Each different house has its own crowd of regulars, but as the Iowa City music scene continues, there are crossovers between groups and a seasonal influx of fresh talent and listeners. --  photo by Zeynab Ghandour
Each house has its own crowd of regulars, but as the Iowa City music scene continues, there’s plenty of crossover between groups, and a seasonal influx of fresh talent and listeners. — photo by Zeynab Ghandour


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