The Porch is a House Show Venue With It's Own Scene, And It's Own Record Label
Courtesy Casey Terrazas The Porch Party gang
On a recent Friday night, up-and-coming Long Beach hip-hop duo the Natives began placing their equipment in a draped corner of Casey Terrazas' living room as nearly 100 friends mingled in anticipation.
Some stood in the kitchen and noshed on homemade hummus and spanakopita, while on the stoop, others sipped craft beer. Still others filled the small front yard of the Fourth Street house known to local artists and music fans as the Porch.
Before the Natives launched into one of their lyrically conscious, DJ-backed tracks, however, a Long Beach police cruiser pulled into the middle lane of the street--ordinarily a buzzkill for any house show. But this isn't your typical house.
Terrazas nicely guided people out of his front yard and into the living room as he went out to greet the officer, who seemed surprised by the orderly crowd.
"The cop looked at me and looked at everyone walking back inside and rolled down her window and said, 'Thanks' and drove off," Terrazas recalls. "We've been very pointed in the past to tell [the local police] it's an art event, it's about the music, and this is what we're doing--just to make sure they know. I don't know if that translates or not, but we deal with the cops at every show, and it's only a 30-second interaction, and then they're gone as long as everyone is inside."
Since 2009, the Porch has been a gathering place for Long Beach's diverse artistic community, the three-bedroom house just off Long Beach's Retro Row hosting free concerts, poetry readings, art exhibitions, listening parties and other creative events that are well-attended by the city's hipster denizens.
Terrazas originally rented his room at the house sight-unseen while still living in Phoenix, but he knew he had moved into the perfect homespun venue as soon as he entered the expansive, high-ceilinged front room and saw its connected kitchen and dining room.
Though his roommates at the time didn't see his vision for hosting concerts in their living space, he soon began to move in those who did. A performance by well-known noise-pop singer/songwriter Emperer X in July 2010 was so spectacular and the response so positive, Terrazas says, that he knew he had to continue hosting shows for bands he admires. (Emperer X soon moved into a tent in the back yard, furthering the place's music cred.)
Because his job finds him spending several months of the year living in the Bay Area, Terrazas often brings down Northern California bands to play, and friends from around the world have performed at or visited the house, adding exponentially to the tangled web of influences that have come through its door.
The real magic of the Porch, though, is what happens when there is no event planned. Most days, local bands use the cleared-out living room to practice and record, and by evening, Terrazas and his current musician roommates, Zach Mabry and Joel Jasper, are often joined by passersby and out-of-town friends on the front porch, where records are listened to and new projects are casually formed.