Reno’s music scene aims to create a space for younger musicians

In the renovated basement of Fort Ralston, a house on Ralston Street near the University of Nevada, Reno, concertgoers crowded as close as possible to the bands. Their goal was to get a good view of the stage, a small area near the back of the basement that is loaded with speakers, microphones and other musical equipment. The costume party-style show hosted a solo act and two bands, Head Stone and Evening Spirits.

Head Stone is a two-piece shoegaze rock duo formed by Jake Lorge and Matt L’Etoile. Shoegaze is a subgenre of indie and alternative rock focused on an ethereal sound through obscured vocals, distortion and playing with the power of music. It originated in the UK and Ireland in the late 1980s.

Lorger and L’Etoile have been playing together since high school when they formed their first band, Tresed. The Reno music scene provided both opportunities to make connections with other artists.

“We’ve been in it since 2016, 2015. Almost 10 years. I mean, we never had any problems; it was always a nice experience. We met people, made friends, met a lot of cool people in different groups. And there’s a lot of love in the Reno music community,” said Lorge.

Although the members of Head Stone are now old enough to play all the venues in Reno, they said there aren’t many all-ages venues for younger musicians who want to play their music. When they were in high school, the two reached out to The Holland Project, a local nonprofit that puts on all-ages shows at their venue.

“I’m glad we have Holland because it’s a good place for all ages that’s very accessible,” L’Etoile said. “When we were younger, that was the only place we played because it was really all we knew, and it’s kind of hard to play bars when you’re 16 or 17.”

That sentiment was echoed by Evening Spirits, an indie band consisting of four members: Jonathan Grube, Jacob Manayan, Jude Lopez and Wyatt Bonham.

Grube remembers how influential Holland was in his high school years, before the creation of Evening Spirits.

“I went to The Holland Project when I was 12 with my mum; I really don’t remember that much. But it has been like the present all our lives,” he said.

Besides The Holland Project, there are house venues like Fort Ralston, but even house venues are rare for younger bands. The biggest problem facing the Reno music scene is a lack of access, said Holland Associate Director Alanna Berglund.

“I think there’s definitely a lack of access for younger people who are encouraging the scene. I think there is a lack of space for people who are younger to train and rehearse. There aren’t many houses with play basements anymore,” she said.

However, the Reno scene makes up for its struggles with a strong community.

“There are difficulties, of course, but I think we’re actually really fortunate to have that and we actually have something that the bigger markets don’t have, which is like a little bit more of a community where we know each other, we’re involved with each other, we’re sad for each other,” Berglund said.

Evening Spirits and Head Stone also believe the Reno music scene is involved and makes an effort to support local artists. There are opportunities for smaller artists to bring their work to the public eye.

“The good thing about Reno is that it’s not too crowded and big, that people just come out because they want to see shows; want to get involved in the community. It’s great that people in Reno care about the scene. I feel like it feeds off that way,” Grube said.

As the music scene looks for opportunities to create more inclusive spaces for artists, other non-profit organizations are looking for venues. The Reno Punk Rock Flea Market is a non-profit community organization dedicated to supporting the arts and music scene in Reno by hosting weekend flea markets where vendors and musicians can promote their work in an all-ages environment. It’s an important way to promote inclusion and introduce younger people to music, said co-founder Jesse “Sprocket” Giannuse.

“It’s a really big deal for us because we were those young punk kids. And we are very committed to continuing to create these spaces,” she said.

Janusee said the nonprofit is looking for a venue to host more shows, and they will continue to promote newer artists to the music scene with their recurring show, Neutral Ground.

“Anyone can sign up to play. We give preference to newer bands, younger bands. Besides, a lot of them just know each other, right? And they are connected. So a band will play and then they’ll tell their friends like, ‘Oh, you should play at Neutral Ground,'” she said.

The Reno Punk Rock Flea Market hopes to create better access to the music scene for people and bands of all ages. Although The Holland Project shares that sentiment, Berglund said support for the scene is still strong.

“I really think the music scene here is really great and artists can feel that and see it, especially when they play in Holland or even play a DIY show here. Audiences are special; the audience is engaged; the audience is excited,” Berglund said.

KUNR’s Sophia Holm is a student at the Reynolds School of Journalism.

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