The room is blue-lit, and students with Birkenstocks and Chacos in eclectic combinations of fishnets and flannel bob their heads and sway in place as the first strains of electric guitar reverberate from the small stage. It’s Sept. 14, 10 p.m. on a Friday night, and Colorado College band Honour Council is beginning their first song for the inaugural concert in the new B-Side Collective space.
It’s an eccentric place. Paint cans and splattered newspapers litter the entryway, while a half-finished mural of a face stares down from the wall. Bean bags, bright colors, disco lights, and instrument cases fill multiple small side rooms, and band posters and record labels are stuck to the walls. An “Abolish Columbus Day, Honor Indigenous People’s Day” poster hangs from a back wall, while the words “secret enchanted broccoli forest” are spray painted on a side room wall, next to colorful splotches depicting what is presumably broccoli. A cardboard sign asking “What shud be in this room??” is propped up on a table, and the sheet below suggests a “plant room (we can serenade the plant bbs!)” It’s a space in transition: previously a laundromat, this building on the east side of North Tejon, less than a block from campus and kitty-corner to La’au’s Taco Shop, has been an ITS office, storage space, and empty building before entering its current iteration as an inclusive music space by and for CC students.
Lena Farr-Morrissey ’19, one of the coordinators, said that the “CC music scene and community felt inaccessible and exclusive,” in terms of gender inequality and lack of marginalized groups, specifically. The B-Side Collective — designed for students to hang out, jam in, attend workshops and concerts, and connect with other musicians — was formed with the intention of making music more accessible to all.
Farr-Morrissey’s band, Honour Council, followed an hour later by Cedar Sap, a band based in Olympia, Wash. and currently on tour. As part of the Friday night party circuit, groups of students wander into the event, gravitating toward couches that line the back of the main room. A girl juggles near the door, while a guy lies on the floor, drawing branches on the wall in permanent marker. “Why are people sitting? We need to fill up this space!” exclaimed someone in a crowd of older students who danced into the room and hugged Farr-Morrissey and other band members.
As Honour Council began to play, Farr-Morrissey told the crowd to stand up “so it actually feels like 50 people are here!” People obediently shuffled to their feet and began to groove along to the music as Farr-Morrissey’s guitar and soft vocals reached the room. Even so, the fire safety limit for the building is only 49 people, and the crowd was in constant flux as groups entered and left.
Groups of students left at the intermission, or wandered into the adjoining rooms to relax on bean bags and add to the entryway mural. When Cedar Sap began to play a similar style of psychedelic rock led by female vocals, there were only a small group of students left, clustered together in front of the stage. It was intimate, if a little awkward, as people on the edges of the crowd were uncomfortably aware of all the empty space behind them.
“I was pleased that students are stoked about live music,” Farr-Morrissey said afterwards. But she admits that the fire code is a problem, one that she’s working to fix. “Fifty people did not take up very much space,” she explained. “I am currently working on methods to increase the capacity, because our mission strives for accessibility, not exclusivity.”
The day after the concert, Cedar Sap and Honour Council jammed for a few hours in the building. “To me, that is part of what B-Side is about,” Farr-Morrissey said. And it’s something that will soon be available to other students, as more people undergo training and receive swipe access to the building, allowing anyone to come in throughout the day to jam or just hang out.
Upcoming workshops and various events are in the works. This October, Gwen Wolfenbarger ’19, on tour with her solo project Seal Eggs, will be performing in a B-Side-sponsored event at Shove Chapel. “It will be a magical time!” Farr-Morrissey says.