Over the past year, a Columbia home has hosted concerts with up-and-coming bands through the video streaming platform Twitch.
It’s part of a series of shows from the venue dubbed “At The Addition” – housed in a literal addition built on top of a house. The series is nearing the end of its third concert season, having debuted in February 2021.
Born amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it now finds its place among the return of the pre-pandemic global music scene – concerts that take place with crowds packed into dimly lit concert spaces, neon lights flashing around them and guitar strums and drum beats echo around.
Indeed, local venues like Columbia’s New Brookland Tavern and the Senate have seen concerts return in force, with some acts selling out. And this is not a new phenomenon.
For example, New Brookland hosted Asheville indie rocker Indigo De Souza in November and the cozy space was filled to near capacity; more recently, shows by artists like Bilmuri have drawn similar crowds.
Still, At The Addition co-founder Austin Syms doesn’t see the return of live in-person shows as a reason to lose faith in the concert-streaming model.
The series played its most recent show on May 8 with Yellow Boots, and Syms said in an interview with Free Times that they plan to continue hosting new streaming concert seasons. He postulated that this fulfills an important need for emerging bands, as they offer well-produced live recordings of each band’s concert, which, according to a participating band, can then be used to help them build their profile and book future shows.
“I want this to become a Columbia institution, as do everyone involved,” Syms said. “I think we’re all invested and we’re not going to stop.”
Comprised of a team of around 20 volunteer crew members (only around 10 work on a show and active participants fluctuate based on availability), the shows draw between 50 and 100 viewers during streams, with more to come. on the videos available online after.
Colombian indie-pop band Rex Darling played a show At The Addition, its organizers being friends of the band, and its lead singer Catherine Hunsinger praised the experience, which she said had significantly improved her production since her debut.
The stream helps them connect with fans or newcomers to the band who might not be able to attend their shows, she said, and the resulting video is especially important for participating bands. . It can be used to promote the band and, in some cases, as a means of self-criticism of their live performance.
These benefits are significant because At The Addition does not offer payment to bands, but instead offers the streaming show, subsequent recording, and sustenance during the performance day as compensation.
“I guess the media world of social media is becoming so reliant on video content,” Hunsinger explained. “A lot of venues that book artists that they haven’t booked before (want to) so they can see what your performance looks like, what your live sound looks like, versus what the studio stuff looks like .”
At The Addition also stands out in its pattern, as many gigs and streaming opportunities have dwindled as live shows have returned.
Carlin Thompson, booker and sound engineer for New Brookland Tavern, said he was unfamiliar with many of the other streaming concert series left over from the pandemic era, noting that many helped pay artists when the broadcasts did not take place.
“I think for the most part I don’t know of a single site that still does that,” he said. “As soon as the physical shows came back, they stopped doing it.”
He suggested that At The Addition could follow the model done by Audiotree, a live music recording series that bills recorded shows as “sessions” rather than concerts.
The series has also been a boon to Syms and other behind-the-scenes volunteers. He said it helped him turn to a career in video production and helped others do the same. Syms admitted he wondered if their pool of volunteer help might dwindle over time, but he was able to reassure himself as more and more people became interested in helping out over time.
“The crew is always on the move, but that’s one of the most interesting things in my opinion,” he said.
Syms thought the series was set to expand in the future, noting that a band from Virginia had asked to perform. They were hoping to start having seasons with around three to four months between each.
“We’re looking to expand our range of musicians, we still have a slew of musicians who haven’t played yet…we’re not stopping, we’re just getting started,” he concluded.