The LAB in Missoula, MT by Jackson Wiese

I want to tell you a small story. In a dirty drunk college town, with
a BNSF hop off, with the motto of “Keep Missoula Weird” there are a
lot of messy kids, the down and out, the renegade artists, the hungry
dumpster divers, etc. There was one house that stood for decades.

In the last 8 years it got a reputation for being the place people would find piles of beer cans, halloween decorations from year’s past, a
library that had been picked barren, and the loudest house shows; the
kind that left ears ringing for days. This place was called the Lab. Nestled between businesses, there was never any complaints about the

10969_172261967098_4238404_n PA destroying sleep. The cops were aware, but never wanted to get into
the hornet’s nest of the house show crowd. It was a small paradise in
a strange little mountain town that let the house thrive.

 

But this Summer was it’s last hoorah. I moved in late in its cycle,
and I’d been going to this house for 4 years. First time seeing RVIVR
and the Hail Seizures, and falling terribly in love with it. Like any
hick state, the trashfires warmed a whole crowd of drinkers and the
basement was covered in a canvas mural, and there was a black flag
with a a lab rat painted on it, proclaiming its name to all who
entered. That basement was packed, it’s low ceiling had the marks of
rowdy crowds in the form of fist sized holes, and every show your
shoes were caked in some sort of combination of drywall and spilled
beer and your own (?) sweat. I adored this.

Waiting on the porch while housing up some acquaintances, a man from
the property management company asked for the leaseholder and everyone
froze. Of the 15 people on lease, one being dead but the landlord
refused to take his signature off the lease agreement, only one was
living there. I went up to see what the letter said and it was a
notice of vacation. Vacate this place in 2 months, it said. This was
the drunkest loudest impromptu party that could have happened. It
wouldn’t stop for those two months, we swore. We swore to move the
zine library and make an infoshop. We promised 2 months of shows,
calling it Total Eviction Fest. We even mulled over occupying the
space until October, when they couldn’t evict us from the spot due to
the harsh weather. We imagined a line of homebums in tents defending
the spot, because hell, they hate cops even more than we do! But
during this whole panic we looked across the yard, at the 8 years of
mess, at the shack, at the pizza oven that had apparently been erected
one calm night, and we were devastated that it was all going away.

I had a few different thoughts than that of my housemates and the
concertgoers: There’s always a place like this. If there’s an absence
of it, someone will invite a band that they find looking for a show to
play in their basement, their living room, and it’ll blow up. It may
get away with it for a month, it may get away with it for 2 minutes,
but it’ll be a start to something new. As long as there’s a void like
this, someone will do their damndest to fill it. Now, the only outlet
for DIY music is the bar scene and a screen printing collective, but
less than a week before the landlord came into my room while I was
sleeping one morning, talking to me about where everyone is, if that
car is going to get towed, oh you have that pickup? would you mind
taking the cans? I played a house show at a distant friend’s house.
Living room electric shows, randos showing up on the steps, my
acoustic shouting at the ceiling to a pair of packed couches and
hoots, it was everywhere. And this is why house shows just can’t go
away, they always spring up, and no one can stop it. Every place with
a house like the Lab will lose it eventually, and every place can have
a house just like it. In the last month, I’ve seen people fill that
void by inviting those bands and spreading all over town. It’s
beautiful, and just because this one house is gone doesn’t mean I
should leave and find a better town, it means the weight is on the
whole place’s shoulders to make it their own again.

If you think it’s worth expanding a bit, this is just my viewpoint on
4 years of houseshow fun, and there’s countless other people I can
talk to and find their times, and their ideas, about this spot in
Missoula, MT.

Jackson Wiese

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1 comment
  1. woah- flashback!
    sorry for always wrecking your house and keeping you up all night.
    i loved -and still love – so many of you punks. don’t fuck with gary.
    xo
    jeff (HAIL SEIZURES/SHARKPACT)

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