Music Isn't Dead in this tiny CT town: Save the Space
While I've never "officially" lived in the state, Connecticut has been my hometown music scene for pretty much my entire life. I remember going into Hartford to the New England Dodge Music Center (now better known as the Xfinity Center) to see My Chemical Romance on the Black Parade Tour with Rise Against in 7th grade and thinking I was the coolest girl in middle school. I remember my best friend convincing her mom to drive us to the Webster to see All Time Low for her birthday and falling in love with Hit the Lights just 2 weeks after their iconic Skip School Start Fights album came out. I remember the whimsical feeling of catching Panic! at the Disco on the Honda Civic Tour in Wallingford at the Oakdale during their Pretty Odd album cycle, just months before their split from John and Ryan. I spent pretty much my entire childhood driving out the hour plus from New York because my parents would much rather drive than drag me around the city.
Fast forward a few awkward teenage years and I found myself in an Xterra bound for New Haven. While I wasn't going to school for music, I pretty much fooled half my family. Joining the University of New Haven's newspaper, the Charger Bulletin, I quickly found myself as music editor and exploring the New Haven music scene. If you've never come to New Haven for a show you are truly missing out on one of the most diverse and talented scenes out there. With so much to choose from and so many venues, from the legendary Toad's Place to the newest College Street Music hall and all the hole in the wall bars in between, this city has a heartbeat and it's always got some harmonies infused into its rhythm.
Not too far from New Haven (all of about a 20 minute drive) in Hamden you will find what I wholeheartedly believe is the hidden gem of Connecticut is The Space. To the untrained eye you may miss the tiny little venue that from the outside appears to be the size of a small cafe or restaurant with an adjacent structure, the Bar known as The Outer Space. Established in 2003, the listening room venue sits right in the heart of an industrial park and, "Exists to build a safe, positive community for all ages through music and the arts" as described on their website. From the checkerboard floor, to the 80's arcade upstairs along with "The Attic" a vintage boutique for all your vinyl and antique clothing needs, eclectic is the best way to explain this place. While I've only been frequenting The Space for about 3 years now, walking down the red carpeted stairs into the living room sized show floor puts me at ease every time; it feels like home.
The memories I've jam packed into this place in the short amount of time I've known it exists is ridiculous; Being the oldest person at a Before You Exit concert (besides the parents of all the tweens that were there), having a 40 minute conversation with Tyler of State Champs because I had a portable phone charger and his battery was dead, discussing with the Mowglis how they have an unlikely "beef" with Ronnie Radke of Falling in Reverse, being told by X Ambassadors that they can hear my "Upstate New York" accent....when I practically live in Westchester County...., hearing The Silence in Black and White straight through in a sold out crowd (which for The Space is about 150 people), and getting to hear Skip School Start Fights in its entirety as well, after getting Nick to sign my CD that I bought when I saw them 6 years prior at that show in Hartford. Interviews upon interviews with bands I've watched grow before my eyes; Misterwives, Brigades, X Ambassadors just to name a few. I really got my writing chops wet sitting upstairs in velvet couches and polyester chairs.
And the best part is that these artists aren't the shining stars of this venue....it's the locals. What really fuels this venue is the immense amount of local talent that fills the place on those Wednesday nights, those off weekends, those Sunday afternoon fundraisers for all the other amazing things that go on around here. Both The Space and its sister 21+ bar The Outer Space have been holding a wide variety of bands on a nearly constant schedule for years.
This past winter was a rough one for New England, as all my New Englanders can attest to. I don't think I had a full week of classes for months as we were pummeled with storm after storm of record breaking snow. This forced many places to cancel and reschedule shows, a major blow to such a small venue. "The winter of 2015 was a challenging financial time for The Space as many of our concerts here were cancelled due to inclement weather," it was explained through the Save the Space gofundme page, "This left The space with out the needed income to cover our costs of operation. Additionally a promoter from out of state who held events at The Space went out of business and didn't pay us for various events, which put us in an even tougher financial spot. The cost of doing business in the state of CT has greatly increased since we opened our doors in 2003 and we have constantly re-invented The Space with great passion and dedication, to adjust to these increasing costs as well as evolving with the ever changing music scene as well as adjusting to the constant shifts in what young people listen to and engage with. The Outer Space which is a separate business has been subsidizing the financial shortfalls that The Space has experienced, however The Outer Space cannot sustain subsidizing The Space as it will put The Outer Space in a compromised financial position."
Steve Rogers, Founder and Director for the space put out an additional statement, "Asking for help is a difficult thing for me to do and it is with a humble heart and great respect for this music scene that I am personally reaching out for help. I have been and remain devoted to providing a “safe haven” for people of all ages in our community. I have personally invested 80+ work hours a week and My family and I have made difficult sacrifices in order to keep the doors open at The Space. My Family and I are not in the financial position to self fund The Space and this is why we are seeking community help to help us keep the doors open. My Team and I are currently in the process of developing a much more sustainable business model for The Space so that going forward we can continue to bring great music to the Hamden / New Haven as well as continuing to provide a safe haven for the arts for people of all ages."
When someone asks for help, the CT music scene listens. In the past month since the Save the Space gofundme page has been open, $25,920 has been raised and that number keeps on growing with this weekends fundraiser at The Outer Space. If you are in the Connecticut area doors open both Friday and Saturday at 5pm with music from a wide variety of genres from local acts to begin at 5:30, it's pay what you want with a suggested donation of $10.
The Space is a shining example of how music isn't dead because the community refuses to let it die.
To help contribute to the cause head on over to Gofundme: Save the Space and to check out the current lineup at both The Space and The Outer Space check out the links below!
Ashley Winward Lead Reporter