By Alyssa Michener
Photos by Celeste Fuentes
Video by Alyssa Michener, Zephyr Sheedy and Julian McBain
With my iPhone flashlight guiding me, I walked through a narrow alley and eventually found my way to a flight of unstable steps that led to the Plum Dungeon venue. When I enter house shows, I am usually met with anxiety from drunken bodies unknowingly thrashing into me, but this one was different. Soft, colorful lights mixed perfectly with the dreamy, abstract visuals that were created by Mitchell Craft, which projected behind the musicians. I had entered a microcosm of harmonious bliss– an ethereal vibe that Spencer Graves had purposefully created.
Spencer curated the show to feature a number of local artists including WaBEYA, Jafar (with Dan Mango as Verbena Blossom), 3 Legged Dog, Cold Beaches, and their own performance persona: Cupid McCoy. The intention behind the show, aside from the music, was to create an experience.
“There’s a mystic sensation when you, as a performer, are able to create and invite others into a space that you feel is part of a greater work you are developing,” Graves said.
“It becomes not so much ‘how do I convey this sentiment through song?’ but ‘how can this room tell the same story as my song?’”
The uniquely experiential house show was representative of the DIY mentality that has been emblematic of the underground music scene. From conception to execution, the show was a safe space for self-expression and advocation. The crowd was hushed as Graves reminded everyone to be respectful of each other, the musicians, and to prioritize the space of queer individuals and people of color. The event was intended to highlight musicians that perform from an authentic place and not for monetary compensation. Graves attributed this to a quality in musicians that has created music as a form of therapy– performing because they love it and feel the need to share their work.
“The DIY scene is an opportunity for artists and musicians, who might not otherwise have a platform to share their art, to feel comfortable being in front of a crowd and opening up their hearts in an intimate setting for those that are receptive,” Graves said.
“Of course, this is a truly idealistic image, and not often how it goes in reality, it’s often interrupted by folks who see shows as parties and, intentionally or not, silence and speak over individuals. DIY is about representation, and the whole intention is that if established venues won’t or cannot display the art of these artists, we’ll do it ourselves.”
They have since released an album titled “Major Crush” and are releasing a lookbook for their streetwear fashion line, “Big Hearts Club.” Hopeful, Spencer said that they are excited to write upcoming songs.
“It’s spring, flowers are blooming, the future is looking bright,” they said.
To listen to their album, visit https://cupidmccoy.bandcamp.com/
You can also find them on Spotify or iTunes by searching “Cupid McCoy”
For future updates about their music and collection, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cupidmccoymusic/
Links to the rest of the performers’ music:
3 Legged Dog