by Jeff Radon, the Dad
Each year I try to reflect on the things that happened around the Radon Lounge. This isn’t a list of the best things that happened, it’s just a list of things that happened. I’m probably forgetting something really cool, but these things were cool, too
1. Farewell Chase Abner Chase had a good run at the Springfield indie basement scene before fame and fortune called him to another town far away. It’s so exciting when someone comes along and just “gets it” and wants to do whatever they can to help a little basement venue thrive. Chase put together the cover shows and one of the first bands birthed out of the Radon gases, Brother Phoenix. We miss this guy.
2. Moving a show last minute due to snow. Our February show got hit with some big snow, which doesn’t work well with our location. The out of town bands were on their way and we had a decision to make. Either just cancel the show and put the bands up for the night, paying the guarantees; Or find another venue. Our friends at BXS were already hosting a show, but fortunately Lakeside Christian Church came through for us. We put on a show in their small auditorium and people still came! Even with the last minute change in plans and impending doom snow, we still had lots of people and it was a great show. Thanks to Otis the Destroyer from Austin, TX and Von Strantz for taking a chance, as well as Springfield bands The Locals, and Rella.
3. Sufjan Stevens No, I didn’t host Sufjan Stevens. I just wanted to call this out. I was fortunate to see Carrie and Lowell performed live, perhaps the best show of my life. This is important to the Radon as there comes a point where you’ve “acheived” all you can do as a venue promoter. Once the excitement and thrill has run its course, do you quit because it’s not as exciting to bring in awesome bands from out of town and have a space for local bands to play? At some point, does it just become work with no reward? I hope not, but I think this factors in why many venues quit. Venues get pressure from all sorts of folks, and running one can be a very emotional ride for the owner and promoters. It’s a labor of love, as there is definitely no money to be made doing this. All this being said, Sufjan Stevens’ music is one of the many things that keeps me inspired.
4. Looming at BXS 10 year reunion I think my biggest memory from attending shows at the Black Sheep Cafe this year (Springfield’s only full time all ages venue), was all the feels when Looming performed their first recorded song “Definition of Home” after playing their new stuff from their recently signed album “Nailbiter”. Playing that song at a show already heavy with sentiment just seemed like a huge moment for the Springfield scene. This year had a lot of things happen. Kevin Bradford stepped down after running Black Sheep for 10 years. Looming was signed to No Sleep Records and keeps touring the heck out of the country. More local venues closed, and of course many new bands were formed, disbanded and reformed in the ongoing sea of creativity.
5. Mini horse show We had a good thing going with the Horse Show, our annual big Summer mini-fest. Last year we did 2 stages and 20 bands at our favorite local non-profit, Refuge Ranch. This year however the Ranch was changing locations and it just didn’t make sense to try to do the full Horse Show. So, we did something else pretty fun. We brought a mini-horse from the Ranch to hang out at a benefit show to help support Refuge Ranch. This may be the only time a horse appears at a Radon Lounge basement show.
6. Christmas Explosion We always do a show called the Christmas Explosion, and it’s always a little different as it’s half Christmas party/half show. This year, some very like minded individuals came on board. We were very excited to host Levi The Poet, Dan Smith of Listener, and Kris Rochelle of Red Sweater Lullaby. We had potluck, bingo, and plenty of songs to share together. It was a perfect show to end the year.
7. AudioFeed Once again AudioFeed was very refreshing. I’m so excited to be a part of this. This festival happens every year in Urbana, IL for 5 days and is kind of fashioned off the old Cornerstone festival. I help by hosting one of the stages. The Radon Lounge stage at AudioFeed is very much like the Radon Lounge basement shows, just runs from 7am-2am multipl days straight. This year we hosted one of my personal favorites, Waterdeep, as well as many friends we’ve made over the last few years, and made new musical friends. It’s basically just a big family reunion where you have all your friends come play music for you.
8. JB killing it on pictures. I really appreciate the help and talents of others who put their time into making the Radon Lounge a legit place to be. JB really kills it on photography as he is there at almost every show taking pictures, editing, and loading up our flickr photostream.
9. Mike Yotter killing it on sound. Mike is our goto sound technician. He’s run everything from singer-songwriters to 7′ harps to 12 person horn bands. We definitely put him to work with our cobbled up PA system and super eclectic lineups. Bonus points to Mike every time an artist forgets their guitar cable, dead batteries, or someone wants to try a new synth/pedal/doodad for the first time on stage.
10. Cat killing it on art design and baby handling Cat is the Radon Mom. She not only looks good, but makes the Radon look good with her artwork. She makes just about all the show posters that you see as well as takes care of lots of other things behind the scene, like this website. She also does a pretty good job of keeping our son from sticking chewed up pretzels in people’s guitars.
11. Apryl killing everyone in the kitchen. Killing with love. Apryl is our CEO of hospitality. She does lots of cooking throughout the year. Not only at AudioFeed artist hospitality, but also for all of our shows in general. It seems half of our preparation is for the show itself, and the other half is hospitality for artists before and after. Apryl is an accomplished vegan cook and can work with any of the random allergies/diets our artists may have. We pay a lot of attention to the needs of those coming here to perform and we want them to feel awesome so they then perform awesome, making the crowd feel awesome. Basically because Apryl is awesome, everything else turns out awesome. Awesome.
12. Open Mics – so many new faces We host 2 Open Mic nights each year, usually spring and fall.Typically you would set your expectations a bit lower attending an open mic vs a regular show. But our Open Mics turn out just as good. There is a ton of variety and I always end up discovering some new talent. I love doing these things, plus it gives many more local folks a chance to play. I thought this year was especially thick with new discoveries at the Open Mics.
13. Garden Party The Garden Party show has become a Radon tradition. We call it the garden party, as people can check out our backyard vegetable garden, but really it’s just an excuse to try to keep people from thinking how hot and sweaty they are in an August basement show with no a/c. I usually put up a misting fan outside to help people cool off and book some extra fun bands. This year was a really fun with Mr Nasti and The Mailboxes, along with local bands Blind Social and Built In A Day.
14. Fel Fae – best new local discovery I booked Fel Fae for a very laid back show. I just wanted to sit and veg. I didn’t actually get a chance to see this band perform before I booked them, which is kind of risky. I had a feeling it would be good. It was good. Fel Fae is an instrumental band, kind of post rock, kind of ambient, kind of jazzy. The thing I noticed the most was how well they were tuned into each other. I really can’t wait to see this band again, and I hope they’ll get some recordings released as there isn’t much out there about them at the moment. Do it guys, at least one Dad in a basement is rooting for you!
15. Zoo – most memorable set I was really excited when Zoo said they would come play. I just sent them a message, shot in the dark. Zoo isn’t a well known band by any means, I just knew him from a different band, The Saudades. The last time the Saudades played the Radon, we sat in the basement after the show and listened to this new project. We were all amazed and really hoped he would do something with it. Zoo actually drove from Cincinnati to perform and drove back that night, basically that’s 10 hours of driving to just play a 30 minute set. It was worth it with all the wet eyes and feels. These songs are so good, hope you take a minute to listen.
I’m starting to plan 2016 and am super excited to keep doing Radon Lounge, onward to year 5!