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Issue Date: July 2014 Issue

House Party

Local house concert spaces offer a more intimate, causal experience.
Katy Witkowski

Love live music but hate the lines, bar tabs and tall people standing directly in front of your favorite singer? Then opt for a concert venue that's a little more comfortable: your neighbor's home. From comedians in the shower to punk acts in the basement, the intimate atmosphere makes house concerts a welcome trend — and unlike any local music club.

Without the normal barroom distractions, it's even better for the artists, suggests Joel Elvery, who has been hosting the Mechanic Street House Concerts with his wife, Lynn Phares, since they moved here from Washington, D.C., in 2007. "When they know someone is listening to them, they play better," he says.

With residents greeting you at the door with snacks and a bring-your-own-booze policy, you'll feel more like you're visiting a friend than going to a stranger's house. Step inside a few venues with us.

Euclid City Limits at the Conscious Nest

Vitals: $5 donation for adults, $2 donation for students; Euclid, 216-692-0325, House: The 1920s funeral home has become an arts-focused community center with the only resident being Zeus the cat. Vibe: With colored spotlights and white walls, the fresh space features local singer-songwriters such as Anita Keys and Isaac Littman. Folding chairs, tall soundboards and post-show hula-hooping enhance the visit. "This is a musician's club run by musicians," says founder Steve Mramor. "We ask everyone to turn off their cellphones, so you could hear a pin drop." Coming up: Watch Mramor and singer-songwriter Kara Kaufmann perform July 11 at 8 p.m.

Mechanic Street House

Mechanic Street House Concerts

Vitals: $15 donation; Ohio City, email for reservations and address; House: Elvery and Phares' 1910s-style home accommodates about 55 people. Vibe: A great acoustic space, the open living and side rooms (affectionately called Willie's room after a previous resident) feel like home with potted plants, picture-lined walls and abundant snacks. Duos and trios perform blues, Americana and sometimes jazz in front of a seated crowd. "Two months before Newport Folk Festival, Brown Bird played in our living room," Elvery says. Coming up: Nashville blues and folk band Smooth Hound Smith plays Aug. 1 at 8 p.m.

Dog House

Dag House

Vitals: $5 donation; Tremont, House: Four renters open their two-story house overlooking Tremont Park to visitors, sometimes as many as 120. Vibe: Bring your jean jacket and a case of beer. Punk, hardcore and metal acts such as Two Hand Fools and Sundials play in the grungy, string-lighted basement or tranquil back deck. When we visited, muted movies were playing in the living room for visitors looking for a break from the clamor. Stay for post-concert stand-up comedy in the bathroom. That's right, the spacious bathroom features jokesters doing everything but singing in the shower. Coming up: The alternative indie band Living Room plays with art-punk group 64Squares July 25 at 8 p.m.

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