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Saturday, May 8, 2021

Not your typical house party

The fenced yard and attached porch are scattered with furniture and filled with people. By the  gate, cigarettes are shared along with a bag of Doritos. Beside them, a student collects the $3 cover charge and marks their hands with orange highlighter.

Everywhere you look, someone is shouting a greeting at someone nearby. A tall man known as “White Jesus” bends down to talk to a shorter woman. Everyone seems to know someone else. Everyone’s waiting for the music.

After 20 minutes, a student comes out to announce the first band is about to start. The crowd pours into the small doorway, through the kitchen, and back into the living room, where a corner has been converted into a makeshift stage.

“What’s cool about places like The Mind Palace is they are a great place for our younger students to come see local talent and local music in a space that isn’t encouraging them to be reckless.”

Ben Crabill

This is The Mind Palace: a house that doubles as a music venue.

Junior Ben Waight, a blond crooner, said his band, The Dawn Bombs, had some of their first performances at the house.

“We basically wrecked the house. There were a lot of people,” Waight said.

Over time, the house has become a platform for local music to be heard.

White Jesus, also known as junior Ben Crabill, said the atmosphere is easygoing.

“What’s cool about places like The Mind Palace is they are a great place for our younger students to come see local talent and local music in a space that isn’t encouraging them to be reckless.”

The Mind Palace’s sign welcomes guests to their home. // Photo courtesy of The Mind Palace

The house wants to move toward throwing concerts, not parties. The house added a small cover charge, and made The Mind Palace a sober venue, meaning no drugs or alcohol are allowed.

“We feel a sober space invites a safe space. At an all-age show, it creates a community that’s more geared toward music than just getting trashed,” Waight said

What makes The Mind Palace a special place in Bellingham is its commitment to providing a community atmosphere, junior Peter Biethan, a frequent concert-goer, said.

In the converted living room, the crowd nods and moves with the music. A small group dances wildly in front of the band, letting their limbs fly crazily, prompting a laugh from everyone when someone slips.

Another group stands along the outside of the room, slowly bobbing their heads and bending their knees to the beat. Some are buried in their cell phones, while the regulars sing along.

The exterior of The Mind Palace Wednesday Jan. 25. // Photo by Harrison Amelang

“Everybody there is really chill. I remember one show I went to, I struck up a conversation with one of the people in the bands there,” Biethan said. “That was something I really enjoyed, the atmosphere is very down to earth.”

Volunteers who help run the shows are crucial to the success of the shows, Waight said.

One of Waight’s friends who regularly runs the door has met friends through doing his job, a testament to the pervading sense of community. Waight also orders pizza for volunteers who help stay late to clean up.

“It’s a community effort. I understand it’s not just an effort of the people who live at the house,” Biethan said. “It’s not a for-profit concert venue, so any way that I can help, I love to.”

The Mind Palace’s next concert is Friday, Jan. 27, starting at 7 p.m., featuring a mix of local artists. To stay up to date with upcoming events, The Mind Palace Facebook page is updated regularly.

If you find yourself there, don’t forget The Mind Palace’s slogan, posted on all the event pages:

“No booze, no drugs, no jerks.”


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