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An inside look into a Bellingham house show venue

Two Western students have turned their home into a small chicken farm and a celebration of live music

People sing and dance inside a house show venue on Feb. 10, 2024, in Bellingham, Wash. House shows provide a space for anyone to enjoy the local music scene. // Photo courtesy of Gavin Scoville

As the sun lowers on the Sehome Neighborhood, orange and white chickens peck away at the lawn while, behind them, a group of musicians tune their instruments in a flowery, wallpapered living room. This scene is a common sight at one house that sits just below the Sehome Hill Arboretum.

Every couple of weekends, Caleb Barville, a Western Washington University student, and his roommate Jaden Miller empty their living room of all furniture to host local bands and artists.

“I had some friends who were looking to play music and figured ‘Why not use my house?’” Barville said. “It was really nice to also just enjoy the music while they were there playing.”

Barville and Miller first started hosting shows under the name Noise Lounge in 2022 and have hosted many different local bands. The genres of bands range from rock to electronic to jazz. Barville explained that since their house has a large open living room, it was fairly easy to set up a band and all the necessary equipment, though it still requires a lot of work.


Morgan McHugh Performs at Bingus Beyond on April 19, 2024, in Bellingham, Wash. Bingus Beyond is a popular house show venue in Bellingham. // Photo By Ross Osborne

The latest title of their venue is Bingus Beyond, inspired by Bingus, one of the 13 chickens they have in a coop out front of their home. They’ve taken on a more jazz, indie and Americana approach to their venue now, keeping the setup and cleanup work down compared to large rock shows.

“The shows require a lot of work to host, a lot of moving furniture around and a lot of cleanup,” Barville said. “I didn’t mind having a house that was dirtier from the house shows since it was the one time a week where all the furniture was out and I was able to do a nice deep clean of the whole house.”

A popular performer at Bingus Beyond is 21-year-old Morgan McHugh, an Americana singer and songwriter from Deming, Washington, who lives and performs in the Bellingham area.

“They’ve got a cool thing going on there. They’ve really established a good house show venue that people know about,” McHugh said. “It’s a great way to meet new people and put yourself out there.”

McHugh has performed locally for venues such as the Wild Buffalo, Blue Room, Honey Moon Mead & Cider, Kulshan Brewing Company and the New Prospect Theatre for a recent live album release.

“It’s a lot more relaxed. The pressure’s off a little bit when playing to a living room of people instead of being on a stage,” McHugh said. “I always get to put on the best performance possible for anybody no matter the venue, but a house show is a lot more casual.”

McHugh is part of a local band named Atomic Affair, a heavy blues and rock band. He recalled that his first-ever house show was with the group. He described the opportunity to perform at a house show as a glimpse into the local music scene and a strong connection to the community and network of musicians in the Bellingham area.


Morgan McHugh (yellow shirt) and his band Atomic Affair rock out with their fans during a house show concert. This took place Feb. 10, 2024, in Bellingham, Wash. // Photo courtesy of Gavin Scoville

Performance bills can start to add up. To help support the bands who are performing, audience members are encouraged to make donations towards the artists.

“We’ve had people from Portland, California and Seattle, and donations are able to cover their travel expenses,” Miller said. 

He continued to say how when bands perform at larger venues, a much larger percentage of the money the bands make goes straight into equipment rentals, the hosting venue and overhead fees. When the bands perform at house show venues, they're able to keep a much larger amount of the donations.

“If there's a certain house venue that has consistent shows and a consistent clientele, a kind of scene can develop around it that can be powerful and fulfilling to the people involved with it,” said Bruce Hamilton, a Western professor of music theory, electroacoustic music and composition. “One of the biggest things with live music is the community aspect … it’s a different animal, you're experiencing music with other people.”

For those looking to attend local house shows, pop-up concerts and live music, keep an eye out for bands posting upcoming shows to their Instagram and posters advertising upcoming events. Many venues have consistent shows, following their social media and looking for posters will keep you up to date on what's coming to your area.

Ross Osborne

Ross Osborne (he/him) is a city life reporter for The Front this quarter. He is a design major and public relations minor. He enjoys all things photo/video, skiing at Mount Baker and soccer. You can contact him at

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