DIY Venue Spotlight: Spazzatorium Galleria

ALARM’s ongoing series exploring the best grassroots, non-traditional music venues

Photo courtesy of venue
Iron Sides & the Gospel Years performing at the Galleria. Photo by Amy Sheidegger

Venue: Spazzatorium Galleria
Founded: July 2006
Location: Greenville, NC
Booking: Moviej2k@hotmail.com
Q&A with: Founder, Jeff Blinder

Why did you want to open a DIY venue?
To give the town of Greenville, NC an alternative to the cover band saturated and/or booty dance club music scene that has taken over here. No established venue was willing to give local or traveling folks a shot so we hosted the bands in our living room. As we kept things going we realized we needed to expand. Through organized meetings, a space was located and the ball got rolling.

Is The Spazzatorium Galleria grounded on any ideals?
To be open-minded about art, music and not restrict expression. We do not tolerate hateful/racist/sexist/etc. type of expression but strive not to limit outside the norm creation. From noise, hip-hop, electronic and country- we love to host it all if possible.

How has the venue been an attribute to a community?
The Spazz-as many people refer to it, seems to be seen as its own community. Hearing from people that if it wasn’t for what we’re doing they wouldn’t be here or that we gave a person the best times of their college lives is amazing and inspiration to keep things churning along.

Has The Spazz been met with any challenges?
Consistently. From low turn-outs, having the Fire Marshal come to shut us down, graffiti taggers pissing our neighbors off, shady landlord actions, PA systems blowing out and much more. But the rewards outweigh those negatives because when everything comes together, when the crowd is in tune with the music,every problem is forgotten while you share communal unity. It’s beyond describing but needless to say it makes everything worth doing.

How does a band book a show in your venue? What can they expect when they play?
They can expect a show where that night is theirs. We will not be able to make them rich but they will leave with gas money, a place to sleep that night and food if friends in the industry can hook it up. We exist for them and hope we can give them the best show on their tour.

Are there any significant musical acts or artists that have drawn a crowd or have had a significant performance?
Paleface, Joe Jack Talcum of The Dead Milkmen, Dan Deacon and an act called The Protomen (a rock opera) have connected with the audience. We keep a record of every artist we’ve hosted on our myspace page.

What advice could you give those who are interested in opening their own venue?
Separate the business and friends’ side of things because you’ll be an angry person in no time if you can’t do that. Be open-minded about who you work with but never put your ideals or beliefs to the wayside. Take risks when necessary but if opportunity presents itself to lessen the risks go with it. If you have to worry all the time, every show…you’ll burn out. As soon as you stop loving what you’re doing change things, if that doesn’t work get out before it’s too late. Don’t screw over three months of touring bands because you “needed a break.”

Spazzatorium Galleria: www.myspace.com/spazzgallery