ALLSTON MUSIC SCENE FACES UNCERTAIN FUTURE
BOSTON — The closure of Great Scott last May signaled the decline of the independent music scene in Allston. This follows a trend of other Boston-area nightclubs and music venues closing due to the pandemic.
Venues like Brighton Music Hall and Great Scott are destination businesses that draw people from places all over the country, not just the Greater Boston Area. With venues having no definite plans for reopening, Allston’s future remains uncertain.
Alex Cornacchini, executive director of the non-profit organization Allston Village Main Streets, expressed his concern for other small businesses impacted by the closure of music venues.
“If somebody goes to a show at Great Scott they'll inevitably spend money at a restaurant or they’ll see another store,” said Cornacchini. “These institutions are destinations for potential customers for most of our other small businesses.”
The economy isn’t the only thing that’s taken a hit. Musicians are also feeling the impact.
In the past, Allston was an attraction for small artists that were touring and wanting to grow their fan base. Now that touring has become obsolete, many artists are trying to come up with new ways of attracting listeners.
Jimmy Conroy, of the band Another Hospital, has been playing live streams in an attempt to grow their fanbase. They still believe touring in venues is above all else in terms of growing a following.
“It’s hard to get people to take a chance on [a band] that they don’t know at all. There’s not really an alternative that exists right now for getting awareness,” said Conroy.
The Allston music scene is also known for its house shows, which are popular among many independent artists who can’t afford to book music venues.
Before the pandemic, Aidan McCall, of Allston-based band We Became Whales, would host and perform shows in his basement. He believes what made Allston’s nightlife special was the combination of a large community of musicians wanting to play shows and plenty of college kids looking for something fun to do on a Saturday night.
As restrictions are lifted, venues like Great Scott and Paradise Rock Club may still have trouble reopening. McCall believes house shows will step up to the needs of Allston musicians and host live music.
McCall is optimistic about the future though. With the ongoing vaccine distribution and Covid-19 cases showing a downward trend in Boston, he’s welcoming the possibility of hosting a few shows this summer.
“We can only hope the bigger venues survive,” he said, “but there will always be a basement to go wild in.”
Aileen Tran is a Boston University journalism student reporting as part of a collaboration between the Belmont-Citizen Herald, The Watertown Tab and the Boston University News Service. Boston University Professor Tina Martin oversees the program, collaborating with Senior Multimedia Journalist Joanna Tzouvelis.