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It Sounds Better in the Basement: Hudson Station

By Danielle Modica & Teresa Pavia | April 17, 2023

The summer of 2022 marked a significant revival in the Capital Region underground music scene. With the closure of prominent basement venues, like The Laundromat and The Byrdhouse, a new wave of creatives cut their teeth into the D.I.Y. scene. Starting up as a backyard jam space, donning a train theme, Hudson Station or “The Station,” was born.

Band performing at Hudson Station.

Photo Credit: Tessa Cai / @c.a.ixx on Instagram

Brian, also known as “Bezo” or “The Conductor,” began his college career attending past venues: The Rice House, The Orange Peel, and The Byrdhouse.

“Those three venues were my main inspiration for doing [Hudson Station],” Brian said. “I would go to those shows all the time and it would always be amazing nights.”

Eventually finding a house to live with friends downtown, Brian “wanted to run with the idea of making [their house] a venue.” They built a stage in their backyard which initially served as a place for local musicians to jam, or freestyle perform, with each other.

“People would just walk up from the street… one time when we were outside jamming, there was this one little kid and his father that came up,” Brian said. “He's like, ‘hey, [my kid] loves the drums, can you let him come play for a minute?’ and we’re like, ‘hell yeah!’”

Jessica of House of Saturn performing on guitar.

Photo Credit: Tessa Cai / @c.a.ixx on Instagram

“He just came and jammed with us for a little bit, had a great time,” Brian said. “When you see people coming out, just for the music, it is so [rewarding].”

Hudson Station hosted their first informal show in the backyard on the Fourth of July this past summer 2022.

“We played, a few people came out, and we had some fireworks afterwards,” Brian said. “Our first real show was in September.”

Transforming the informal backyard jam space into a functioning venue followed the same steps that most other organizers took before.

“To get that basement ready, I would leave the door open so we get some air ventilation. Just vacuum up a bunch of dust and dirt and make everything as clean as possible,” Brian said. “Took a good few weeks to clean that basement to make it breathable.”

Along with Brian as the main booking hand, Hudson Station holds a small team which keeps the venue in shape. Eddie, previously helping with other Albany venues like the Byrdhouse, takes care of the soundsystem. Tessa photographs the shows and works the “Ticket Booth.” Other team members Jay and Caleb help run the door.

“I was [initially] doing everything myself, running the door, running the sound, making sure people are okay, it was such a headache to do everything like that. People just came willing to help,” Brian said. “Those four people help make every show run smoothly. Without them it’d be chaos.”

Upon making the basement clean enough to host shows, Brian and his team brainstormed a theme for the venue. The team initially called it “The Firehouse,” after a fire escape in the house’s backyard, but the name was quickly scrapped after Brian found another basement venue with the same name.

“I also kinda didn’t like the brand of a fire house,” Brian said. “I wanted to find something that we could lean into the aesthetic with a bit.”

A glimpse of the soundboard in Hudson Station, with a train themed sheet covering the walls of the basement.

Photo Credit: Danielle Modica / The ASP

Arriving at the name Hudson Station, the space was transformed into an old-timey railroad station, with a makeshift “Ticket Booth” set up, railroad décor scattered across the room, and Brian outfitted with a train conductor uniform at every show.

“I was just like… I’m gonna go so hard with this,” Brian said, on determining the train theme. “I just knew I was gonna do this right.”

Brian, “The Conductor,” with the train conductor uniform he wears for every Hudson Station show.

Photo Credit: Danielle Modica / The ASP

“I dress up every time. It's very important to keep the aesthetic,” Brian said. “It differentiates me from other venues and it makes them a little bit more memorable…. I knew it'd be something that some people talk shit here and there about like, ‘oh, this is kind of corny.’ I don't care. I think it's funny.”

For their first official basement show as Hudson Station, Brian teamed up with a friend and booked New York electro-punk band Lip Critic.

“They alone brought 50, 60 people to my house, and this was the first show I ever did publicly… It was a crazy experience… They also had such an amazing show,” Brian said. “They were a band I’ve never heard of [at the time] but they blew me away.”

Brian noted that discovering new bands is the best part of the underground scene.

“[I love] when you get bands that you've never heard of before, and they give you phenomenal shows,” Brian said. “I love being that [space] for people… giving people a place to play and show their art.”

Quickly after getting the basement set up for shows, Hudson Station grew in notoriety, and their audience grew in numbers.

“It went from me, my friends, and maybe like 10 people walking up the street, to people lining up to get into the house. It all happened so fast,” Brian said. “We just reached 1000 followers [on social media] this week and it blows my mind how fast we’ve been growing.”

The crowd during one show at the Station.

Photo Credit: Danielle Modica / The ASP

On the security of hosting bands in his house, Brian says he’s not concerned.

“People respect our house very much… I never feel concerned for my safety…. People don’t wander around my house aimlessly,” Brian said. “Everyone’s super nice, people don’t really trash our house, besides mud and stuff on their shoes.”

Danielle taking photos at Hudson Station.

Photo Credit: Teresa Pavia / The ASP

The Station has seen bands from across the country come play. With booking assistance from Byrdhouse Records, one band from Florida stopped at The Station on a tour of the East Coast this past winter. Brian noted the memorable moments created by having diverse artists come to D.I.Y. venues.

“[The band] were the nicest people ever… they were so appreciative about my space, and about me, and they were such good people to hang with,” Brian said. “They had to sleep over that night, because there was a snowstorm and they couldn't drive to Syracuse [for their next tour stop]. This snowstorm was the second time they had ever seen snow in their life.”

“I gave them their first snowball fight,” Brian said. “It was just such a fun experience.”

A mid-movement shot of Brian’s own band Man Must Explore.

Photo Credit: Danielle Modica / The ASP

According to Brian, depending on if there are other venues hosting shows on the same night, inclement weather, or conflicts of schedule, audience sizes can vary.

“Some of the shows have 10 people show up, and some of them you have 50. You never really know what it’s going to be like,” Brian said. “For the people that did come, they had a good time. That's my whole philosophy with it…I don't care how many people come, I just want to give the best show.”

Though double booking and forgotten shows become a challenge every once in a while, Brian sees it as a part of the D.I.Y. experience. According to Brian, community attendees are the puzzle piece that brings the music together.

“The crowd makes the show too, half of [every] show is just crowd engagement with the bands… that’s the different experience in the basement scene… you're just so intimate… and you really connect with people,” Brian said. “That intimacy is what I pride my shows on.”

Writers’ Note:It Sounds Better in the Basement” is a developing series playing off of punk band The Devil is Electric’s 2001 release of the same name. The song represents the soul of basement shows and its importance in providing a platform for local bands. As Albany college students, we strongly believe in sedimenting the student culture of the Capital Region for generations to look back on. As UAlbany’s independent student newspaper, it is our mission to tell stories while protecting those who live them - which is why we have chosen to refer to sources on a first-name basis (unless receiving permission otherwise). This series will continue with features of other local venues, bands, and notable figures. Next up, The Rat Den.


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