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It Sounds Better in the Basement: The Dojo Beyond Time and Space

By Danielle Modica & Teresa Pavia | June 2, 2023

As the D.I.Y. scene continues to flourish, music venues in Albany continue to push the invisible limits of creativity. Traditionally held in private backyard and basement spaces, D.I.Y. venue “The Dojo Beyond Time and Space,” or “The Dojo,” expanded these bounds, hosting a wide range of acts in every level of the house.

Man Must Explore band performing at the Dojo.

Photo Credit: Dan / @Dan.Shapiro_ on Instagram

Staying true to the origin story of many underground venues, The Dojo’s lead organizer Aidan was first introduced to the scene by attending shows at other venues while in college.

Byrdhouse was my first foray into the scene… I enjoy other people and like going out with folks, [but I] hated the fraternity scene and did not fit in with that at all…[which led me to] the D.I.Y. scene, where I found alternative folks who [also] don't fit the standard mold of outgoing partiers,” Aidan said. “[At D.I.Y. shows] I got to enjoy three to four awesome new local bands that I never heard of… [I] just fell in love with it there.”

Connecting with other organizers and D.I.Y. enthusiasts, otherwise known as “scene-heads,” Aidan first began throwing informal house parties before fully imagining what could be done with the space with the help of Laundromat organizer, Ari.

“Ari was one of the initial visionaries,” Aidan said. “I like to throw parties for Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, like that sort of thing, and it started there… Ari and I were just walking through the house imagining what all the different spaces in the house could be.”

Ari and Teresa dancing in the attic of The Dojo.

Photo Credit: Danielle Modica / The ASP

With Ari’s initial inspiration, Aidan began hosting everything from local band acts to theatrical performances in July 2022. Each location in the house, being the garage, patio and attic, serves as a different performance area corresponding with an aspect of the venue’s name – “Dojo” “Time,” and “Space.” The house’s basement serves as a “lobby,” where guests can hang out on couches and check out local artist merchandise.

“We have three performance spaces we’ve set up,” Aidan said. “In the garage, we would have rock and punk concerts… we do acoustic and comedy shows up on the patio… the garage was ‘the Dojo,’ the patio was ‘Time’ and then the attic was ‘Space.’”

Gracie Lineham performing on the patio of The Dojo.

Photo Credit: Aidan

“One of my favorite pictures of the Dojo is from our first ever show,” Aidan said. “It's Gracie Lineham playing piano in front of a beautifully lit patio… which I think just sort of goes to show that it doesn't doesn't matter what you have, you can put on a great, incredibly memorable performance, no matter what… just sort of matters where your heart’s at, you know.”

According to Aidan, the unique name of the venue combines his different passions.

“I just have a love of pulp sci-fi [and] I used to be a martial artist… another advantage to the name is, what is The Dojo Beyond Time and Space? No one knows, so it's whatever you want it to be,” Aidan said. “That was my whole idea, it isn't necessarily your garden variety D.I.Y. show…it's whatever you want it to be…it's comedy, it's theater, it's music, it's whatever.”

According to Aidan, creating a space for all different kinds of art to be showcased was important for him as a venue organizer.

“I saw that music got this fantastic attendance that you wouldn't usually see at your traditional concert venue, and I wanted to spread the love to different sorts of arts,” Aidan said. “So that's why at Dojo shows, you always see art vendors in the lobby… and traditionally, we'll have comedy start out the shows before music just so you're being exposed to all different types of culture and art.”

A shot of the disco ball spinning at a Mardi Gras themed night at the Dojo.

Photo Credit: Danielle Modica / The ASP

According to Aidan, there are little to no boundaries for what can be showcased at The Dojo.

“I’m always looking for the freak show thing… I want people to come to me with the idea that they're like, ‘there's no way Aidan's gonna say yes to doing this’ and I will 100% say yes and give you my full unbridled support,” Aidan said.

Recently, The Dojo put together a fashion show of local Albany designers and print shops to showcase their handmade graphic T-shirts and other fashion designs. Models, designers, and organizers from the Albany area worked together to put on a full-fledged fashion show for a D.I.Y. price.

“The fashion show was my favorite thing to put on because it was so different,” Aidan said. “Everyone had a very positive reception to it… all the models [and] all the designers were super chill, super cool, lovely people… You put in all this hard work and effort for each show and then [seeing] it all come together beautifully makes you feel in ecstasy.”

One model on the rainbow-painted D.I.Y. runway.

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

On the future of underground D.I.Y. venues, Aidan shared his optimism for the endless creativity that the scene brings. Aidan has posted a series of “How to D.I.Y.” videos on the Dojo YouTube channel for potential future venue organizers to learn from.

“I would like to implore people to not limit your imagination to what art you can make based off of what is popular,” Aidan said.

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, less frequently, with features of other local venues, bands, and notable figures.

Thank you to all the organizers and friends who have participated in the series thus far. This is the last edition of ISBITB *for now* while Teresa and Danielle navigate life post-undergraduate studies. The series may pick back up, with features of local bands and figures, when Danielle returns for her graduate studies in August. Congratulations to the class of 2023 and long live D.I.Y. culture!


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