Views From the Pit: Thoughts from Holland’s Tenth Anniversary Shows by Tucker Rash
The Holland Project, Reno’s greatest and only all ages art, music, and community space, has turned ten. Over the weekend, I partook in the organization’s euphoric anniversary celebrations.
I have been involved with Holland in some way or another for the last 8 or 9 years. My dad was taking me to early Holland shows before I could even comprehend how important of a space Holland was and would continue to be. Since then, the organization has provided me and so many others with the tools and the opportunities for creative expression, with genuine friends, with a value for art, culture, and life.
"This compilation is to showcase the talented bands that still play Holland, and to honor the bands that played before us, who helped to establish and sustain Holland and our music community as it stands today. To have all this history in one spot is really humbling for me as someone who works for Holland, but also as a musician who creates in a space partially curated by all these incredible artists, past and present. Above all else, this compilation is filled with energy and love and I hope you all enjoy!" <3 - Erin Miller
Arriving at the Holland Project on Friday night felt just as electrifying as any other time I had walked through its doors, and the atmosphere was even warmer and more welcoming than usual. The building was filled with anticipation as everyone waited for the bands to start. The wait was made all the better by the exploration of the various Holland Project-themed memorabilia, photographs, and art projects on display in the gallery space. A huge, community decorated denim jacket filled the hallway between Holland’s gallery and showspace. Inside the gallery, a rainbow path led the way towards a brightly colored, Holland dedicated altar. Photographs from the course of Holland’s ten years, guitar picks, cassette tapes, and Holland’s unsettling but now famous dog painting bedazzled the altar.
The atmosphere was buzzing as everyone reminisced over their memories of Holland throughout its ten years: their first shows, their general adoration for the Holland Project. These fond conversations would only be interrupted by the beginning of the show. The crowd was excited as Surly, backed by City Wolves, took the stage under pink and yellow lighting. Accompanied by a full band, Surly’s insightful, profound sound and lyrics were magnified. The crowds’ overall happiness juxtaposed Surly’s beautifully sad lyrics. Up next was Blackstallion, who filled the room with dark and bouncy emo -- music to sway to. Soon after, Lil Traffic (and friends) took the stage, ready to energize the audience with the hypest audio-peaking trap you've ever heard. The pit moved in a way that only a Lil Traffic pit could. The crowd bounced in near unison for the whole set.
Culture Abuse would take the stage next, blowing everyone away with infectiously catchy hardcore. The crowd immediately exploded into an energetic pit, repeatedly rushing the stage, as audience members shared the microphone with Culture Abuse’s singer. All at once, about four people had their glasses thrown off their faces by the movement of the pit. Glasses snapped comically in half or lost their arms underneath the pit’s many feet. Crowdsurfer after crowdsurfer made their way overhead, singing along to every song.
You've probably already grasped what the crowd continued to do during the show -- they danced. Despite the diversity in the genres of the performing bands, the crowd danced and seemingly enjoyed every set. So it will come as no surprise that the crowd’s energy didn't dwindle during the final set of the night: the reunion of local dark, heavy, post-punk band Spitting Image.
Letting go of any control, I let myself get pushed and pulled through the pit as the sound of Spitting Image reverberated through the venue. I heard a few fellow pit-members singing along as we all danced and flailed together. During the final few songs of the set, a tall friend of mine lifted me up enough for me to grab onto the venue’s rafters. From this new perspective I was able to admire the faces of the audience members below me. I swung my legs in circles above the simultaneously scared and enthralled faces; scared of my feet, enthralled by the band.
And that was just day one.
On Saturday I arrived before the doors opened and killed time by speaking with friends about the events the night held, grindcore album covers, and music in general. Walking through Holland’s doors proved to be as electrifying and joyous as it had been the night before, but there was a newfound sense of stillness in the air. I thought about how fast time seems to go by and how soon these festivities would only exist in memory. The night had barely begun, but I already didn’t want it to end.
Punky, math rock duo Rob Ford Explorer opened the night. Sheer bliss embodied both the band and the audience during the set. The two members of Rob Ford Explorer seemed to be absolutely lost in their music. Near flamboyant smiles occupied the faces of band and audience members alike through the majority of the band’s set. Boys took the stage next, showcasing upbeat, catchy punk through a captivating and bouncy stage presence. The four piece band energized the crowd, serving as a good primer for the final two bands of the night.
Up next was Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, one of the best bands I’ve ever seen perform at Holland. The last time they rolled through was in late 2015, when they must have played for no more than 20 people. Two guys compose Ed Schrader’s Music Beat; one who sings and plays a single floor tom and another who plays bass. The setup is simple, yet the duo projects huge amounts of energy into the venue. Stage lights were turned off and replaced by Ed’s custom light set-up; a clamp light underneath the tom drum. Switching back and forth from wild and heavy to slow and introspective songs, Ed Schrader had the complete attention of the entire audience. The pit was wild and rested right at the brink of breaking pit etiquette. A few audience members danced through the crowd holding up various fruits and vegetables; carrots, broccoli, papaya, and eggplant. Captivated by the rather engaging live performance of Ed Schrader, a friend and I danced, bounced, and sang along to all the lyrics during the set. During the final few songs of the set, said friend and I found ourselves in the rafters at the same time. Swinging in the air with a friend may be one of the best ways to listen to Ed Schrader’s Music Beat. I didn’t want the set to end.
I talked to Ed after the set inevitably ended. He expressed so much gratitude towards The Holland Project and made clear how much he and bandmate Devlin appreciate the venue. During the couple times that I have seen Ed Schrader’s Music Beat perform, I have always admired how much they seem to embody the respect and joy that constantly reverberates through Holland’s walls. Their performance for Holland’s tenth anniversary shows was all too perfect.
Shannon and the Clams would end the night with their dancey, nostalgic blend of garage punk and doo wop. Their performance inspired a sort of dance trance in the audience. It was hard not to pull a random audience member into your arms for a dance while listening to Shannon and the Clams perform. The atmosphere was blissful and inspired a sense of collectiveness. Shannon and the Clams perfectly embodied that beautiful feeling of community that can only exist around the Holland Project.
The whole weekend was absolutely euphoric and surreal. Being involved with Holland since a very young age, I never really understood how special of a place it was. It was just the community that I was lucky enough to be raised in. Now, of course, I’ve come to realize that places like Holland, places that champion art, music, culture, and young people are all too rare. When places like Holland pop up, they are always threatened by gentrification, a constantly rising rent, or just being squeezed out by other businesses. To have seen Holland recently buy its building, securing itself for years, is overwhelmingly beautiful. Then to have seen Holland turn ten years old shortly after acquiring its building, knowing that that anniversary was the first milestone of so many, filled me with a sense of meaning that I had never felt before.
During the anniversary celebrations, something that struck me the most was the overwhelming sense of unity underneath Holland’s roof. The lineups were very eclectic, yet everyone there enjoyed the entirety of the shows. No matter what sound or genre was pulsating through the speakers, the audience was dancing together, united by a love for each other and for Holland. It’s been beautiful seeing Holland grow from an idea into an entire community, backed by so many people with similar interests, so many people who absolutely love Holland.
I will never be able to express my love, appreciation, and gratitude for the Holland Project in words. The meaning that Holland gives my life and so many others is overwhelmingly monumental. At this point, Holland is one of the most important pieces of me, of my existence. Holland has always been a place where I fit in, a place where I feel welcomed. Everyone there, from Britt to Clark to Kristin to Brigdon to Erin to Tyler, has given me so many opportunities. The opportunities, the tools, the place for creative expression, for meaningful friendships. Through Holland I have been given this infinite appreciation and passion for art, friendship, and existence as a whole. I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t for Holland, and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.