To the average Philadelphian walking their dog or jogging through the neighborhood, it would come as a shock to know that a small Wynnefield townhouse was, for one night, a concert venue. On Jan. 14, indie prog rock band Kindo (formerly known as The Reign of Kindo) performed a 90–minute headlining set on the concrete basement floor of a four–bedroom house not too far from St. Joseph’s University. Walking up the brick stairs makes concert attendees feel more like trick–or–treaters or door–to–door salesmen than prog aficionados, and there comes a moment before opening the door where one hopes they have the correct address and won't be barging in on a house party or family dinner.
Inside the house, however, the grungy punk vibe starts to show: posters of other rock bands and production companies line the walls both upstairs and downstairs, and a wall of mirrors in the kitchen bears clever dry–erase marker phrases like “I miss the old Kanye” and “Caroline was here.” While waiting for the show to start, patrons mill about the kitchen with cans of Genesee in hand or play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in the living room on the homeowner’s Switch. Members of the band take turns working the merch table against the aforementioned mirror wall, while the others fetch dinner or mingle with the concertgoers.
When the show is due to start, the audience is corralled down to the basement, which looks indistinguishable from any other: an unfinished concrete floor, a downright terrifying set of stairs, color–changing string lights around the perimeter. With all of the space the seven–piece ensemble and their instruments take up, there isn't much room left for the audience. Opener Daisy Abrams plays a few songs on keyboard before taking her place with the rest of the crowd and allowing Kindo to take over.
For a band as prolific within the prog scene as Kindo, who just released their fourth LP Happy However After last year, a series of small house shows in Florida and the mid–Atlantic seems an unusual move. The tour was announced in November as “a unique experience for [Kindo] to connect much more deeply … in a setting that is warm, friendly, and intimate.” Lead singer Joey Secchiaroli was inspired to do a house tour after playing a few house shows with a different ensemble. “I was so taken aback by how warm and just inviting those atmospheres were,” Joey says. “Everyone who was a part of it wanted to be a part of it, and that was a really refreshing thing to feel. We came to the people who really wanted us there.” While he understands that traditional concert venues are businesses whose primary goal is to make money, he feels that such an outlook means that “you don’t necessarily feel like they [venue owners] want you there.”
The Facebook post announcing the coming house tour put a call out for potential hosts anywhere between Ocala, Florida and their home base of New York City. Once all the applications were in, the band went through several rounds of vetting to make sure a space was suitable for performance. “[We] kind of just took it down different tiers and kind of funneled down until we found the best–suited candidates,” Joey says. “We’ve been really lucky so far.”
The gratitude that Joey and the rest of Kindo feel for their hosts and fans is on full display at the show, where all the members of Kindo dance, sing, and play with as much intensity as they can in the cramped quarters. “I’m having fun. I hope you guys are having fun,” Joey says between songs. Their ninety–minute set covered tracks from the full span of Kindo’s discography, from debut 2008 album Rhythm, Chord & Melody to last year’s Happy However After, as well as one song released only to Patreon customers that they hope to include on the next album.
There’s something about a basement show that makes one feel as if they’re the first one to discover an artist. While Kindo’s 900+ Patreon patrons, 36,000 Facebook likes, and 38,000 monthly Spotify listeners indicate that they have a solid fan base, that indication goes away in a basement with less than 100 other superfans. The sound mix requires alterations so as to not blow anyone’s ears out, a few concertgoers end up on the stairs to avoid being packed too close, the beer is cheap, the basement is warm, and everyone has a look of pure joy on their face from the first to last note. Joey speaks the truth: everyone in that townhouse wants to be there, from the musicians to the hosts to the guests, and the energy is more palpable in that basement than most “real” venues. When the final chord fades away into the tinnitus everyone in the first few rows has acquired, Joey’s voice breaks through the cheers once more: “Thank you! Stick around so we can hang out with you!”