Keeping your house clean is difficult. Adding in booking, promoting, setting up, tearing down and supplying gear makes keeping your house clean more difficult. For Dave Lesser and Leah Gage of BRNDA, running Bathtub Republic and 453 are essentially full-time jobs.
Leah told us it can be difficult to strike a balance between venue and living space at Bathtub Republic. Though most people respect that her space is a home, that isn’t always the case. Objects get broken or stained, amps get spilled on, and cables are destroyed. Dave said none of that would stop him from running a house venue if he could guarantee money and a crowd to every touring band. But that’s not always possible.
Dave and Leah want to give artists a living room to play in, just like the one BRNDA played their first show in over five years ago. BRNDA was born and raised in the DIY scene, and they want to extend that sense of community to both new and veteran artists from all over.
Neither Leah nor Dave are in the business of making money from 453 or Bathtub Republic. Almost all of the money collected at the door is divvied up between the bands on the bill, leaving little left over for the folks behind the show itself. New gear is almost exclusively paid for out of pocket.
As a touring band, BRNDA knows the struggle of booking shows around the country. D.C. is an especially hard city to book because of the disappearance of several DIY spaces over the year. 453 stemmed from the former Communiverse, and Bathtub Republic was able to make a move to a new house, but many venues do not fare as well. Leah told us she gets hundreds of emails a year from bands looking to for a space play in D.C.
In spite of the madness, running a venue does have its perks. Dave says that the kindness experienced in DIY music is what keeps the scene alive. Dave and Leah’s generosity and dedication to the DIY music scene in D.C. has opened doors for BRNDA when booking in other cities.
“We’ve done a bunch of shows in D.C. and in Brooklyn with Bueno, who I think we met initially when they played Communiverse,” Leah told us.
Surprisingly, neighborhood complaints are seldom an issue for Bathtub Republic or 453. Dave and Leah try their best stick to a strict noise curfew of 10 p.m. and say that at this point, neighbors know what to expect.
BRNDA is working on an EP-length collection of songs. Dave said that between mixing and release logistics, it could be a while before anyone hears the collection that consists of darker and heavier stuff than ever before.
“I’d say the music we are playing these days is a bit murkier, sparser. Not as buoyant. But that’s OK, right?”
Catch BRNDA in the new year at Comet on January 11.