After years of hosting DIY shows in a cozy basement and serving as a practice space for a host of local bands, the Dag House is no more. It hosted a final show a few weeks ago (the bill: Makewar, Barons, Living Room, Adder, All Dinosaurs, Two Hand Fools). The property owner has ideas other than renting to a bunch of musicians in mind, so the occupants and hosts are on their way out. Hooper's Farm will have new neighbors, it seems.
If you saw a show there, you know what a special place it was. That had everything to do with the people who lived there and made it happen. About 18 folks called it home at one time or another.
We certainly can't do proper justice to them or it, so we asked Jeff Russell (Signals Midwest) to gather some thoughts from current and former residents as the era comes to a close.
Jeff (with the help of others):
Dag House was a perfect, hidden DIY gem a couple of Clevelanders were lucky enough to stumble upon in 2009. Shows were booked in the basement almost immediately once the potential was realized. It started with local bands. Then eventually friends from out of state. And then some shows even had bands from out of the country. The furthest visitors Dag ever hosted was Caulfield Cult from Singapore. They might have had more fun than any other out of town band in the 7 year history of the house. Drugs are highly illegal in Singapore, so Dag house was a little bit of a new experience for them... haha. But all jokes aside, Dag House has easily hosted more than 75-100 shows. Not once did any of the residents "charge" admission, but only asked for a donation to get the touring band to their next stop. Some shows only made $20, others made $350. Either way, the out of towners were given a place to sleep, some pasta to eat (Ty Sickel's famous Spaghetti) and hopefully enough gas to get to wherever they were going.
Over the course of 7 years I think 18 people called Dag house home. The majority of people that lived there were in active bands themselves. Dag house not only hosted shows, but acted as a practice space as well for bands like Two Hand Fools, Ultra Ultra, Annabel and Heart Attack Man. Over the years the house became a "home base" for the Cleveland DIY punk scene. It's predecessor, "The Soggy Dog House," which was in Lakewood, ended in 2010, so Dag House became the go-to for any show that wasn't at a local venue. The name DAG is actually an homage to Soggy Dog house: The owner of Soggy Dog, Kenny Dix, invented the word Dag once when he was too drunk to say DANG.
And from Christine, the longest tenured resident and, as Jeff put it, "essentially the mom of the house":
When I first moved to Cleveland from Lawrence, Kansas in 2009, I had no idea what to expect. I could count the people I knew on one hand. I had no job prospects and a vague idea that I wanted to go to grad school. That all changed in 2010 when I heard some buddies of mine were moving out of a house in Tremont and wanted me to take over the lease. When we first moved in, we knew immediately that we wanted to have bands play there. Nice big basement, no neighbors, nice and secluded in the heart of the city. What more could you ask for? So we did it. We had bands play from every corner of the country, stinking up our house from top to bottom. I have met more people in the last six years than I can count, had dozens and dozens of people sleep on our floors, and just about every type of music rattle through the walls. Somehow, we created this oasis for bands to visit, whether they were friends of mine from Kansas, friends of other roommates, or had just randomly hit us up on the Daghouse Facebook through word of mouth. Yeah it was a house that had shows, but we really tried to put an effort into making it a HOME that had shows as opposed to a "punk house." It became the first place that really felt like home to me since moving out of my parents house in 2004. I think (and hope) it also became a sort of home base for people in Cleveland that wanted somewhere to hang out or meet up before going somewhere else or just come listen to music that wasn't at a bar. I'm so grateful to have been the one to facilitate that and would do it again in a heartbeat if I had the chance. My only hope is that somebody can take the torch and keep the DIY scene in Cleveland alive and kicking, because there is definitely a strong community behind it that needs and deserves support. Dag was more than just the house, it was the people that showed up who made it such a great thing.
Never got a chance to go? Here's a small sample of the sort of thing you missed.