DAM Haus, the Davis punk rock house rented and run by KDVS, UC Davis's college radio station for the past 22 years, is no more. The house, which hosted around six shows per year, was legendary in the Sacramento scene, to bands that played there, and to those who attended its shows. Ty Segall, who headlined the final show at DAM Haus Tuesday night, told SF Weekly that he's never seen any show or venue like it.
One of the things DAM Haus was known for was its remarkable consistency. It was passed from KDVS DJ to KDVS DJ from 1989 until 2011, when the owners decided not to continue the lease so they could renovate the house, according to KDVS events coordinator and resident Shiva Shahmir. The key to keeping the police away and getting the lease renewed every year was to make DAM Haus a fixture in the neighborhood, keeping in contact with the neighbors and only hosting a handful of shows a year.
The scene at the final show was business as usual for DAM Haus: Packed to the gills with a hundred or so punk rock kids, hippies, hipsters, and the more unassuming handful of older townies and Sacto midtowners who can never pass up a DAM Haus show. Walking inside, the pleasantly warm air of a summer night in Davis became thick, sweaty, and overpoweringly hot, the "living room" and "dining room" of the house packed with bodies, drum sets, and of course, the opening band, the Fine Steps.
In between acts, the house cleared out so everyone could escape the sauna of flesh and gasp the cool night air. Almost immediately I was derided by a bushy-bearded ex-Hauser for bringing my own bottle-in-a-bag, since it was well known that DAM Haus takes care of its guests and always supplies a keg. Soon it became apparent that next to the music, the most important thing about DAM Haus was the camaraderie among the show-goers. Almost everyone at the final show had a story to tell about a time that they had been to DAM Haus in the past 20 years, whether it was as recent as last year (the Mayyors' final show, with support from Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall) or the nigh-on-legendary past (Hella's first show, opening for Lightning Bolt with the Haus packed to full capacity), but the one thing in common was, after the first time, they kept coming back.
The show resumed with a drums-and-squonk noise group (whose name I didn't catch), forcing the crowd to remember the house's past as a noise-rock collective, when it earned its name, the Davis Anti-Music House.
In the wake of the din, Sacramento's Ganglians set up in the dining room, with their amps placed all throughout the crowd (wherever they could fit), heating the already sweltering and increasingly packed room further. Sounding worlds better than their recordings indicate (though maybe it was just the Haus), they warmed the room up (literally and figuratively) for what would be the night's right and proper send-off.
Ty Segall and his band finished up the night, ripping through their songbook with a fury inspired by the show's setting: a hot night in a hot house, with the audience packed shoulder-to-shoulder, inches away from his mic, from the drumset, moving as one in and out and through the two rooms, lit by a single red bulb above his head. There was no room for any sort of pit, or for anything else besides the movement of the crowd towards and away from Segall's mic stand and person, ebbing to his screams and choruses. The closer, a cover of Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," pushed the room to a frothy boil, and Segall with it, as he dove directly into the wall of people, guitar in hand -- likely damaging himself and the instrument in the process -- before stepping back up behind the mic to play one final chorus.
Minutes after Ty Segall finished, the police arrived, but with a dignity and respect rarely seen at your standard college town house party. As everyone shuffled away into the night, soaked from head to toe in each other's sweat, there were muttering hopes that somewhere, somehow, a punk rock house like DAM Haus could live again.