Keeping the culture going: An Instagram page documents SLO’s indie music scene

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on KCPR.org, the website of Cal Poly’s radio station.

A red solo glass raised to the night sky has become a familiar image for many music lovers in San Luis Obispo. This is the profile picture of @slo.underground, an Instagram account dedicated to spreading the word about upcoming local house shows. The account is run by an anonymous Cal Poly sophomore with a deep love for the SLO music scene. Groups submit their flyers and posters to be posted on the account, allowing them to reach a larger audience than, say, hanging posters around campus.

@slo.underground has been attending house shows since she was a freshman, but the first one she attended was introduced to her at a Cal Poly Hammocking Club meeting. Later that night, local fan favorites Couch Dog and Kiwi Kannibal played. Intrigued, she and three other members decided to check things out after the meeting. Together they put away their hammocks and caught 4A to the show. She remembered being a little overwhelmed at first.

“You just walk in and see all these different people from different ages interacting,” @slo.underground said. “And then you get into the actual room where the bands are playing, and it’s stressful – but it’s so exciting at the same time. Like despite all the stress, you want to be a part of it.

It was cramped and hot, yet the atmosphere seemed to seethe with energy, as if the place itself were alive. It’s impossible not to be completely absorbed in the excitement and feel of a house show and @slo.underground’s experience was no exception. She danced and danced the entire time, only briefly going outside for a breath of fresh air. As the night wore on, she felt reluctant to leave and did so only when her friends told her it was time to go.

“I came out the sweatiest I’ve ever been, but the most fulfilled I’ve ever been,” @slo.underground said. “I knew I was going to do it again — from that moment on.”

He had no idea how intertwined he would become with the SLO music scene.

The account, whose feed is filled with brightly colored, eye-catching posters promoting various house shows, has been promoting for about five months. This journey began with the sudden announcement from a previous promoter of the show, @slo.diy, that they have decided to close their account completely. It was a loss felt by the music scene community, especially @slo.underground. “I remember thinking we were going to lose the house concert culture in SLO,” @slo.underground said.

@slo.diy has been a connecting thread between music lovers all over San Luis Obispo, connecting community members and giving local bands a platform to perform on stage. @slo.underground refused to see such a mainstay disappear.

With a little encouragement from friends, she decided to take on the role. “It was a no-brainer, really,” said @slo.underground. “For me, it’s always been about preserving the culture above anything else.” With that, everything was set in motion, and an old Instagram used for random photos was reworked into the account it is today.

When asked if she had any advice for students looking to break into the music scene, her answer came instantly: “Go for it.”

“I think it’s one of the most inclusive communities in SLO. It doesn’t matter what year you are or what major you’re in — everyone is there to enjoy good music and that’s all that matters,” said @slo.underground.

The San Luis Obispo music scene provided students with an opportunity to not only listen to music, but to experience it. Students can feel each note and text with their whole body. They can sing along with bands that have dedicated themselves to their craft and be part of something bigger than themselves.

So when Friday night rolls around and you find yourself looking for a place to be, don’t be afraid to check out @slo.underground. The wide variety of talent in SLO caters to many tastes, guaranteeing something for everyone. Although it may seem daunting, try to remember that the hardest part of any new experience is the beginning. All you have to do is open your ears and your mind and you’ll find it—that hidden heartbeat of SLO.

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