The newly released Coffeehouse lineup for fall 2012, which includes prominent indie acts Mount Eerie and Paleface, has both Triangle musicians and Duke students jittery with enthusiasm.
“Turbo Fruits, King Tuff and the Intelligence are must-see bands,” said Ben Carr, frontman of Chapel Hill band Last Year’s Men who played last night at the Coffeehouse. “I know people who travel hours to see shows like these.” Though on Duke’s campus, the quality of the Coffeehouse performers has long attracted music lovers from all over the Triangle.
“It seems like most of our audience tends to be non-Duke folks,” Yunyi Li, junior and Coffeehouse booking manager, wrote in an email. “In that sense a lot of the time the Coffeehouse feels like it’s more part of Durham than Duke.”
Durham musician and Duke alum Patrick Phelan, who graduated in 2007 and has since fronted local rock outfit Luego and played at the Coffeehouse several times, said he’s “stoked” to play with anti-folk staple Paleface on September 29. “The Coffeehouse rules,” Phelan said. “It’s always a creative, free-thinking, free-love place. As an undergrad it was insane. As an adult, it is still just as awesome.”
Since 1981, the Coffeehouse, located in the Crowell building on East Campus, has scheduled an eclectic mix of local, regional and national bands. Staffed and run by twenty students, the venue serves as both coffee shop and gathering place for Duke and Durham.
For Li, the Coffeehouse’s biggest draw is that Duke students can go to all the concerts for free.
“I saw Woods [the folk rock band from Brooklyn, playing on October 31 with Widow Speak] in San Francisco for twenty dollars,” Li said. “Our shows are free or five dollars for non-Duke people.”
The Coffeehouse begins planning for each season several months before their first lineup is announced. Li, who assumed her duties as booking manager in the spring after working as a barista for a year, said the booking timeline varies each season and that the booking for fall 2012 began in April. Despite her limited experience as a booking agent, Li has tried to include bands on this semester’s lineup that appeal to students as well as Durhamites.
“I didn’t really have any experience beforehand,” Li said. “[But] I’m really excited to see Mount Eerie [on September 19], Woods and King Tuff [on October 24]. I’ve seen the first two before and they’re definitely some of my favorite live acts ever.”
The Coffeehouse staff has a long history of booking bands who tour nationally before they hit it big, Beloved Binge singer Eleni Binge said. Binge’s group—who describe themselves as “rubble pop rooted in a punk pot with a hint of old Greek mountain-village uprising”—played a show with Yeasayer.
Binge said the Triangle is “the place to be as a musician and music lover.” She urged students to visit the Coffeehouse as frequently as possible throughout the fall 2012 season to “enjoy music [they] won’t find anywhere else.”
“Take a chance,” Binge said. “You can’t always tell if you like a band by listening online. The live show is the key place where you can experience music in a way impossible to experience via computer screen.”