Things to do in South Bend
Maija Gustin | Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Subkirke is a bright spot in South Bend’s musical landscape. The resident concert venue at the South Bend Christian Reformed Church (SBCRC) has been growing steadily since it began in 2009 and now brings small, mostly indie, bands in nearly every week.
Yes, Subkirke is held in a church. But don’t be fooled — just because it’s a church does not mean that only Christian rock groups come to perform.
Subkirke has hosted notable acts such as Horse Feathers, BowerBirds, Bon Iver’s S. Carey and Maps & Atlases. You may not often see people from the iTunes Top 10 playing at Subkirke, but the venue has so far brought in some of the most popular and well-regarded indie acts from around the country.
The team at the SBCRC considers Subkirke, derived from the church’s acronym, a part of their ministry. In this case, though, the ministry is not meant to preach to people, but rather to provide the local community with top-notch music in a welcoming environment at a great price.
They believe in a commitment to the arts, generally, and the power of the arts to open your eyes and move your soul. In addition to bringing in these bands to play for the community, SBCRC also frequently hosts art exhibits in its building, which you can check out before or after the concert.
Concerts are held in the church’s sanctuary. The room is spacious yet intimate and has great acoustics for the artists. The room is full of chairs and pews to accommodate large crowds, but it is not uncommon for the masses to move to the stage and stand mere feet from the band for a good show.
When you walk into the church, you can immediately tell how dedicated everyone is to being there. These people are there to have fun and listen to great music, and that’s it. The environment is electric, and the concerts always attract sizable crowds of fans.
Though the bands that visit Subkirke may not be radio favorites, the venue makes sure to bring in a variety of acts, from folk-inspired to alternative, that hail from all parts of the country. The Subkirke team knows its music and always manages to find the best-hidden (and not-so-hidden) acts around.
The bands always seem genuinely excited to be playing and devoted to putting on the best show for the grateful audience. When a band is willing to play for a small, intimate audience like at Subkirke, you know they really want to be there. Being so close to the band as they perform, you can’t help but feel a connection.
At the Maps & Atlases concert two weeks ago, Subkirke brought in Notre Dame student band Ratboy to open for the Chicago-based “math rock” band. As soon as Maps walked onto the stage, the crowd surged forward and spent the entirety of the set standing so close to the band that you could practically touch them. Fans were dancing to the music and singing along with their favorite songs, completely wrapped up in the performance.
Most of Subkirke’s acts inspire this kind of passion from the crowd, be they old fans or newcomers to the music, and the $12 ($10 if ordered ahead of time) ticket is a small price to pay for that experience. Whether you know the band or not, Subkirke is worth checking out — you won’t find anything quite like it in the rest of South Bend. The team at Subkirke is there to provide a great night of music for the crowd and they deliver every time. So take a chance on an unknown band, or look to see if your favorite indie band will be making its way there soon. Coming up is popular Michigan band Breathe Owl Breathe on Sept. 30 and Frontier Ruckus on Oct. 28.
Subkirke is located at 1855 N. Hickory Road in South Bend. Check out subkirke.com for upcoming acts, tickets and more information on the venue.