I’ve never felt like it’s all that easy to get off campus and find things to do within the city of Rochester. Coming from the area of Burlington, Vermont, where a large part of the cultural activity for the city is compressed into one small and very active area, Rochester initially seemed to be a rather uninteresting city.

But more and more I’m finding that the city really does have a lot to offer if I put in the effort to look. One place I’ve found to be particularly interesting is the Art Sound Space – AV Space – located in downtown Rochester near the Public Market.

The AV Space is a small concert venue that doubles as an art gallery. The venue is run by a group of artists and musicians, so any event there is sure to be organized by people who are genuinely passionate about what it is that they’re displaying.

Acts featured at the AV Space cover a wide range of musical genres, though most of them tend to lie more in the sub-mainstream. When you go to a show there, you can expect to hear anything from eerie ambience tracks to the more sing-song style characteristic of some indie rock, as well as from the anti-folk genre to the intense screaming vocals of hardcore.

And it’s not just music – the space is host to numerous other events such as video premiers, book signings and art shows. The art shows are particularly interesting because they are set up so that they can stay on display during other events such as concerts. This way you can check out the artwork when you go to see another event.

The small size of the venue fits perfectly with the artistic styles displayed there. Rather than setting themselves apart as something more to be watched and admired – which is how I feel a lot of bands present themselves at larger shows – the performers are generally more personable and can interact and relate with the audience. This dynamic was very much present in a show I attended there last week, headlined by a sort of experimental/indie/folk act called Tiger Saw.

The audience was comprised almost solely of the other performers with very little representation from the general public. At a lot of shows this would have been discouraging for the artists, but that night they all seemed to capitalize on the situation. Everyone was ushered to the front of the room to huddle around the stage area, creating a sort of around-the-campfire feel.

One artist, Drew Danburry, opened his set by using audience input to do a mad lib and then making the mad lib into a song. Almost all of the performers did sing-alongs, creating a feeling of togetherness that I wouldn’t expect to find in a group of strangers at a show featuring bands I had never heard before.

Any event you attend at the AV Space promises to be a refreshing alternative to your typical package tour, and present you with a unique and worthwhile experience. Information on upcoming events can be found at the venue’s Web site, http://www.artsoundspace.org.

Sedney can be reached at nsedney@campustimes.org.

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