A red-solo cup being held up to the night sky has become a familiar image for many music lovers in San Luis Obispo. This is the profile picture for @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 music scene in SLO. Bands send in their flyers and posters for her to post on the account, allowing them to reach a larger audience than, say, if they hung up posters around campus.
@slo.underground has been attending house shows since she was a freshman, but the first one she ever attended was brought up to her at a Cal Poly Hammocking Club meeting. Local fan favorite bands Couch Dog and Kiwi Kannibal were playing later that same night. Intrigued, she and three other members decided to check things out after the meeting. Together, they put away their hammocks and caught the 4A to the show.
She remembered being slightly overwhelmed at first. “You just walk in and see all these different people of different years socializing. And then you walk into the actual room where the bands are playing and it’s stressful — but at the exact same time, it’s so thrilling. Like despite all of the stress, you want to be a part of it,” @slo.underground said.
It was cramped and hot, yet the atmosphere seemed to be humming with energy, as if the venue itself was alive.
She moshed and danced the entire time, only briefly heading outside for some fresh air. As the night came to an end, she felt herself reluctant to leave, only doing so when her friends said it was time to go. “I came out being the sweatiest I’ve ever been, but the most fulfilled I’ve ever been,” @slo.underground said. “I knew I would do it again — from that moment.”
Little did she know how intertwined she would become with the SLO music scene.
The account, with its feed full of brightly colored, eye-catching posters advertising different house shows, has been promoting for about five months. This journey began with the sudden announcement from a previous show promoter, @slo.diy, that they had decided to shut down their account entirely. It was a loss felt by the music scene community, particularly by @slo.underground. “I remember thinking to myself, we’re going to lose the house concert culture in SLO,” @slo.underground said.
@slo.diy had been a connecting thread between music lovers alike throughout San Luis Obispo, connecting members of the community and giving local bands a platform for themselves to put out into the scene. @slo.underground refused to see such a pivotal pillar disappear.
With a little encouragement from friends, she decided to take on the role. “It really was a no-brainer,” @slo.underground said. “For me, it’s always been about keeping the culture over anything else.” With this, everything was put into motion and an old Instagram being used for random photo dumps was revamped into the account that it is today.
When asked if she had any advice for students looking to get into the music scene, her answer came instantaneously: “Do it.”
“I think it is one of the most inclusive communities in SLO. It doesn’t matter what year you are or what major you are — everyone is just there to enjoy good music and that’s all that matters,” @slo.underground said.
San Luis Obispo’s music scene has supplied students with an opportunity to not only listen to music, but to live it. Students can feel every note and lyric with their whole bodies. They are able to sing right alongside the bands who have devoted themselves to their craft, and be part of something bigger than what they are.
So when Friday night comes around, and you find yourself looking for somewhere to be, don’t be afraid to check out @slo.underground. The wide variety of talent in SLO caters to plenty of tastes, guaranteeing something for everyone. While it may seem intimidating, try to remember that the hardest part of every new experience is starting. All you have to do is open your ears and your mind and you’ll find it — this hidden heartbeat of SLO.