New Music Venue Offers Fresh Vibe

Lizzie Conner

It’s difficult to explain the location of the newly established 3 Doors Studio — I usually settle on, “It’s that house near Beethoven’s with all the weird stuff on the porch. All the colorful art, y’know?” Primarily a studio space for several local artists who split rent, the house has also hosted a handful of donation-based, acoustic shows since it opened a few months ago. Although no one on campus seems to have discovered this gem yet, it may be exactly what the Oberlin music scene needs, and I was excited to play there again.

On the last Sunday in February, a crowd of about 40 people — half of whom were students — and one jumpy puppy showed up at 121 South Main to find a furniture-less living room lit only by Christmas lights that pulsed dimly from behind a painted sheet. Oberlin locals made up the other half of the human audience. They came to support the new venue-space and to see Andy Cook and the Wanderloons — a folk-rock group that splits time between Oberlin and Columbus.

By the time I kicked off my show without any sort of amplification, I barely felt like I was in Oberlin at all. Usually when I play acoustic shows, I feel like I’m competing with all sorts of room noises — from audience chatter to espresso machines and the clinking of dishes. But this wooden-floored living room somehow absorbed just the right amount of sound, to the point where I didn’t even have to strain my voice to feel heard over my own instruments.

Yet, it wasn’t just the room itself. The nature of the space made a truly ideal crowd atmosphere for acoustic shows. Everyone came to actually hear music.

The same vibe lasted throughout the night. The Wanderloons, a four-piece group that includes two acoustic guitars and an upright bass, played next. Despite the added layers of volume, singers Andy Cook and Haley Antell’s harmonizing vocals sailed, sending shudders down the audience’s collective spine. Eric Cronstein’s guitar melodies approached out of the corner and tapped you on the shoulder like a forgotten friend, and Laura Dykes’s combination of arco and pizzicato playing on the bass gave every song a different texture.

3 Doors Studio offers an opportunity for students and locals to build community in a truly unique way. In the next few months, they will renovate parts of the house next door, on the corner of Vine and South Main, to create more studio space and possibly a print shop. And as the space becomes more established, shows will become more frequent. 3 Doors Studio challenges Oberlin students to stray from the beaten venue-path to see or hear something new. Maybe it will be a gallery showing of local art (which also happens there on occasion) or maybe it will just be friends playing music. Whatever the event, 3 Doors Studio is a space where music and art are reason enough to brave the slushy sidewalks of Oberlin.