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Dana Street Coffee Brings Underground Music to Mountain View

In Clubs, Music
Portland's The Taxpayers are regulars at Dana Street Coffee.

Portland's The Taxpayers are regulars at Dana Street Coffee.

Tucked away from the rest of the South Bay, Mountain View doesn’t usually get a lot of attention for live music. But for the past couple years Mikey Gagnon-Queen has quietly booked cool, underground shows at Dana Street Coffee. We asked Queen to tell us more about the what he calls the “open community” he’s helping to create.

How long have you been doing shows at Dana Street?
I started hosting shows at Dana Street around four years ago. It started as more acoustic acts like Dan Potthast (of Mu330) and Kevin Seconds (of 7 seconds). I would host shows in my garage of my house or at friends’ houses, but we grew tired of dealing with neighbors and MVPD.

Nick Chaput (the owner of Dana Street) puts on awesome jazz/experimental shows on Sunday nights after we close and I thought to myself, “Well, I can do this but with my friends and their bands.” So I booked some friends bands from around the area and it sort of just snowballed into this sort of venue.

What kind of music do you normally book?
I like to think I don’t book one type of music. I book bands I’m really interested in. I like to help out groups that may not be able to find a place to play. The South Bay isn’t close to as open minded as it should be to new and different bands coming out. It’s almost like you need to fit into some “scene” and I want a venue that doesn’t have “scenes” connected to it. I try and book bands that are not too similar so that no one feels like they can’t find something that might like.

Sometimes coffee shop shows can be mellow and more like background music. What are your shows like?
They range on what bands are playing. Some nights the kids seem to just want to watch and other nights they want to dance. I feel like the space is more for them and the band then anything. I leave it up to the bands to control the vibes going on in the cafe.

What are some crazy and/or interesting things that have happened at shows?

So many fun and crazy things go on at our shows! Watching the Blank Reference play a drum solo for a half hour was insane! Sean Kavanaugh of the High Sea did a full front flip off his drum stool into the crowd at our last show. He did a swan dive into the kids in the front row.

What is the Mountain View scene like? What do passing strangers think when there are shows going on?

I dislike “scenes”. That makes me feel like you are just looking to be a part of something that only so many can join. With our shows I don’t want a “scene” so much as I want an open community. The bands that have started here and faded away have always been different from one another.

We try and keep our eyes, ears and minds open to new bands and musicians coming out. The bands we have had from out of state express amazement that there is something going on out here in this city. We had Delay play their first northern California gig at my house and every time the Taxpayers come down from Portland, they asked to play at Dana Street after we had them play the first time. So, bands do enjoy coming and checking out something different and unexpected.

Some of your bills seem pretty diverse. Is that a deliberate action? What is your philosophy on creating bills?

That came out of my love for different genres of music and trying to getting people to go to different kinds shows. I want to open everyone’s eyes to different styles of music. If you book only a show with only metal bands then you are gonna get a lot of metal heads. If you book a punk show then you may only get punk kids. What if you booked a show that had a punk band, a metal band and just for the hell of it a Hip Hop artist? You may get a whole bunch of kids coming to see that one band and maybe a hand full to check out the other act but nevertheless I’m getting to exposed them to something different.

What can bands expect if they played one of your shows (other than getting paid in coffee)?
HA! Only the lucky get paid in coffee! We do give all the money from the door to the bands. We split it up evenly and everyone gets a little something. I don’t take any of the cut and I have only volunteers working with me on these shows. I want the bands to feel free to have a blast and not feel like they have to “perform.” This is their moment, have as much fun as possible.

Any interesting shows coming up we should know about?
July 15th- The High Sea, Boboso, Street Girls, & Kerry Poling (of the Citizens)
Aug 5th- The Taxpayers
Aug 26th- Downstaaiirs (members of Heavy Heavy Low Low)

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