The Skeleton Crew: On the Amateur Ethos within Amity House (2023)

Music does not exist in a vacuum. It does not tidy itself away outside of rehearsal and performance, but spills out into the lives of its practitioners. At Amity House, its centrality has warped the floorboards and walls with its eccentricities. In most houses, the amped guitars are banished to basements, garages, and sheds to mitigate auditory inconvenience. Here, they jockey for floor space and blare through thin bedroom doors. Old show posters, tchotchkes found on the road, and stage props populate the rooms. With the perennial cycling of tours and shows, equipment floods and drains from the house. Because the house informs the music of its residents and is in turn imprinted by their works, documenting Amity gives a deeper understanding of their art, and how artists are intrinsically in dialogue with their living conditions.

Currently, Amity House is one of the most affordable living options in Amherst, largely because of the landlord’s express desire to maintain a financially viable living option for artists in the area. Having a financially viable space allows house members to dedicate more of their lives to their art than might otherwise be possible. However, the ever-escalating housing and financial crisis threatens the affordability of Amity.

There is a particular transience embedded in the people and projects of Amity. The soundscapes of Amity are fundamentally shaped by the presence and absence of its inhabitants. With six members of the house on tour in the spring, our focus is on those who remain: the skeleton crew of Amity. In a series of interviews with Zach, a self-proclaimed amateur and member of the house, we are shown a facet of the multidimensional space.