Chaos and Creation in the Backyard

by John Downey '23 on October 9, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

Local Musicians Take Initiative to Support the Arts

There is no shortage of venues in Rhode Island. From legendary sites such as AS220, Alchemy, and News Cafe, to newer places such as Pub on Park, the chances of music being heard in Providence and beyond is high. However, there is also no shortage of bands in Rhode Island, and because of this, it isn’t always easy to get on the bill at the aforementioned venues. However, some local musicians have come together to fix this issue.

Rather Nice, an indie rock band based out of Johnston, RI, has worked hard to create a new space for bands to play. It’s called The Backyard, and it’s set up in, well…a backyard.

Joe Johnson, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the group, along with his family, have graciously begun booking shows behind their house. What initially started as a way for Rather Nice and friends to shake the rust off after a year without shows due to the pandemic has become a surprisingly sophisticated operation, often booking a show a month.

House venues are nothing new in Rhode Island. With such a massive hardcore scene in the state, there’s no way they wouldn’t crop up. However, what makes The Backyard unique is who’s running it: college students. Considering the main readership of this paper is college students, the question must be asked: how many of you, with your current workload, could take the time to run a venue? Now add one of the most active bands in the state into the mix. Last summer alone, Rather Nice played around 14 shows, a remarkable feat.

The family aspect of The Backyard also helps it stand out. No matter who’s playing there, the vibes are always mellow. The audience is made up of not just kids, but also friends and family of the Johnsons who are there to support the bands as well. The yard is peppered with tents for those who just want to sit and relax, though there is still plenty of space for those who want to move to the music. Food and drinks are served by Joe’s remarkably kind mother, and sometimes, the firepit is going. The kindness present at the venue makes the experience of watching a show there even better.

Recently, the venue announced a massive change that makes it even better: they will now begin doing live recordings for each of the bands. Anyone in the scene knows that show recordings are rare, particularly good ones. If The Backyard can pull off quality recordings of each concert, it will easily make them one of the most sought-after venues in the state.

While it appears at the moment that The Backyard is largely a seasonal operation, as even the firepit won’t be able to stave off the chill of a Rhode Island winter, when it is open, it provides a unique concert experience that is always fun to be a part of. To find out more about this novel venue, check out @thebackyardri on Instagram.