New D-I-Y house show venue connects university students


Joe Mama’s Place on Feb. 24. Photo Credit: Zoe Fuller/Joe Mama’s Place

Arlo Grey MacFarland

The house show scene has a close-knit feel among the active community. The recent creation of Joe Mama’s place has a Chatham student at the heart of its creation.

Alice Crow ‘23, her partner Nikolas ‘Nik’ Schunn  and her roommate Zoe Fuller  (both of whom attend the University of Pittsburgh) have opened the newest house venue in South Oakland. Located on Joe Hammer Square, Joe Mama’s Place held its first performance on Feb. 24. The house hosted popular local bands 9FiftySeven, Clay Coast and Pitter Patter. The indie rock lineup performed in front of a packed basement that cold evening, exciting the crowd for future projects from Joe Mama’s Place.

Crow and Fuller met some 20 years ago, becoming friends in preschool and reconnecting in college. Fuller had been interested in local music since childhood when her parents would take her to festivals around Pittsburgh. Crow had attended a handful of shows at Local House, another house venue in Oakland, but mainly enjoyed the general live music experience. 

The two came up with the idea for Joe Mama’s after moving in together, but it wasn’t possible until recently. 

“We were always interested in doing a house show, but our previous house just did not have the set-up for it. And then, with the new house, we had carpets and everything, so originally we said ‘no parties,’” Fuller said. “But, you know, winter comes along, and it’s gray and dreary, and you’re bored, and you’re thinking ‘I just wanna hear some good music and dance in my basement.’”

“One night, Zoe, Nik and some of our friends were talking about how cool it would be to become a local venue. We brainstormed, and even though it was kind of a pipe dream at the time, something sparked and we kept pursuing it,” Crow said.

Planning the shows are a group effort, but the three also have their individual tasks. Crow runs the lighting and sound systems. Fuller runs social media and public relations, while Schunn runs the front of the house during performances.

Joe Mama’s Place’s first project was an open mic night, but they knew that they wanted something more. They connected with Clay Coast and Pitter Patter, then eventually 9FiftySeven. Once the bands were booked, it took around two weeks to prepare for the show.

9FiftySeven is composed of Ryan Ali on vocals and guitar, bassist Yanelis Figuera, drummer Aaron Kibler and Owen Roth on guitar. Kibler described the band as “Stokes meet [My Chemical Romance]” regarding their sound.

“We were absolutely ecstatic to play for these guys. It’s always an honor to be invited to play at such a nice place and with such amazing bands. Since we were the opener, once Joe Mama’s makes it big, we’ll always be able to tell people we were the first band to ever perform there,” Kibler said. 

The indie band connected with Joe Mama’s Place via Clay Coast, when 9Fiftyseven was suggested as an opening act. 9FiftySeven is new to the scene, like Joe Mama’s Place, never having played a live venue like this before.

Entering the basement, the room was packed from wall to wall. Dozens, perhaps a hundred, people crammed inside to check out the music. The air was heavy with anticipation as the bands set up. Everyone running the venue felt as if they were on the edge of their seats. Fuller and Crow feared that anything that could go wrong, would go wrong. However, the two couldn’t be farther from the truth. Everyone was ecstatic to be there.

“Everyone was really with it, I didn’t see one person not smiling,” said audience member Meagan Crough ‘26.
The performances were electric, music filled the basement, and the crowd danced despite having no room to move. Reflecting on the experience, Fuller is already finding ways to improve for the next show. The group wants to work on making the space itself something memorable.

“After the show, I have no regrets…The bands were fantastic and the energy during the show was amazing. After the first show, we instantly knew we wanted to do another,” Crow said. 

People would walk up to her, Fuller and Schunn to say how much fun they had, or that it was one of the best shows they had been to. In general, the consensus was clear: we need more from Joe Mama’s.

Joe Mama’s Place will be hosting Heading North, Yellow Bridges, Anaphylaxis and Moontown on Friday, March 31. Also, they have a performance on Friday, April 14 with The Platelets, Sunset Drive and Wild Blue Yonder. 

For more about Joe Mama’s Place, follow them on Instagram at