The Underground, an all-ages music venue located in West Chester, re-opened its doors with a full night of live music on Jan. 17 after closing down Thanksgiving week for the holiday season. Located just a few blocks from campus at the West Chester Community Fellowship church on Church Street, the Underground picked right up where it had left off with a full set of bands. When the time finally came for the doors to open at 4 p.m., the Underground staff was greeted by more than 175 people, a mixture of regular attendees with new faces both young and old, waiting to see eight live bands as well as relax in the comfort of the casual and fun atmosphere.
The local music venue was founded in the spring of 2003 by Chris Kenna. When asked about why he wanted to start a live music attraction, he said that he felt a strong urge to start something for the kids and the bands of West Chester. “I was young once, too, and I remember my band couldn’t ever play anywhere because everything in WC is 21 plus,” said Kenna, “We couldn’t even find a place just to hang out with out being harassed by the police. So, the church had the space, we had the staff, God gave us his word and hence the Underground was born.”
Since the time of its founding, the Underground has greatly grown in popularity throughout Chester County, signing bands from across the country to play their weekend shows. Calls all the way from California, Florida, Washington and Texas have made their way to Kenna.
Among the reasons for the Underground’s increase in popularity were the Hurricane Katrina and Tsunami relief benefits that they held to aid those affected by both natural disasters. The Tsunami Benefit is what really kicked the Underground into high gear.
“We raised over $1000 for the cause. The Hurricane Benefit was great and we raised over $500 for the victims,” said Kenna.
In the beginning, the Underground held events in a single room wih a stage located in the basement of the Community Fellowship Church. Since that time, it has grown and improved with the additions of new areas, expanding the capacity of the venue.
It now operates with live music from the same room as well as the addition of a bar-area and lounge. “We have just really been concentrating on creating a more inviting atmosphere. New paintings, little knickknacks here and there. We also upgraded our sound system,” said Kenna.
Although any further plans for the future are uncertain for the Underground, Kenna believes that the growth so far is because God wanted it to grow. “We spent so much time trying to figure out what exactly to do with The Underground and I am pleased that we have gotten to know so many great people but it is all because God wanted it.”
The increased popularity brought many bands and friends through Underground’s doors each week. One of these friends, solo-performer Maggie Rose, finds comfort in the Underground’s environment. “The Underground is a place where I know I’m safe and I know I don’t have to worry about pressure to do ANYTHING. And even though it’s at a church, no one forces their views upon you,” said Rose.
The Underground holds weekly, all-ages, free cover shows every Saturday evening starting at 6 p.m. For more information on The Underground, you can find their website at www.undergroundrocks.org