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The Houseguest performs at the Athens Halloween Block Party in Athens, Ohio Oct. 28, 2023

The Houseguest amplifies its sound in Athens

As seasons change, concerts are among the best things to turn to for comfort. The warmth of fellow concert-goers provides shelter from the cold, and there is the bonus of supporting live, local music.

The Houseguest, a trio performing in Athens since last fall, provides that comforting concert experience.

Bending genres with each song, it isn't easy to put a label on the band. Drummer Sean Pierce, a junior studying environmental studies, said the band does not have one distinct genre.

"We've been asked many times," he said. "Generally you could say indie rock, but I think you can go deeper."

Indie rock is a broad genre that encapsulates everything from Arcade Fire to Cage the Elephant, but The Houseguest emulates many similar qualities.

Bassist Ben Kloppman, a senior studying early child education, said no two songs are alike.

"I wouldn't really know how exactly to describe the music that we make," he said. "But it just kind of all sounds a little different in the stuff we write. We pull from a lot of different places, and so I think that kind of shows up and it kind of makes it a little hard to pin down."

Whatever the genre or label, the trio brings the warm and fuzzy feelings needed as the frost sets in on Athens. The band can create a blend that almost anyone can enjoy by pulling from many different genres.

Singer and guitarist Leah Marshall, a junior studying environmental geography, said the musicians and bands of the 1990s inspire her.

"I would say my biggest guitar influences and writing influences are Hendrix and John Frusciante," she said. "I'm also inspired by a lot of '90s alternative rock bands, specifically Alice in Chains and Blind Melon."

On the other hand, not everyone in the band is moved by rock.

"I'm very influenced by jazz," Pierce said. "I listen to a lot of jazz drummers. Specifically, I like Joe Morello, especially his mixed-meter work. But (I) also listen to a lot of things. I have a bluegrass background as well."

The Houseguest is among the many student bands in Athens that are either female-fronted or have female members, much like Roman Candle and Split. However, being in the spotlight has brought unique challenges.

"I think it honestly surprised me a little how much I would notice," Marshall said. "I think there've been a couple of incidents where I was a little shocked just by what people have said or how they've acted. But I enjoy doing this and I think it's cool to see other bands with multiple women in it."

Even after almost a year of performances, the band members still deal with anxiety and stage fright. But they don’t let that stop them.

"After the first open mic, I turned to Leah and I said, 'That was fun, but I never want to do that again,'" said Kloppman. "It just freaked me out so much that I'd never been on stage like that before. And never saw this as something that I would be doing. But the fact that people come to see us play is wild."

From their first show, an open mic at Donkey Coffee, to being signed by Brick City Records, The Houseguest has drawn in a loyal fanbase.

"We, as every band, started out playing and only our friends were coming," said Pierce. "Now we're at shows and people are singing along in the front row and we don't even recognize them."

The Houseguest is working on an EP set to be released in the spring of next year by Brick City Records.

The Houseguest has three upcoming shows: Nov. 16 and Nov. 30 at The Union and Dec. 2 at Donkey Coffee. The band can be found on Instagram at @the.houseguest.


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