While Hometowns of Consequence is meant to celebrate the venues continuing to bring life to the local music scenes across the country, we can look to history for why honoring these spaces is so important. Even when this hallowed halls of culture are gone, their legacy often lives on in the artists who made them home. Such is the case with Portugal. The Man, who today remember the long-gone Anchorage, Alaska hotspot Gig’s.
Known as “Anchorage’s only all-ages original music venue,” Gig’s had a local mindset with an international reach. While it welcomed bands like Blink-182, Fishbone, Agent Orange, The Posies, 7 Year Bitch, and even The Jesus Lizard in its short existence (1995-1998), its true claim to greatness was giving local talent like Option Overdrive, Behind the Smile, The Downtown Slickerpickers, DJ H. Geek, Scooby, Parallaz1, Short Fuse, and countless others.
“This is where PTM got its roots in DIY music ethos,” says the band’s John Gourley. “We’ve grown since then, but in our personal lives we maintain those values. ”
Those values lead directly to their new album, Chris Black Changed My Life. The recent release is an ode to their late friend, the Chris Black of the title, as a way to “honor these people that change our lives.” Same goes for the concurrent Frances Changed My Life campaign, which finds the band seeking donations to help pay for life-saving medical treatment for Gourley’s daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare neuro degenerative disease.
This willingness to reach out to the community, to bring people together for music, causes, and love, stems from the ethos PTM learned from places like Gig’s. Below, read what Portugal. The Man’s Gourley has to say about what the venue brought to the city of Anchorage, and how we can continue to support the places that provide hometowns across the country that same lifeblood.
You can also vote for your own at Hometowns of Consequence or via the widget below, and see which venues artists like Josh Homme, The Dead Milkmen, UPSAHL, Deer Tick, McKinley Dixon, and OSEES named as their favorites.
What’s your favorite local venue under 2,000 capacity and why?
My favorite venue was Gig’s in Anchorage. It doesn’t exist anymore, but that place was crazy. I saw The Jesus Lizard play there with maybe 20 people, it was insane. We actually ran into David Yow [lead singer of The Jesus Lizard] years later drinking our beer at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee.
What’s a particularly strong memory you have of playing or seeing a show there?
Gig’s was my introduction to hardcore punk. I had discovered Pantera, Metallica, Slayer, and Sepultura at this point, but the smaller, less technical, more passion and anger-driven music resonated.
Did Gig’s play an important part in your career and development as an artist?
Absolutely. Without Gig’s I wouldn’t have known of Ian MacKaye or Henry Rollins. This is where PTM got its roots in DIY music ethos. We’ve grown since then, but in our personal lives we maintain those values.
Why would you encourage fans to go see a show or musicians to play a gig at smaller, local venues like Gig’s?
Support local. See things you don’t know, you might be surprised. To me, the greatest feeling in the world is discovering something new. When you surround yourself with passionate people, you open yourself up to it.
What separates an “okay” venue from a “good” one, and what made Gig’s great?
Love and care. A healthy safe space that feels welcoming to new folks. These were my favorite skate crews growing up. Hype up the youth. That’s what we’re here for.
What would you say to the people behind the scenes that are keeping Anchorage’s music scene and culture alive?
I have to give a shout out to Quinn Christopherson and Nick Carpenter for the positivity and love they’ve brought to the Alaska music scene. I love those fools so much.