Support safe spaces in the local scene


Elena Lopez, the San Antonio artist behind the project Elnuh, sang at the Paper Tiger earlier this month. Elnuh is one of the bands writer Dominic Walsh describes as one that supports safe spaces in the local music scene. Photo provided by Kathleen Creedon

Every year, Trinity pushes for students to break out of the “Trinity Bubble.” One avenue out of the bubble is participation in San Antonio’s music scene, and you’re likely to see and hear about more musical happenings in and around the city this year as student participation in the scene increases. This is great! As a musician/artist manager/radio person in the local indie scene, it’s really gratifying to see fellow students exhibiting a growing interest in the community I’ve spent most of the past three years of my life living and working in.

Definitely go to shows! Whether it’s a huge artist with an international following playing at the Paper Tiger or a local project releasing an EP at a house show, a higher level of participation from college kids will absolutely help the local scene continue to thrive and grow which ultimately makes San Antonio a better place to live.

But when you consider which show/venue/artist to support, give preference to those that endeavor to create safe spaces. San Antonio’s scene is in a critical stage of growth — really great artists from out of town are starting to consider San Antonio a major city to hit on tours. Local projects are interacting with these out of town artists, opening up incredible doors and making solid connections. Several local projects are gaining a lot of regional and national attention, but all of that is wasted if the local community that helped these projects grow doesn’t feel comfortable and safe at shows.

A vital step towards creating a safe space for everyone — particularly women, the LGBTQ+ community and people of color — is to support projects with members who are female, LGBTQ+ or artists of color. Higher representation of these groups among artists is key to enforcing the foundation that safe spaces rest upon: everyone deserves to participate in the music scene.

Good identifiers of safe spaces vary from case to case, and sometimes you might have to trust your gut or word of mouth, though some concrete identifiers exist. For house shows, look for event descriptions on flyers with a phone number to contact if you feel uncomfortable; the presence of bands that refuse to play with known or alleged abusers on a lineup; the presence of artists who are female, LGBTQ+ or persons of color on the bill and a statement on the event page or flyer that clearly states something like, “safe space — abusers not welcome.”

I hate to highlight the negative, so I’ll shine a light on the positive by mentioning a few artists and organizations that make an effort to create safe places for the community. The artists on my management roster are the people I trust the most when it comes to this stuff — Booty Feet, Elnuh, Slomobile, Samantha Flowers and Vonna. Artists and individuals affiliated with Bassethound Collective are also attentive to crafting inclusive, safe spaces, as are the members of the instrumental trio, Verisimilitude. There are others, but I’ve had personal conversations with and seen concrete action from the aforementioned artists and organizations directly addressing the need and ways to attain more safe spaces in San Antonio.

Support San Antonio’s music scene by supporting safe spaces!