It might not seem like it now, but The Pinhook was quite the risky endeavor when it opened its doors just in time for the 2009 Troika Music Festival. At the time, Durham’s only other semi-consistent rock clubs were the student-booked Duke Coffeehouse, a multipurpose space on the university’s campus, and Broad Street Café, a venue still trying to figure out its musical mix. The market for a Bull City indie rock venue was unclear. They could have been opening to more interest than their 150-capacity room could serve.
Three years later, The Pinhook is only an afternoon away from an anniversary blowout that will include national indie stars Javelin and Crystal Antlers. It will be a sweet occasion, made sweeter by the recent completion of their Kickstarter fundraiser to make key upgrades to the space, most importantly a new sound system. More than 270 backers (Note: Contributors include Independent employees, including Music Editor Grayson Currin) helped the venue best its $15,000 goal on the popular fund-raising website. Co-owner Kym Register calls the response humbling, a reminder of how important their little community arts space has become.
“When we started off with this goal, we weren’t positive that we were going to make it,” she says. “It’s a lot of money to ask for, but it was just a shot in the dark because that was the only way that we could do it. I’m pretty amazed at the community in Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill because it was all of us. Then people outside of this area: there was one person from Wisconsin who was like, ‘I’m from Durham. I’m so glad that this venue is there. Here’s $50.’ It’s just really humbling to have people believe in the venue so much.”
It’s that sense of community that Register says they hope to enhance and protect with these upgrades. The slogan of the campaign was “Your venue, your sound!” and the changes will be made to make The Pinhook a stronger asset for its Durham home. Among other things, they hope to strengthen their stage, aquire a bigger sound board that can support sound checks for each band playing a show, and improve the overall aesthic of the room. They’ve had recent luck drawing national touring acts; popular indies Memoryhouse and O’Death have played the space in the last two months. By maintaining such shows, The Pinhook could provide choice opening slots for local bands and strengthen Durham’s profile as a place to see live music.
“I feel like all of that interesects at the idea of community and making things accessible,” Register says. “We want our space to be as perfect as possible, to be as good as it can be in offering that up while keeping the accessibility thing intact.”
The Pinhook’s three-year anniversary celebration takes place at the venue Thursday, Friday and Saturday. MEN join Tayisha Busay on Thursday at 9 p.m. Tickets are $8. Crystal Antlers plays with Old Bricks and Free Electric State on Friday. Javelin plays with Organos on Saturday. Both shows start at 10 p.m. and cost $10 and $12 respectively.