Inside Hermiston's Underground Music Scene

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Grimm Den
John Pond, left, Dustin Mack, center, and Austin Henderson - three members of Hermiston's Manic Attack - played their first live gig at the Grimm Den last Friday.
PHOTOS BY BRETT KANE

[quote style=”2″]The Grimm Den Promotes Up-and-Coming Bands[/quote]

Tucked away on the outskirts of Hermiston sits an unassuming old building that most people don’t even know exists – at least people north of age 25.

The building, a converted garage, comes alive several weekends each month when it serves as the Northeast Oregon venue for young bands to perform in front of small, but high-energy audiences.

It’s the Grimm Den and its best described by a quote from its Facebook page:

“A venue built by the Scene for the Scene! With 180 capacity, it is small, in your face and our scene throws down hard!”

Located at 29916 Buffalo Lane, the Grimm Den hosts concerts by local bands as well as acts from around the country. This Saturday, the venue will play host to five bands, some out of L.A. and as far away as Florida.

Owner Derek Dickens opened Grimm Den as a means for supporting the local music scene and providing a positive environment for young people. No drugs or alcohol are permitted on the scene and Dickens encourages those in attendance to “keep it clean.”

Dickens is also the owner of Grimm Den Entertainment, which works to book and promote “underground” music in the Northwest. Dickens said the idea started out small but has grown over time.

“The Grimm Den itself started out as a small, nothing house venue that has grown into a huge stop for touring bands,” he said.

And while it may go unnoticed by those not hip to Hermiston’s own underground music scene, the Grimm Den is definitely a known entity among indie bands.

“Being in a prime location not far from several bigger cities, we are a major draw for the hardcore metal scene in our area and towns not too far away,” he said.

Signing stage
Nate Allen takes part in the pre-show ritual of signing the band’s name on the stage.

The Grimm Den recently underwent a renovation with Dickens and volunteers putting in new monitors, a new PA system, adding soundproofing to the venue and building a new, bigger stage.

Austin Henderson, 17, a Hermiston High School senior, has been to the Grimm Den many times – both as a performer with his band Manic Attack and as an audience member.

“The Grimm Den has hosted some of the best local shows that I’ve been to,” said Henderson. “The crowd cheers for the bands they haven’t even seen before.”

Manic Attack vocalist Dustin Mack is another long-time supporter of the Grimm Den.

“It’s always fun being a part of the audience,” said the 18-year-old Riverside High School senior. “I enjoy watching bands play and have always wondered what it would be like to perform live myself.”

Mack and his fellow band members got that chance last Friday when they made their debut public performance in front of about 50 fans at the Grimm Den. Sharing the venue that night was Portland’s Destroy Nate Allen and Darian Renee of Boise, Idaho.

“It was a very nerve-wracking experience,” said Mack. His jitters, however, subsided when he saw the positive reaction coming from the audience. “It was cool to see all of our friends singing along and new people enjoying our genre of music.”

It was an encouraging gig for Manic Attack, which describes itself as a four-piece folk punk band.

“I’m in this for the music,” said Henderson, one of the band’s guitarists. “After that gig, I’m looking forward to playing more shows at the Grimm Den.”

The Grimm Den is not just a place for new bands to break in. Dickens brings in veteran acts signed to small,

Darian Renee
Boise’s Darian Renee performs an acoustic set at the Grimm Den in Hermiston.

independent record labels. Both Destroy Nate Allen and Renee have established fan bases and released albums. And the types of music heard inside the Grimm Den can range from folk pop to deathcore metal. Last Friday’s show featured all acoustic sets, though many of the shows at the Grimm Den do feature metal bands.

“We have had some major bands come through our venue like King Conquer, Destruction of a King, The Last Ten Seconds of Life, Deserters and many more,” Dickens said.

Not familiar with those names? Ask your closest metal fan about them or check them out yourself on iTunes because they’ve all released EPs or albums.

Closer to home, Manic Attack may not have any albums, but they take their music seriously and definitely share the humble beginnings of any self-respecting indie band.

“We play the music that we want to hear,” said Henderson. “Manic Attack began in John’s bedroom with John and Dustin covering bands such as Man Overboard and Tiger’s Jaw.” The band also features Brandon Hinkley on bass and John Pond, who also plays guitar and sings.

Pond, 17, said transitioning from fan to performer was definitely a highlight.

“It was an amazing experience playing at the Grimm Den alongside established acts on the very same stage where I’ve watched bands from across the country,” he said.

Mosh sign
The Grimm Den offers fair warning to all moshers.

For bands like Manic Attack, the Grimm Den is a place where they can get some on-stage experience without having to encounter hostile or unfriendly crowds.

“The (Hermiston music scene) is full of some very supportive and caring people,” said Henderson.

This Saturday’s show at the Grimm Den will take a decidedly different turn from last Friday. The evening will feature Idols, Prestige, Sisyphean Conscience, Murder the Beast and Shadow of Heaven, all metal bands from the Pacific Northwest. The show starts at 7 p.m. and the cost is $8 at the door. Visit the Grimm Den website for more information.

And remember, as the sign at the Grimm Den advises, “Mosh at your own risk.”