BENNINGTON — While strolling eastward on Main Street, one might notice a large orange game controller on the storefront of the Gamer's Grotto. The game store will open its doors to live music from local musicians on Feb. 27.
From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m., The Ear, The Eye and The Arm along with Will Inman will perform an alternative style of music. This is the second time The Ear, The Eye and The Arm has performed at the game store, lead vocalist Seth Bartholdi said.
Traditionally known for selling board games, video games, movies and much more under the spectrum, the Gamer's Grotto has space that's available for others in the community to rent out, owner Keith Carey explained. Kids' parties have always occurred at the location, but now Carey wants to loan the opportunity to more than just children.
"It allows people to have a live show outside of a bar setting," Carey said. "It's not a music venue, but others can make use of the space."
There is a large wooded floor area in the back of the store lined with six to eight tables and chairs opposite to four flat screen televisions. Teens typically use the Grotto's table space for free to play board and card games after school until their parents come. Carey said all are supervised and any inappropriate language, violence or abnormal behavior is addressed.
Other activities include overnight events or movie marathons, birthdays, group meetings, live music and broadcast events such as a concert displayed on a projector screen. Carey hasn't finalized entertainment pricing and only takes care of setting up the space while the renter provides necessary equipment and handles promotion.
"I used to want it to be strictly gaming," Carey said, "but it's a beautiful space; might as well use it for something. The show will be after hours so it doesn't interfere with business hours."
The Ear, The Eye and The Arm consists of Seth Bartholdi, lead guitarist and vocals from Woodford, Mitchell Sweet on bass guitar and vocals from Rotterdam, N.Y., Brandon Olson with lead guitar and vocals, Brandon Corbeil with rhythm guitar and harsh vocals and Kyle Frechette on the drums who both hail from Bennington.
Bartholdi and Corbeil formed the band at the end of 2014 after previously playing together in the band Vice Versa. Both have been playing music since they were 14. Bartholdi, who is passionate about reaching younger audiences for live music in the area, said Grotto's is a safe location for this type of event.
"It feels like some people in the town don't think about putting events together for younger audiences," Bartholdi said. "It wasn't perfect, but we used to have Knapps Underground and The Nest which were safe place for people to go and play music."
It's not that bars aren't safe, Bartholdi reiterated, but most won't allow people under 21 or 18 to enter.
"I wanted to go to shows when I was 14, 15, 16 and so on, but a lot of bars wont let you in, and that's their right, I agree," he explained. "More than that, parents don't want their kids going into bars and I can understand that."
Bartholdi added that the band wants to appeal to a younger audience considering some of its members are between 18 and 22 years old.
"We're not just trying to promote ourselves," he said, "we want other people to play music and if you go talk to Keith and get people to come, it can be a place safe for people to go and play music."
Even though the Basement Music Series happens on the same night, Bartholdi and Carey don't believe the music will draw one crowd away from the other. Both said the two audiences are completely different.
"There's plenty of work here if you're doing jazz or rock but not punk or metal. It gets shut down at the get-go or won't last to even see if kids will come to see it," Bartholdi said. "We're trying to get more styles of music in different places, anyone who wants to talk to us about working together, we're completely down for it."
Will Inman will join the band on Saturday with his guitar. He's a friend of Bartholdi based out of Burlington.
For information about renting space at Gamer's Grotto, contact Carey at 802-447-0091 and email Bartholdi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.