Rocking the neighborhood

Music at Two Pines draws complaints from neighbors

— This past year saw a string of news stories in local publications about so-called “punk houses,” homes where groups of young musicians live, play and host performances by other bands.

The phenomenon wasn’t exactly news to Jim Fiala and Samantha Smith, residents of The Wedge who live across Lyndale Avenue South from a house known as Two Pines, which was mentioned in more than one of those news stories. Fiala and Smith said they called police repeatedly in 2007 to complain about loud music and partying at Two Pines, 2445 Lyndale Ave. S.

“To me, the tone is, ‘Well, isn’t this great? It’s a wonderful place to see underground bands,’” Smith said, describing her reaction to the reporting. “… Well, you know what? To me, glorifying that — it’s ludicrous.”

Two Pines resident and musician Andrew Jansen, 24, said complaints about the house were overblown. The housemates — numbering five in February — tried to be respectful of neighbors, Jansen said.

“Obviously, our neighbors are a concern; like, they’re our neighbors,” he said. “At the same time, I feel like we adhere to the laws just enough.”

The Minneapolis Police Department recorded 18 visits to Two Pines’ address in all of 2007 and the first month of 2008; 10 times for reports of a loud party and six for complaints about loud music. None of those calls resulted in a Two Pines resident being ticketed by police.

That baffled Smith and Fiala, who said their complaints to police should have resulted in penalties for the residents and their landlord.

Donations accepted

Two Pines takes its name from two towering conifers that rise like telephone poles from the front yard. For those who learn about the house from its MySpace page and decide to check out a show, the landmark is hard to miss.

Laid-back, bushy bearded Jansen said a number of houses across the city hosted free shows. At Two Pines, friends and strangers offer donations in exchange for music and, sometimes, a spread of homemade food.

On Feb. 17, a Sunday, there was vegan chili on the stove in the kitchen and Samosa, a Minneapolis jazz trio, playing in an adjoining room. About two dozen young adults sat in the living room or crowded in doorways, listening attentively.

Jansen went down to the basement, another place where bands sometimes perform.

“The only time I’ve ever thought that we have been a nuisance it’s [been] because of bass [guitar sound], and that’s been a couple of times,” he said.

He acknowledged that shows were much more frequent — up 10 per month — and attracted larger crowds in the summer. Conferring with a friend, he estimated 50–60 people packed the house for at least one show, with up to 30 more people in the backyard.

“This summer it was like we had an excess of shows, … and I agree there were too many,” he said.

Jansen said some other Minneapolis houses stopped hosting shows over the summer. The touring bands that seek out underground venues had fewer places to perform, so Two Pines picked up the slack.

On that night, touring bands from Chicago and Bloomington, Ind., stopped in at Two Pines, earning some donations from the audience.

“In my opinion, Minneapolis rivals cities like Seattle, San Francisco [or] even, like, Philadelphia and New York City,” Jansen said. “I believe we’re a world-class city and these musicians need a place to go.”

Quieter recently

By accounts from neighbors, that Feb. 17 show was barely audible outside of Two Pines. Next-door neighbor Joe Walsh said the house was “90- to 95-percent” quieter over the previous several months.

“They have been much better, and they have been good neighbors recently,” Walsh said, describing Jansen in particular as “a super-nice guy.”

Still, Walsh, like Fiala and Smith, said music and loud partying at night — as well as daytime practice sessions — were an annoyance over the summer and fall. He, too, had called police when it was at its worst.

Crime Prevention Specialist (CPS) Chelsea Adams said police records at the 5th Precinct indicated parties at Two Pines often were either quieted or broken up by the time officers responded to neighbors’ calls.

Still, records show the previous CPS sent two letters to landlord Michael Martin, the owner of 2445 Lyndale Ave. S., for the tenants’ violations of the city’s noisy party ordinance.

Martin said he spoke with the tenants when he heard from neighbors about a party over the summer.

“I do not condone that,”
Martin said. “As soon as I was made aware of it I put a stop to it.”

Jansen said the response from neighbors brought unwanted conflict — and a realization.

“I’ve heard this neighborhood was, like, a little more edgy, or whatever, 10 years ago, and … this sort of thing was a little more acceptable,” he said, “[but] maybe it’s not to people anymore.”

Within a few months, the Two Pines residents planned a move to Powderhorn Park.

“Uptown can have that,” Jansen said. “If they want quiet, and they want their white bread — you can have it.”

Reach Dylan Thomas at [email protected] or 436-4391.