When you enter the garage of 243 Ryland St. you will not find any cars, gardening tools or storage bins. You will however, find a full PA system, amps, microphones, Christmas lights lining the ceiling, walls graffiti from touring bands and the fleeting afterglow of the Reno hardcore music scene.
243 Ryland St., more popularly known as Fort Ryland, is a house in a residential area of downtown Reno that frequently holds hardcore concerts in the garage. One of the venues most prominent characters, Adam Farnsworth, has been promoting shows since 2009. Farnsworth has booked local, national and international touring bands to come to Fort Ryland over the years and they have not come at an easy cost.
“I have lost thousands and thousands of dollars just putting in shows,” says Fransworth. “Never once have I made money on a show.”
Farnsworth uses the money that he earns tutoring autistic children to finance his ventures with the venue. These shows cost so much to put on because Fort Ryland is not technically a fully regulated music venue. Above all it is a house. They cannot legally charge at the door for shows because they do not have the permits necessary to run a concert venue.
This forces them to encourage donations at the show, but all of the money made goes straight back to the touring bands for playing. In the past the residents of the house have been threatened by the state to stop charging at their shows.
“We got a letter sent to us from the state saying that we needed to stop doing this or we were going to get a large fine and jail time,” says Suzie Quinn, “and it is always because of the money, because we are not allowed to charge at shows.”
Quinn has lived at Fort Ryland for three years with six other people. The house has seven rooms, including one that is directly behind the stage in the garage.
“When you move into this house you know what you are getting into,” says Quinn.
The letter was sent to them soon after Quinn had moved in, so to be cautious they put a hiatus on their shows for a few months. When the shows started up again Ryland added more strict regulations to the house. No shows past 10pm and all shows must be donations based.
On top of ticket sales, Fort Ryland does not meet for the city code regulations for a series of other restrictions including: violating fire code exits, no insurance liabilities for the people who attend shows, max occupancy rates and above all public noise ordinances policies.
The neighbors do not complain however, because they too hold concerts in their basement. Regardless of these violations Ryland continues to function as an unofficial venue for hardcore shows.
“I don’t think that anything would ever happen,” says Quinn “if I got arrested I would be very upset about it, but they know what we do and they just kind of leave us alone now.”
For over 10 years now, Fort Ryland has been an outlet for the hardcore music scene here in Reno. Hardcore music is very closely associated with another community known as straight edge.
“Straight edge is the lifestyle of choosing not to abuse any substances in any way,” says Aydin Ozbeck, lead singer of the hardcore, punk band Fathoms, “it is alternative lifestyle that just happens to compliment hardcore music.”
While the hardcore and straight edge communities receive a tip of the hate for their ability to remain drug and alcohol free, there is also a much darker side to the lifestyle.
“Hardcore is very aggressive music and sometimes the straight edge scene is associated with a lot of violence and fighting,” says Ozbeck.
On September 18th during a Twitching Tongues show held at the Holland Project, a large fight broke out right in front of the venue. The altercation was between two members of the hardcore straight edge community over past troubles.
“It is just upsetting that a few people can ruin everything for the rest of us.” says Loreina Balderas, a regular at Fort Ryland.
As a result of the fight, hardcore shows are being delay indefinitely at the Holland Project until they can figure out a way to hold them properly.
“I’ve been going to shows since 2006 and since then we have lost about 6 or 7 venues because of fights,” says Farnsworth.
This is why Fort Ryland has installed a strict no fighting policy at the house. If anything even starts to heat up they will be kicked off of the premises. On top of this are their other regulations of no drugs or alcohol in or around the venue.
The house has ended up creating its own rules in regulations in order to keep the music venue going. The past two years there have been no problems surrounding the venue, but three years ago they were still getting a lot of attention from the authorities.
“Right after we moved in and the cops still thought this was The Eyeball the cops could come to the shows and harass us all the time,” says Quinn, “They would threaten to get us evicted or get us thrown in jail.”
For a brief period, 2007 to 2008, Fort Ryland was called The Eyeball. Under its reign the house had very different policies, including a anything goes policy which brought in drugs, alcohol and cops.
The constant parting at the eyeball gave 243 Ryland a bad reputation with the city that carried over for the first few months of Quinn living at the house. Despite all of the struggles the house has had, Farnsworth and Quinn continue the venue.
“ I hope that whoever moves into Fort Ryland will continue it as a show house,” says Quinn. “We have worked so hard to rebuild Fort Ryland, it would be a shame to see it go away.”