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Exponent Manor, home of the house show

The lane is dark except for the orange glow of the streetlights. Quaint homes line the street.

Every few minutes, a small group of people pass by, clad in beanies, hoodies and plaid, making their way to the end of the street.

Gathered inside a home on Georgia Avenue are more than 100 people, all there to hear a band play in the corner of the living room.

A full-scale soundboard sits directly next to the front door while instrument cases – and people – are tucked into the nooks of the room. Guests stream in and out of the house as boxes of band merchandise are brought between sets. It may be a tight fit, but no one seems to mind.

Most people say they live through music, but Belmont senior Michael Pfohl can lay claim to that assertion – literally. The resident of a two-story dwelling in a modest neighborhood off Charlotte Pike, Pfohl uses his home to play host to shows on a near-weekly basis.

The home, referred to as Exponent Manor, has seen more than 125 shows since May 2013.

Owner of booking and promotion company Fountainhead Booking, Pfohl began booking bands for shows upon his arrival at Belmont his freshman year.

“No one was throwing shows, so I figured I’d just go do it,” he said.

This entrepreneurial spirit drove him to make connections at various underground venues in Nashville, Tenn. until he was able to book shows in his own space. Shows range from intimate limited-ticket engagements to a couple hundred people packed into the house.

“The biggest show I’ve thrown was for this band Counterparts,” Pfohl said. “Two hundred people showed up. It was insane. Three people crowd-surfed at the same time in the living room. People had to crawl through the window to get in; we couldn’t open the front door. It was crazy.”

Most artists coming through the house are touring artists of the indie, punk and post-rock genres.

With the space, Pfohl’s said his aim is to provide a platform for fledgling bands to grow their fanbase.

“What I want to do is allow these smaller bands an avenue to grow so that people can say, ‘Oh, I saw them when they played a house show,’ and it will be a point of pride for them,” he said.

The home is arranged with the sole intent of creating the perfect space for a house show. This means a living room devoted entirely to shows, another room for storing gear and a room with extra couches and mattresses for band members to crash should they need a place to stay for the night. Within the kitchen are tables set up exclusively for artists to sell merchandise.

Pfohl hopes to provide a welcoming space for both bands and guests, whether at Exponent Manor or any other space he may operate in the future.

“I don’t want people to come in and feel left out or threatened in any way, and that’s a really important thing that’s lost at other venues,” he says. “People come in, and it feels inherently hostile, so I just want it to feel inviting.”

And how exactly did the name Exponent Manor come about?

“The address is 2828 Georgia Ave., and Georgia Avenue is right off 28th. Friends were joking around about how ‘oh, it’s an exponent!’ But if you know anything about math, you’d know that’s not at all how exponents work,” Pfohl explained. “But it’s too late to change the name.”

Regardless of name, with an impressive track record of successful shows in only a little more than a year of existence, it’s clear that Exponent Manor has earned its place in the underground Nashville scene.

A website launch is in the works, but until then information about upcoming shows at Exponent Manor can be found on Fountainhead Booking’s Facebook page.

Home may be where the heart is, but in Pfohl’s case, it’s also where the music is.

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