Walking into The Pool feels like going to Fight Club. With no phone number, no website and no owners’ names associated with it, many depend on not-so-discreetly following a few promising-looking concert-goers down the hallway of a high school-turned-apartment building to find the concert venue located in what used to be a swimming pool.
“It’s easily the most unique place I’ve played at,” says Mike Maimone, a member of Chicago-based Mutts, who played at The Pool on Feb. 15. “I play about 150 shows a year around the country, and I’ve never played in a swimming pool before.”
The Pool lives up to its name — even the ladders are still intact. In a tribute to its origins, a copy of “South Bend Central High School Remembered” lies open to pages depicting the pool being used in 1951. Old newspapers from past swim competitions hang on the walls.
Overlooking the patio is a kitchen where patrons often hand out homemade food on mismatched plates. It’s reminiscent of friends hanging out at an apartment, and actually that’s precisely what it is – there’s a bed and pillows behind the “stage,” which itself sits in the middle of the owner’s living room at the bottom of the pool.
Attendees walk in to a kindhearted petition for donations, a poster that reads “Free drinks! But remember to be awesome” and two ground rules: no underage drinking and no illegal drugs.
Senior Will Murray lives at The Pool and helps plan the concerts held there. Bands who are planning tours through the area contact Murray, who then works to set up possible dates at The Pool and to include local acts as well.
“I really try to balance quality with that local focus so The Pool can continue to showcase and grow South Bend’s rising scene,” Murray says. “Booking and running the shows is a lot of work, but I love music, and I love every minute of it — even cleaning up after huge crowds come through.”