Hexagon House Brings DIY Ethos to Music Lovers in Northside

Liz Wolf carefully curates an adventurous lineup of shows in a unique, welcoming space.

click to enlarge Mol Sullivan performs with Rae Fisher at Hexagon House in 2022. - Photo: Brent Stroud
Photo: Brent Stroud
Mol Sullivan performs with Rae Fisher at Hexagon House in 2022.

One of Cincinnati’s newest and most varied venues sits on a hilltop in Northside, hosting carefully curated performances and events from musicians from a variety of genres and backgrounds.

It’s called Hexagon House, and it’s also the home of venue curator, Liz Wolf. Surrounded by the colored glow of carefully positioned lamps and paper lanterns, acts perform from a deck to an audience spread across her back lawn in the open air. In some cases, shows take place in the house itself among more lights and eclectic decor.

Originally from California, Wolf moved to Ohio with former partner and Cincinnati native musician Josiah Wolf in 2008. In 2013, the couple purchased the Northside home that would become Hexagon House for its seclusion and proximity to the city. Wolf worked in food and beverage hospitality while creating music under the name Dream Tiger, the electronic, dream-pop project she has since put on hold to focus on establishing Hexagon House.

Wolf says that as a touring musician herself, she noticed a huge need for better representation in venue programming and ownership as well as in the overall concert experience.

“As a woman, it just left me feeling salty and dirty the way most venues are maintained, the way they treat musicians and the absence of personal care for all aspects of live entertainment both on stage and in the audience,” Wolf tells CityBeat. “So I made it my mission to work towards opening my own venue.”

Wolf had time to move toward that goal in the summer of 2020, thanks to the pandemic-imposed shutdown. With both Wolf and her partner sidelined from work, the team began preparing their home to host events by building a deck, painting and landscaping.

“It’s a natural part of me and my creative expression to curate my physical environment,” Wolf says. “Since people respond positively to that, it made sense to use what we already have to bring our community together to experience live music in a safe and well-cared-for outdoor space.”

After separating from her partner, Wolf has been curating and hosting Hexagon House events along with setup, promotion, ticketing, sound and breakdown. For events with larger audiences of more than 100 – like that of July’s stripped-down show with local duo WHY? – she hires friend Emma Roberts to help out.

The first Hexagon House performance took place Aug. 29, 2020. Wolf says there were nine shows in that series and 12 in 2021. This year will bring Wolf’s longest series yet, she says, with events occurring regularly.

Wolf’s events are perhaps more ambitious than a normal house show or those in DIY spaces, both of which give musicians, like-minded artists and audiences alternatives to traditional bars, clubs and venues. She says she’s always looking to bring a complete and thoughtful experience to artists and music lovers.

“We only have a few clubs and venues that get it right in terms of sound, quality of programming and intentional listening. There is usually, at least, one of those elements sacrificed, and I aim to challenge that.”

The artists and Wolf’s audiences are treated as what they are – guests at her home.

“Liz is a gracious host that cares deeply about her guests and the artists, as well,” says longtime Cincinnati experimental ambient guitar player Pete Fosco. “The space itself is incredible. Liz spares no expense in energy when it comes to aesthetics,” adds Cincinnati alt-pop singer/songwriter and three-time Hexagon House performer Mol Sullivan. “Everything is lit very intentionally and beautifully. On the hillside, she puts little tabletops on stakes so that you can have a flat surface for your drinks.”

The atmosphere Wolf curates makes a difference, musicians say.

“The sun was setting and insects were buzzing, and there was something enchanting in the air,” Fosco says. “Hard to describe, but some places just get it.”

Audiences seem to be pleased with their experiences, as well.

“I think that one of the best things about the Hexagon shows so far has been the reception of the audience,” Sullivan says, noting that audiences are invested and committed to the evening by the very nature of ticketed house shows.

Diversity also is important to Hexagon House, Wolf says.

“I know for myself and many artists, we do not feel welcome, safe, comfortable, or – at the very least – feel the programming is diverse enough that there is something there for them and their community,” Wolf says about shows in traditional venues. “I am really intentional about that.”

Wolf says she puts care into spotlighting different genres, such as local alternative neo-soul band Freedom Nicole Moore & The Electric Moon, experimental percussionist and visual-artist Ben Sloan, rapper/activist Siri Imani and world-traveling performer pianist Brianna Matzke. She hopes to book more touring artists but must first find funding to give them a financial guarantee.

“If you’re reading this and you are that person, please hit me up!” Wolf suggests. “I’m very interested in securing funding and collaborating for acts that honestly don’t usually come through Cincinnati because we don’t have the right venue for them.”

Hexagon House shows also often feature local up-and-comers like multi-instrumentalist Bailey Miller or singer/songwriter Rae Fisher as opening acts. On a recent night with a threat of rain, Sullivan, her band and Fisher performed inside the house together in a special one-night-only collaboration, with Fisher backing Sullivan on vocals while 50 or so attendees loosely crammed into the open space.

Hexagon House has a number of events lined up, including the third installment of runway show Nite Lewks on Aug. 27, and Whited Sepulchre Records Festival on Sept. 3 and 4, featuring local and national artists such as Airport People (Indianapolis), Midwife (Los Cruces, N.M.), Cincinnati’s Breanna Kelly and Bailey Miller and others.

Wolf says that Hexagon House is just the beginning – she ultimately wants to open a location that serves as a venue, club and art space. She adds that she’ll schedule Hexagon House programming until she sells the Northside house – currently planned for spring – at which point, “I’ll have the next location/iteration of HH ready to go.”

“Taking the next step from DIY to an intimate but highly curated and professionally executed nightclub is my goal,” Wolf says.

Hexagon House, Northside. Info: eventbrite.com/o/hexagon-house-presents-30920906755.

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