Local bass player creates venue for upcoming bands


Noelle Salazar

The Grow Ops playing a show at The Darkroom earlier this month.

Allison Formeller, Staff Writer

Going to the darkroom used to mean developing photos. But local bass player Noelle Salazar has given it a new meaning by hosting local bands in her basement- which she calls the Darkroom. 

“I first got into music by constantly being around the music my parents played,” Salazar said. “I remember…sitting in the garage on hot summer nights with my parents listening to great artists like Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Grateful Dead. [I’m] thankful that I grew up around good music, it made me have the one-of-a-kind music taste that I have today.”

This unique music taste, which ranges from bands from the 70s, 80s and 90s to current underground artists influenced Salazar to learn more about music. 

Listening and watching her favorite bands play influenced her to start playing bass.

“I had wanted to start playing an instrument, but I didn’t know which one to choose,” Salazar said. “Everyone plays guitar so I decided bass was going to be my instrument. What helped influence my bass playing was the bassist for the Smashing Pumpkins, D’arcy Wretzky. Her stage presence and the specific way she played bass was what really got me going.”

Salazar decided to host her own shows after a few years of constantly practicing bass and a few months playing bass for local band Sunday Cruise

Filled with strings of white, red and purple fairy lights, The Darkroom has a soft glow, creating a cozy atmosphere that seems to contradict the loud, passionate music played there.

“I wanted to create a comfortable, fun and chill atmosphere for bands to be able to play their music and for people to come and enjoy watching bands play,” said Salazar. 

Officially opened in late September of this year, the Darkroom has seen three successful shows to date. These shows consisted of bands from thrash, punk and alternative genres.

Salazar has been promoting The Darkroom on social media such as Facebook and Instagram.

“I heard about The Darkroom through friends of mine that played at this venue, [and] I’ve attended all…the shows yet,” said Jenna Bruskin, a friend of Salazar.

House shows are also common among musicians and showgoers. However, even with promotion, drawing in crowds and making sure they return isn’t always easy, especially since smaller venues in Elgin and the surrounding area hold local shows fairly frequently. 

“I do go to other local venues, [but] the difference between [other venues and The Darkroom] is that everyone is…more inviting in The Darkroom,” Bruskin said. “[However] I keep going because I’m never disappointed with the outcome of these shows!”

According to Salazar, fostering an atmosphere of friendliness and a love of music is what’s important. While The Darkroom has seen both big and small crowds, what really matters to her is that bands have a place to play their music and be heard.

“The vibe in The Darkroom is [about] sharing the love for music. It’s…always a good time,” said Bruskin.

Sharing a love for music has come full circle for Salazar and her family. When Salazar was a kid, she would sit in the garage and listen to music with her parents, who introduced her to new music and artists. Now the roles are reversed, and Salazar’s parents are listening to the new bands that she invites to The Darkroom.

“My family has been very supportive of me hosting shows in my basement and I am very thankful…for that,” Salazar said. “I’ll look around while the bands are playing and see them in the crowd watching the bands play and admiring the music.”

Being a former member of Sunday Cruise, and now hosting shows, Salazar has seen different sides of the local music scene, yet her appreciation for good music hasn’t changed.

“As long as bands have a place to play their music and for people to show up, support them and have a good time, that’s all that should matter,” Salazar said.