Underground Forest closes doors to local bands, concert-goers

Located in the heart of the Barnyard in the Carmel Crossroads lies an empty art gallery. What was once a haven for teens and young adults to enjoy live music has now become a depressing scene for those who used to enjoy local bands there.

The Underground Forest was owned and operated by Forrest Eggleston with few rules. The place was meant to be a place where people could express themselves any way they wanted as long as it did not endanger themselves or others.

According to Eggleston, this led to a lot of problems with management at the Barnyard; people who would come to the show were generally disrespectful in the space outside the studio. Showgoers would come and trash the area; cigarette butts and empty beer cans were left on the ground; a teenager even threw himself into one of the gardens. These all led to Eggleston being unable to renew his lease and ultimately to him losing the space.

When contacted, Barnyard general manager Marilyn Schultz said she was unable to discuss issues with the lease.

For the years the Underground Forest was active, countless local bands rocked the tiny venue to its core. For a few local bands, such as Glass House and DZR (pronounced desire), the basement studio was a second home where they could come to paint, write music, practice music and play shows. The Underground Forest was a place where creativity reigned, no matter how bizarre it became.

However, the space was not originally intended to be a venue for local bands.

“When we originally got it, it was with the intent of doing a print shop,” Eggleston says, “because to get the place, to take over the lease, I had to become professional. And whether it was (obscenity) or no, we had to tell the dude what we were going to do there.”

Eggleston split the rent with Adam Campbell and his younger brother Zach, both digital artists and photographers.

With so much more space than they needed, they decided that they could do more with it. After a couple of months of renting the space, they decided to host a couple of live painting events. Rashad Eggleston—Forrest’s cousin—and Forrest’s father Herb would come down and play live ambient music. While the music was going, Forrest and his girlfriend Margo Wattebled would paint.

It wasn’t till Meagan Hoch of Glass House came to Forrest asking him if they could use his space to play a show to celebrate the release of their EP “We F—– Up” that the space was then outfitted with amps and a PA system, and it became the Underground Forest.

“It’s hard to find practice spaces, and there are really only three venues for people under 21 to play,” Hoch says. “It was kind of centrally located for a lot of kids, like those from Carmel Valley and Monterey. It was a bit of a drive for Salinas.”

Hoch expresses the sentiment carried by many local bands that played in the space. Bands like DZR say that the place was truly a bastion of creative energy in Carmel. They were allowed to play as loud as they wanted for as long as they wanted, and if not for the Somos Gallery in Salinas, they would have nowhere to play.

Some bands such as Mental Musk, a band considered by most to be more hardcore than other local bands, were left with nowhere to practice or play.

“We didn’t really have anywhere else to play after that,” says Patrick Kelly, drummer of Mental Musk. “We kinda got reduced to playing house parties and basically going back to square one.”

While in commission, the Underground Forest provided a place where bands could go to express themselves; however, with the closing came the end of rock music in Carmel, and even the end to some of the area’s more prolific bands.

-Archer Michaels