How it works

What’s expected of the audience at a Dark Dining Room show?

1. Be in the moment.

Listen attentively. Forget you own a cell phone. Each act usually performs for 30-45 minutes, and there’s a 15 minute break in between to do things like mingle, make/take a call (this goes for texting too if you can help it), grab a drink or a bite to eat, etc. The idea of these shows is to try to be ‘in the moment’ as much as possible. The fewer distractions the better. Try and arrive on time and stay for the whole evening if you can help it. Sit back and relax.

2. Support the performers. Bring some cash.

Hosts typically volunteer the space for the show and musicians sometimes travel from quite far away to perform for you. They deserve some financial support. Try and be as generous as you can be. Support their art. If they have a CD and/or other merchandise, buy it. You won’t be sorry… and they’ll be grateful!

3. Respect the space. Make plans in advance.

These shows only have a limited amount of space and chairs available, and it’s deliberately kept small so that the performers and listeners can have a wonderful shared experience. Try and make reservations in advance if possible.

What’s expected of performers at a Dark Dining Room show?

1. Keep it simple. Minimal.

We have a very small 4-channel P/A system that’s primarily used for vocals. Some people plug their acoustic guitars into it too, but actually– some just play without any amplification at all. We want to balance the sound, but it’s generally a quieter atmosphere for sure. Drummers should bring brushes and a scaled down kit. There’s almost always either an actual piano or a keyboard with fully-weighted keys available at each show as well.

2. Bring your merchandise. Let us know what you need help with.

Let us know how we can help you sell some of your merchandise, get people to sign your email list, find a place to stay, eat, etc. We want to help you!

3. We like to see you. They like to meet you.

We’ll try our best to give you some space to warm up and have some alone time before the show, but one of the great things about these shows is that the traditional barrier between the artist and the performer is gone. We are hopeful that the performer doesn’t hide themselves away in the makeshift ‘green room’. People love these shows because they really feel like they can get to know and understand an artist that they might never have heard before. Take this opportunity to really connect with your  fans.

How did Dark Dining Room get started?

Matthew Larsen is a singer/songwriter who started doing these types of shows after going through cancer treatment at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in 2005. Recovery was slow and isolating, so he started inviting musicians over to play music in his mostly empty dining room. The room was so empty it didn’t even have lamps. But it sounded great, and there was something special about being in a cozy room with a group of other people listening to live music in the dark.

As a nod to Matthew’s cancer history, some shows have been held to raise money for charitable organizations that make a difference in the cancer community. Dark Dining Room has raised money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, American Cancer Society, The SAMFund, The Jimmy Fund and The V Foundation for Cancer Research.

Who has played a Dark Dining Room show?

We have really lucked out with our performers. Past performers include David Berkeley, Eef Barzelay (Clem Snide), Heather Maloney, Darlingside, The Low Anthem, Winterpills, KaiserCartel, Amber Rubarth, Native Run, Will Stratton, Matthew Carefully, Haunt, Andrew Vladeck, Dennis Crommett, Henning Ohlenbusch and others.

How can I find out about Dark Dining Room shows? How can I attend?

The main page of this site has a list of shows and details for each show. You should also check out our Facebook page. We post new shows there as well as details on how you can attend. Each show is unique.

Can I host my own Dark Dining Room show?

Yes! If you are looking to host a Dark Dining Room house concert in your space, email Most people have never hosted a house concert before. Feel free to bombard us with questions about number of guests, sound level, parking, food, etc. The great thing about these shows is that they can always be tailored to your specific space or wishes. We’ll do our best to guide you through the process. It’s a lot of fun!

I’m an artist. Can I be booked for a Dark Dining Room show?

Sure! (but it’s a little complicated). Because we are not a regular concert venue, we need to coordinate dates/locations/logistics for each and every show. We keep our eyes and ears open, and have a good list of artists/bands who we think would work great for a Dark Dining Room show. Much of the time, we hear about other musicians through people who have attended or performed at a previous Dark Dining Room show. If you’re interested in getting on the roster for future consideration, send some info to Include any other musicians whom you think would be a good fit for your music. Better yet, tell us how you’re connected to any of the past Dark Dining Room performers or attendees and how you heard of us. We can’t often respond until we know who might be able to host the show. Sometimes that takes weeks, months, or years.

I’m part of the media/press and would love to do a story on the Dark Dining Room house concert series. Who can I talk to?

For press inquiries, email We love all forms of media, so if you have a good idea on how you can do a podcast or video or some sort of audio/video streaming situation, that would be quite great. Lighting could be a challenge. After all, it IS a DARK Dining Room show.