With 10 minutes to spare before the start of his concert, East Austin resident Jason Allen has yet to put his shoes on. With a minute to spare, the Allens finish tucking away their kids for the night, and step into the backyard just in time for the opening act at Bungalow East.
However, Bungalow East isn’t a music venue. It’s a house. Any house in East Austin.
Erica Tello and Loleita Vatikani created Bungalow East, a music promotion project based in East Austin, to showcase local talent. Tello and Vatikani seek to create an environment where artists can grow by putting on house shows in the neighborhoods of East Austin and inviting the surrounding community.
“We always wanted to bring the community together,” Tello said. “Living in East Austin gave us that sense of inspiration because all of our friends live on this side of town.”
UT alumnus Kevin Johnson (2017), known by his stage name Lonesome Rhodes, played one of the Bungalow East shows before its official start. The advertising and rhetoric and writing graduate said the project is awesome because it feels like an actual concert.
“Erica and Leita really nailed down the logistics of the show in terms of creating a sense of community,” Johnson said. “It’s a good mix of people (who) create an
environment where it feels like people actually care about what you have to say.”
Vatikani said she believes it is also important to promote East Austin by putting “East” in their name because they are “aware of the effects gentrification and displacement have on the historic community.”
“If you’re going to one of our shows, you’re probably going to head out to an eastside restaurant or bar afterwards,” Vatikani said.
Although the shows are shining the spotlight on East Austin, neighbors such as Jason Allen say that the exposure is not making a difference because of increasing property tax rates.
“We have lived here for more than 10 years, and when we moved the community was made up of 70% homeowners and 30% renters,” Allen said. “Now it’s the opposite, and land is constantly being bought to create new structures that investors just rent out to people.”
A study done by ATTOM Data Solutions found through an analysis of 87 million United States single family homes that U.S. property taxes rose by 4% between 2017 and 2018. Texas had the third-highest property tax rate among the data recorded.
“We’re hoping that Bungalow East could show the people of Austin that the east side has a lot more to offer than real estate,” Tello said.