If you know anything about the Campbell Club, it probably has to do with either its hippies or its parties — and if you know anything about its parties, it’s that they tend to get broken up. In recent years, the co-op has had two notable run-ins with the police — one in 2008 and another this February. The first resulted in four arrests. The second, prompted by a noise violation, resulted in 23. While the co-op began hosting parties again fairly quickly after the first bust, it is still in the process of recovering from the second.
The Campbell Club is probably the University of Oregon’s foremost venue for live music, organizing open mics on Tuesdays and booking small bands to play parties that end up much larger than those bands’ average draws. But since the raid, the co-op has taken extreme care in organizing its events.
“We weren’t even sure if we wanted to keep having open mics,” said Max Kelner, current resident of the Campbell Club. “But we decided to because we just wanted to keep music accessible to people. I think that’s one of the driving forces behind this place — I mean, how many places can you see live music for five bucks, all ages?”
Not many, at least not this close to campus. That’s why, according to Kelner, bands were still banging on the Campbell Club’s proverbial door long after the raid. He describes one band that came by on their way to California a few weeks prior. “They asked if we could play a show here and we said we couldn’t get it together, but they still got together and played a show for the house,” he said.
Though the co-op’s reputation may be intact among musicians, it has suffered among those less familiar with its environs.
“It was interesting to see what people really thought of us,” said Cruz Castillo, a former Campbell Club resident. “KVAL did a story on us and we’d look at the comments. Some people really supported us, but other people … ”
Comments on the video run the spectrum from, “Our sad little country has turned into a police state,” to, “I’m glad all those people got arrested and I wish that more did.” Some say the KVAL video portrays the co-op in a negative light, splicing the anchors’ commentary with shots of empty bottles and Solo cups lying outside the building.
“I think we became more mythical,” Castillo said. “When people walk by this place they kind of stare at it. I think the raid helped create this mystery, because nobody really knows what happened.”
Resident Taylor Hulburt insists the celebrations will continue, though likely less often. The co-op has even hosted small parties after the raid — low-key affairs featuring acoustic acts. Residents didn’t even make a flyer for the first one. “It was nice that we were confident enough to throw another party and not be too shaken up by the police,” Castillo said.
But will there be more parties like the one police busted in February?
“I hope not,” Castillo said.