Is it cool for your neighbors to have band practice next door?

One of our readers seems to have a little problem with his musically inclined neighbors:

I live in a house on a purely residential block in the Mission. Like most of the homes in the neighborhood, we have a zero lot line with the neighbors (ie our exterior walls touch). My neighbor is in a band, and they regularly practice at the house on weeknights until after 11pm. Occasionally they will play past midnight. The sound travels quite clearly into my bedroom.

The music, incidentally, is pretty good. The problem is that I have a job that requires me to wake up before 6am. For me, this means I need to get to sleep around 10pm.

Over the course of 8-10 months, I have repeatedly reached out and asked them to music on the weekdays to 10pm. The response is generally friendly, but the next day I need to ask again, and again and again. They clearly don’t care at all.

I certainly realize that I live in a dynamic neighborhood, but it just doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect band practice to stop by 10pm on a weeknight in a purely residential neighborhood.

Am I out of line? If not, any suggestions on remedies. I would like to salvage the relationship, but am out of ideas.

My take on the situation?  This is bullshit.  These jerks need to get a practice space and play their music there.  That’s what bands do in a city where everyone lives in apartments.  If you don’t, you’re a selfish douchebag.

Note:  I am NOT referring to the amazing Dennis Richmond rooftop band that occasionally plays above the Attic.  Those guys are rad and have their own practice space at Secret Studios.

[Photo by Burrito Justice]

75 Responses to “Is it cool for your neighbors to have band practice next door?”

  1. niceneighbor says:

    after the next time they practice late, go and talk to them nicely when you get up for work at 6am. do this every time they practice late. or, call the cops.

    • Rhiannon says:

      My neighbors “work late” (I’m assuming this means that they bartend? But I bartend and don’t bring 5 people home with me at 4am to listen to loud bassy music and smoke out the Window on a quiet alley on a Thursday ) and the only way to get through to them was to go over there at 8, both of us dressed for work, and explain that we do this every morning, we can say hi on our way to work every day if they’d like.

      • GG says:

        This is maybe the best suggestion I’ve ever heard. Kudos to you for having the balls to actually do it!

        • niceneighbor says:

          Yes, I’ve done exactly this too. it does work. sometimes you do have to keep ringing the bell until they answer.

  2. GG says:

    Agreed. My “band” practices in one of the members’ garages in Noe Valley (single-family home), but we only do it about 2p-6p Saturday or Sunday, and only about once a month. These guys should show some courtesy and book a regular slot at Secret Studios on Caesar Chavez, or at one of many other rent-by-the-hour practice spaces.

  3. violajack says:

    I agree with the advice so far. My husband keeps just an electronic drum set at home. The full kit is at the rehearsal studio, along with the recording gear and amps. The band practices there. He uses Light Rail studios in Bayshore.

    We’ve had problems with our neighbors playing music way too loud (their sound system was hooked to PA speakers, not cool in a condo with shared walls) too late and we didn’t get much compliance until we started calling the police. 3 visits from the police = $1000 fine. Our HOA also fines them every time the music is too loud too late (as defined by HOA rules).

    The city noise ordinance prohibits loud music past 10PM, so you are well within your rights to ask them to stop at 10PM and to ask the police to help you enforce that if they don’t take you seriously.

    See section 2909d:

  4. dude says:

    When you decide to practice in your apartment, you are invariably testing the waters. Waters have been tested, and now you know what’s acceptable. You never know who your neighbors are going to be, sometimes you get lucky and you’re all on the same schedule, sometimes you’re not.

    Sack up and get a practice space like everybody else.

  5. cjonesplay says:

    Just for the record, the Dennis Richmond Band has their own practice space at Secret. Respect neighbors!

  6. Sean says:

    Gotta put a plug in for Lennon Rehearsal, where the people are great and where my band practices. It’s in SOMA, but the 12 Folsom takes you right there.

  7. thefrederale says:

    Quit your job. 6am is way too early.

  8. Ted says:

    6am? Bummer.

  9. MrEricSir says:

    This may be a moot point if there’s a band playing 6 feet away from your bed with only a thin sheet of plaster between you, but have you tried earplugs?

    • D. Jon Moutarde says:

      This may be a moot point if you’re trying to become a total dick, but have you tried reading the post you’re responding to?

      • MrEricSir says:

        This may be a moot point if you’re trolling, but did you read my comment before you hit “reply” and started babbling nonsense?

        • D. Jon Moutarde says:

          This may be a moot point if you’re an idiot, but have you ever tried living your life as a bitch to some jack-off asshole’s band practice next door, which is what wearing earplugs just to get to sleep in your own apartment during regular sleeping hours would imply?

          • MrEricSir says:

            Why don’t you take your bullshit attitude and GTFO? Nobody wants to read a bunch of pointlessly negative drivel from some half-assed troll.

          • D. Jon Moutarde says:

            Actually, Eric, that’s exactly what I’m getting from you, in your replies to my comments: pointlessly negative drivel. I have a few ideas about why that might be so, but it would be nice if you would think about your motivations and talk with me about them.

          • GG says:

            Pretty sure that when you are posting an inappropriately reactive comment about the suggestion that someone wear earplugs (which is a pretty normal thing to do, I actually have no idea how people get a good night’s sleep in this city WITHOUT wearing earplugs), that the onus is on you, DJM, to explain WTF the attitude is coming from.

          • D. Jon Moutarde says:

            Wasn’t talking to you, dummy. Oh, excuse me… GG

            But I’ve never worn earplugs in San Francisco. Don’t know what insanely noisy city you think we’re living in.

            And if you think my comment to Eric was “inappropriately reactive”, then you surely would not like what my first first impulse was about responding to YOU.

          • Eric can be an ass says:

            Dijon, Eric can be an ass sometimes. He posts so much here, there, Boing Boing, everywhere that he’s bound to get into an unfiltered “ooh did I say that out loud mode.” What would great if Eric went away for a couple of months or just got his own fucking blog to blather on and on on.

          • Ariel Dovas says:

            Can you guys please go back to starting every comment with the “This may be a moot point” thing? Thanks, continue.

          • thank says:

            hot troll-on-troll-on-troll action.

          • MrMustardSir? says:

            same useless twat, both of you. perfectly fucking obvious. timewaster eh?

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Earplugs are a totally reasonable suggestion, I dunno why djm is shitting a cow about it.

  10. EverythingSucks says:

    The guys in the band are retarded. I have lived in a variety of cities and played in bands in everyone, the fact you they have neighbors (the guy writing the letter) that don’t call the cops the FIRST TIME you practice is a privilege. I love how these jerks are just rocking and rolling so hard they can’t stop at 10pm. Entitled assholes. Frankly, neighbor guy has been too nice. I would have pulled some dirty shit or gotten the cops involved (absolute last resort) after month two, not 10. At this point give them one last ultimatum, then get real on their asses.

    • DomPara says:

      “…these jerks are just rocking and rolling so hard they can’t stop at 10pm.”

      This sounds like it was lifted from a late 50s film about cool cats and the squares trying to keep them from playing their kid music. Thumbs up.

    • Jaurito says:

      As a former roommate of the jugtown pirates I can attest to this. They really saw the entire building as their personal playground and anyone who they affected were just whiney assholes. They had an affect on 5 other apartments full of people. Fuck this band, fuck entitled asshole hippies.

  11. Geno says:

    You’re being way to nice about this, they could obviously could care less about you or anyone else around them. I’d throw the breaker switches on their unit and call the cops.

  12. KC says:

    What you describe is way out of line.

    My son’s band(s) practices in our garage. Our neighbors have been (with one exception) incredibly supportive and tolerant. But we have reached out and consulted with as many neighbors as possible and we have negotiated a 8pm curfew and agreed to limit the volume. And they don’t practice that often. Even so, we are close to (or maybe past) the point where they need a practice space.

    Nice that you’re keeping it friendly and 1:1, direct. Calling the cops is not constructive, but it might come to that if the friendly requests fall on totaly deaf ears.

  13. tk says:

    I’m really happy to see that no one (so far) has rolled out the “It’s a city, if you don’t like it move to Walnut Creek” canard.

  14. marcos says:

    The law says that after 10PM you can’t make noise above a certain decibel level that disturbs your neighbors.

  15. C says:

    At my east oakland non-sf pad, the neighbors have fat loud live band banda/mariachi/other genre partys that go no later than 10…universal across sub cultures.

  16. goof says:

    My neighbor plays the drums to cranked up recorded music (Santana, Megadeth, Hendrix, hits from the 50s ). The cops have not been all that helpful but definitely call them. Keep records of when you call, what officers you spoke with etc… You may have to invite them into your bedroom to confirm what you are hearing! It also helps to get other neighbors on the same page. If multiple people complain they are more likely to comply.

  17. SFitall says:

    Sure that this neighbor is not the only one being impacted by them playing after 10PM. They’re lucky that they’ve been able to practice in their place at all. Put on Metal Machine Music or ABBA loud on repeat while they’re sleeping off their late night practice.
    Side note: not exactly Captain Buzzkill over hear have done underground and venue shows for years while always aware that if you don’t keep cool with your neighbors you’re not going to be able keep the music going. This person sounds like they’ve tried to be cool, but if their reasonable request is falling on deaf ears…

  18. scum says:

    I had a problem with the Hispanic neighbors next door, I would go over and would always sayno english, then laugh and slam the door. Then calls to the PD 553-0123 number had limited effect. After going to the station I was told to keep a log and any recording I could get. Then they said go to City Hall and get a record of who owns the property ($5) and contact the Owner. I did and told him that not only could The City charge him for every time the officers responded but if the problem continued I could take him to small claims court. The owner was very nice and the problem was solved.

  19. danfinger says:

    It wasn’t a band practice but this girl was right next door to me and would YELL/SHREAK on the phone until about 5am every night. She had one of those shrill voices that even the most serious earplugs could not eclipse. I was nice and politely asked if she could keep it down. Repeatedly. “Sure, no problem”.

    It didn’t stop. So … this 7 step process worked magic.

    1. Cut hole in wall right up to the studs
    2. Buy 14″ cone driver for $25 off CL (cheaper the better)
    3. Hook said speaker up to your amp and screw it to the wall (business end pointing at the offending party)

    The effective part …

    4. Get the track “Frankie Teardrop” by the band Suicide
    5. Volume: 11
    6. Set to ‘repeat track’
    7. Go to work.

    After she asked that I not do that anymore I gave her the same sweet response she gave me “Sure, no problem”. And did it every day for a week.

    or alternately

  20. lycaass says:

    If you can’t afford a practice space as a band, you suck. The world doesn’t need anymore shitty bands. Evict ‘em.

  21. bribe says:

    My neighbors used to play loud music hella late, despite frequent requests to turn it down. Then it mysteriously stopped. I found out a few weeks later that a neighbor on the other side of their house bribed a cop to threaten them. When the old lady who bribed the cop told me the story, she was laughing her ass off. Also, this was in Oakland.

  22. Elizabeth says:

    This is not cool, no. Contact the landlord repeatedly.I did this with problem neighbors. It worked. I also like the idea of showing up early and waking them up.

  23. Anne Marie says:

    I think Secret Studio’s should change there name. Awesome studio btw…lovely little cafe & all.

  24. Nate says:

    I dunno. If this guy is getting up at 6am to work at a coffee shop or something, then I respect what he is saying. If he is getting up to get on the google bus or some shit then let the band play on.

    • scum says:

      My fiance gets up at 6am for her union electrician job, do you have a problem with that?

    • meow says:


    • His Sister Pam says:

      Can you kindly submit a list of jobs that you decree as OK? Because I’m sure that the entire MM audience is on the very edge of their seats in anticipation of your approval or denial of their means of existence.

      Someone earlier noted happily that no one had yet posted a predictable “move to Walnut Creek” screed. Well, here we go!

      • D. Jon Moutarde says:

        The “move to Walnut Creek” line was crossed days ago, with the “wear earplugs” comment; they amount to the same thing: ‘if my behavior makes you uncomfortable, that’s YOUR problem’.

  25. Sheabones says:

    Ugh….This is what happens when you raise your kids with a “You Can Do Anything” belief system.

  26. Jayde says:

    Hey music happins. I play bass and have been since I was 13 year old. Yeah peoples complain I just say fuck them cause its my music. I recentely got a duplex to rent and the skinny dork next door to me complains I been making his windows viberate and scareing his little pussy kids with my bass. He trys to empress me that hes a doctor and is on a exacting scheduel and blah blah… I dont give a jack shit. I tell the doc that Im a musician and I need to make money to. Hes been calling the cops on me and files a reports on me and shit after I told him to but the fuck out of my life and he better mind his business or else. I just got a good used ampeg 15×2 from a friend I got aimed at my asshole neighbers livingroom wall. Come dinner time my ampeg will be at 10 on the volume and plug in my bass! Yeow I bet Ill hear his dishes come crahing to the floor and his pussy kids scream and cry like they always do when I crank up my bass. Ha ha Ill win this victory!

    ps Im no kid and I do what i feel is my rights since I pay taxes and rent!!! Like my music feel my music or just shut the fuck up or live somewheres else.

    • Herr Doktor Professor Deth Vegetable says:

      Have fun finding a new place to live after you get evicted, dude.

  27. Silence is Bliss says:


    It’s people like you who cause so much disconection and fervor in society.

    Are you really that much of a monster that you’d willfully cause harm to an innocent child and his parents? I sure hope you have no children! I’m saddened that this world is occupied with indivduals who are so selfish and self-centered. To be so preoccupied with yourself thinking nobody else matters.

    I have news for you, sir: you are not only threatning innocent people, you are creating environmental issues as well, known as noise pollution. It’s illegal what you are doing and if your poor neighbor hasn’t already filed suit against you, you have it coming to you.

    Examining your deplorable misuse of grammar and spelling, this is proof positive of what type of an individual you are.

    How about tossing your silly bass guitar in the trash and do something productive for humankind. Perhaps going back to school to learn some basics would be a start, then you might be able to learn some social skills as well.

    As they say you’re never too old to learn.

  28. Randy says:

    There’s a home three doors down from me that was a former rental. The last tennants who occupied the home were two late 20 early 30 something males. They were also in a grunge band.

    Mind you this was in the 1990′s when that grunge phase was at its peak.

    Our peaceful little street lined in 1930′s era homes became a community mired in the worst, most toxic sounds pouring out of that rental home. I mean those two guys would have jam sessions four to five days a week lasting well into the night. Everyone else on my street was at their wits end losing their sanity over the hideous band practice.

    After numerous police visits and formal complaints filed by numerous neighbors (including me), the grungy guys ended up “closing up shop” and relocating. Hopefully they dug a deep hole and sealed themselves in with the rest of the creepy crawlers.


    I ( and other neighbors) tried to speak to the noise offenders and explain to them that their band practice was too loud, and if they could find somewhere else to practice, etc.

    All they would say to me was that they pay rent and have their right to practice. End of sentence.

    Being 100% unreasonable as they were I had to resort to calling the police time after time.

    I felt like celebrating when those grunge morons moved out!

    Now the former rental property is a purchased rebuilt home with a nice educated couple with one child who are quiet, courteous and respectable members of society who live there now.