There are many reasons why the DIY music scene is lovely. I’m sure we’re all well aware of them; but just in case you needed reminding, here are some of the best ones.
One of the best things about the DIY scene is the affordability of DIY gigs. It’s almost collectivised in its nature; no promoter is looking to rip anyone off, or profiteer from gig-goers. It’s simply the idea that you pay a minimal amount that will go towards covering the costs of transport or venue hire or whatever it may be, but that profit is not the sole motivation. Promoting is not about making money – it’s about creating an affordable and self-sustaining event. Of course, by no means is it wrong for promoters to make money. Ideally they’ll make a tonne of money because everyone wants to go and see the bands. But the idea that any money promoters do make is used to subsidise any future gigs, or that they pay a little bit extra to the touring bands is one that should be commended.
2. Broadening the Boundaries
The DIY scene has broadened the boundaries of what constitutes a gig. From the artists to the gig venues, the mantra here seems to be that anything is possible. If someone had said to me when I was 13 and watching some terrible band at an O2 Academy that in a few years I’d be stood in a freezing ex fruit and veg warehouse, having a better time, I probably wouldn’t have believed them. Places like JT Soar in Nottingham prove that just about anything can be used as a music venue. Furthermore, DIY gigs tend to be a lot more open minded when it comes to art. You can expect a lot more spoken word and poetry, obscure performance art and original handcrafted packaging on your physical releases. Everything, right down to the posters, shimmers with creativity and ingenuity.
Another great thing about the scene is it’s tolerance for all different kinds of people. And although you could say that it doesn’t reflect a good cross-section of society as a whole (let’s face it, most of us are still straight, white and male) there is a definite attempt (be it conscious or not) to be more inviting to people of all backgrounds, all sexualities, all genders and all ages. A problem that a lot of people are faced with in particular, is finding venues that are suitable for all ages, as many venues serve alcohol and have licensing restrictions. The best promoters I’ve seen are the ones who go out of their way to find venues that can be attended by everyone. Nana DIY, for example, has held shows in galleries, cafes and even their own house. It seems like a massive challenge because these places don’t have sound systems and can make organising simple gigs a lot more complex, but in many ways it’s a political statement. Art should be accessible to all.
Further to this, there’s also intolerance for the “wrong” kinds of people. People who are homophobic, racist, sexist, misogynistic, and so on, are not appreciated. When faced with this kind of behaviour the scene can be very responsive. We’re all entitled to our opinions, but as a lefty through and through, I think most extreme right-wing views do not contribute to creating a community-like environment, and therefore should not be tolerated. Conversely, I think that within the scene there is a definite pressure to conform to the “correct” political way of thought. This is something I don’t necessarily agree with; because if you are hostile to people who don’t have the exact same views as your own then you may end up being the “phobic” and that doesn’t contribute to being part of a community at all.
All political views aside there really is no better way to make friends than to get involved in the scene somehow. Whether you’re on tour and spending every night on a different person’s floor, or you’re braving a gig on your own and don’t know anyone there, everybody is your friend. It might have something to do with the acceptance and open-mindedness within the scene or it might simply be that people are just nice. Either way, one thing I’ve learned from the DIY scene is that mates are great. Peace. Fist bump.