From the upstairs of bustling pubs, to record store floor venues, to boats, to the packed out basement, there’s nothing quite like the community spark of attending a DIY show. In recent years, however, we’ve seen a fair few small venues in major cities being shut down due to lack of funds, rising debts, and the most common reason, noise complaints. Objectively speaking, if you move right next to a music venue and get it closed down because you can’t handle its primary function, you’re a twat. You wouldn’t make the same complaint if say you moved next to an airport or a train station would you?
“if you move right next to a music venue and get it closed down because you can’t handle its primary function, you’re a twat.”
Regardless, this is an epidemic that sadly doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. The Fighting Cocks in Kingston Upon Thames, for example, is under constant threat due to the council allowing greedy estate agents to plan ‘development opportunities’ at their residence. A similar scheme nearly occurred at The Owl Sanctuary in Norwich, which thankfully due to a massively successful crowdfunding campaign, managed to be overturned and the venue has kept its doors open. Others such as The Peel (Kingston) and The Cockpit (Leeds) have been less fortunate, with the first site now being a coronership opposite a big group of flats, that once held likes of Title Fight and The Front Bottoms playing to buzzing audiences.
So why should we care? Well, for one thing, DIY venues aren’t strictly hosts for music, they can also be exhibition spaces, poetry corners, comedy stand up spots and late night rave locations. They bring that extra bit of culture and fun to our tired and dreary options of going to the cinema, Wetherspoons or god forbid a Prysm. DIY Space in For London, for example, has proven time and time again to be a crucial for marginalized artists and audiences to have a meaningful platform that big venues will never be able to replicate.
Without DIY venues, new artists don’t even get a chance to show off their material to the world and are forced to rely on the halfhearted clicks from strangers online to receive even a morsel of recognition. This is also an important aspect for international touring bands that need somewhere to go for the first times but aren’t big enough for say an O2 Academy Venue.
Finally, they give the chance for bigger artists to play far more intimate/stripped down shows for their fans outside of selling out arenas or playing mainstage at Reading & Leeds. They’re such an important stepping stone for live music itself and without them it means there will be far less diversity for artists in your area.
So please, attend your mate’s gig in that 40 capacity dive bar, pledge towards venue campaigns, spread the word and keep the spirit of DIY alive. After all, we do…
WORDS: ASHWIN BHANDRI