DIY Music: Not that weird

January 19, 2012 § 11 Comments

Below is a letter I wrote to the editor of the SB Independent in response to the following article: Light Years, Pentimento, and Souvenirs at the Biko Co-Op Garage.

 

Dear Editor,

I just read Levi Michaels’ article about the Souvenirs/Chrissy Summer show and something about the math doesn’t add up. There are five bands mentioned in the headline, and yet Michaels lists only four bands by name. What happened to the other band in the headline — Quick Attack?

Oh yeah, I play guitar in that band. The singer in our band also set up that show, not some “amorphous task force”. I’m glad the author came to our show — we put a lot of work into setting it up — although I’m a bit disappointed he didn’t see it fit to watch our set. On the other hand, I am very frustrated with his portrayal of DIY music and our scene in general. Everyone I know who is involved in booking DIY music at the Biko house and elsewhere in Santa Barbara — at least 3 or 4 shows every single week — is approachable and friendly, and rarely are we “grimy”. All we really have in common is that we love playing music and setting up shows, and we’d rather not make any money doing it. Rather than filling column inches trying to mystify DIY music and giving another shout out to his friends in Souvenirs, I wish Michaels had done some work himself to find out who set the show up, and perhaps even watched all the bands who played. After all, DIY does stand for “Do It Yourself”.

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§ 11 Responses to DIY Music: Not that weird

  • Hey man was at the show too. Yeah, gotta admit, the author seemed to be showing more than a little favoritism to those bands.

    • flightsongs says:

      Chrissy — mea culpa: I didn’t actually watch your set, and I’m sorry I didn’t. I had a long drive home to Lompoc ahead of me after a long day of work. Please let me know if you come back.

      • Totally cool and also down. I was stoked to play at Biko, I was just there the monday before to see wild moth and summer vacation. When I used to live here (birth-19) there was no place to play in town, especially for young bands, aside from the Alano. I’m glad there’s something in SB again, has been for a few years now, and dumb scene stuff shouldn’t take away from it.

        -Word Zack, word. I too find this somewhat humorous. Everyone involved in this discussion are awesome people and should be friends!

        (BTW Me and my buddy were listening to Quick Attack while we were recording yesterday, love you and what you do Steve.)

  • tim riley says:

    I’ve been booking “diy” shows since 2008, how have i never met you until you asked to borrow all of my equipment?

    • flightsongs says:

      Tim: I’d never heard of you or your band either until Indiana told me about the show, so — what’s your point? I know we have friends in common. Obviously, we just travel in different circles, and we do DIY differently. Sometimes I wish our sides of the scene crossed over a little better. Then shows like last week’s happen, and I remember why they don’t.

      Let’s be clear here: You came to us for a show. You asked to play at Biko. Indiana tried to get the show to start at 6:30, so there would be enough time for all the bands to play, and she was just ignored and blown off. As a direct result, we got squeezed into a couple minutes at the end, rushed our setup, rushed our set, and we sounded like shit in front of like 4 people. So Indiana put all this work into setting up this show, all so you can get a nice little writeup in the Independent? And now you want to chase me and my friends around the internet and try to play the “who’s more punk” game? Fuck off, dude.

      My beef was with the Independent article. I wrote my letter to the editor, and if you’ll notice, the very real reasons I had to be pissed off with you didn’t make their way into it. So let’s just leave it there. The rest is just scene drama.

  • levi says:

    Hello,

    This is a fair argument against the article, and these things did cross my mind while I was writing it. True, “grime over glamour” may be a slightly negative description (though I never explicitly called anyone grimy), and true, I did give preference to the bands I am more familiar with.

    However, understand that I was assigned 300 words for the entire piece, which is an extremely limited amount of space to say anything about one band, let alone five, in proper context. Instead of fitting in some vague and meaningless description of everyone, I decided to focus on whom I know the most about and therefore whom I can speak about most intelligently.

    Unfortunately, it seems that Quick Attack got the short end of this stick, and it sounds like you/they may have put in the bulk of the organizational effort, but I ended up missing that set as I was off buying beer or something, and I can hardly write about what I didn’t see in the first place. I agree that the vibe at the show was a little stand-offish, which is unfortunate, but I’m sure you know more than anyone that you can hardly expect everyone to stick around and watch you at shows like that. Besides, there were two other bands who I also failed to mention that are on tour, playing DIY shows like that every night and losing money because of it.

    Your frustration is fair, but I think it would be much more productive if you came to me and said “hey, this is what we do, let me help you learn more about us,” instead of throwing around accusations that I know nothing about this sort of thing and I’m just trying to help out my buddies, everyone else be damned. I would love to learn more about what you guys do out there, and hopefully next time that that is how it’ll go down.

    Levi

    • flightsongs says:

      Levi: I accept your apology, but I want to be clear — I’m not even asking for a writeup. Of your 300 words, all I ask for is 2: my band’s name, somewhere in your article.

      I’d love it if you came to one of our shows some time, but hopefully it’s not because you feel like you owe us one. I’d rather you come to one of our shows because you like music and you like local music, and we play shows around here somewhat often. Write about us, or don’t. We have lots of fun playing music, and hopefully you’ll have fun as part of the audience.

      My real issue with your article was more about how you portrayed the DIY scene. I felt like I was reading a (rather tired) story about a bunch of dirty punk kids in a shitty garage who have “crazy ideals” about democracy and DIY. Maybe that’s what we look like from the outside but, and I ask this earnestly, why approach this from the outside? You were at the show, and you’re a journalist. Rather than guessing, or casting your own judgments and ideas onto what a DIY show looks like or who puts it together, why don’t you ask some questions? Do an interview?

      It is not my job to FIND you and tell you how I think the culture of the DIY scene works. Mostly because, how am I supposed to know who you are or what you look like? It quite literally IS your job to write articles about shows like this one. Why not put a little bit more work into it and end up with an article that doesn’t end up with all this damn drama?

  • Zack says:

    This is funny because I know all of you. Hi everybody, Levi is a pretty cool guy and so is Steve. I probably would have been cool with Levi’s article if Quick Attack hadn’t been totally left out – Levi should write something nice for their next show :) -Zack

  • Indiana says:

    I’d really rather not get any sympathy pieces. That’s my input or whatever and now I think I’m quitting the internet; this just seems to be a prevalent response and I want to make clear that I don’t think Levi is responsible for making anything up to Quick Attack as a band in that way. Wanting to get my name into the Independent was never part of the reason I started this shit, which I guess is what I did.

  • Nathan says:

    How has it not been mentioned the amount of people trying to smoke weed in the garage? Or the fact that the person who wrote this article just said he was out buying beer and (presumably, I don’t know) bringing it back to what is supposed to be a sober space. Not calling him out everyone was doing it. But this is just another example of why some people felt invaded and disrespected. I mean, all of this stuff about respect and rules is written on the door of the garage. No one ever follows the sober rules 100% but I think what my point is is that you have these people who rolled up started when they wanted, ignored anyone who wasn’t in their close group of friends who tried to get things rolling, played their sets left the people who made this all happen for them with 10 minutes, then after all that happens they get a write up about how great their ethos “values community above all”? Oh, and after that we try to make it about Quick Attack not being written up? How can you not expect people to be a little frustrated with how this all works?

  • flightsongs says:

    Chrissy,

    Super down for friends! I was fortunate enough to have grown up in SB while the Living Room was still around, and then left town for school right after it died. That place was such a positive force in my life — I wish it wasn’t so hard to have spaces like that.

    Thank you so much for the kind words. It makes me so happy to hear that anyone enjoys our music, ever. I am dling your stuff from your bandcamp right now and I’m excited to be listening to you tomorrow!

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