Recently I read an article on Indymedia that was a review on a DIY bridge gig held in North Melbourne. I have decided to write this follow-up article looking at a few of the DIY gigs that have been happening around Melbourne at the moment. Especially in the punk scene lot of the DIY of movement has been growing somewhat stale compared to what it has been in previous days. In recent years we have seen such is life Festival DIY Festival focusing largely on hard-core music but as good as this is it largely falls into the category of a festival that people turn up to as punters separate from the organisers. Don't get me wrong such as life festival is a good festival that is independently run and aimed at the people turning up not profit. Other more hippie festivals such as Confest or Rainbow Serpent may still contain some of the independent DIY elements that were created to offer a platform for those attending it but have grown to a size where you have people who try and take control of the situation taking power away from the average person now and separating it into hierarchies of punters and organisers. So in the opinion of this writer's viewpoint is quite refreshing to see the rise of smaller independent DIY festivals and gigs again.
The DIY bridge gig held in North Melbourne that I made reference to before is a perfect example of what I'm referring to. The concept of using a space that doesn't exactly belong to any one and holds no functional purpose to create a free Semi-public event and in the larger picture, community, is a great one.
As well as music, groups such is the Melbourne Pirates Cinema have been using unused spaces to create their own DIY events and communities. Melbourne Pirates Cinema goes into abandon buildings and unused places and screens a mixture of short films and feature films. They use these these locations to enhance the atmosphere of the film that they are screening and provide a nights free entertainment.
A slightly different but very successful DIY festival that I attended recently was the Gembrook DIY Festival. This festival was held at a legal campsite out in the middle of the bush. The festival hosted three days worth of music, art instillation, stalls, information stands, workshops, games (chess boards & foosball tables), cinema, a home brew swap and community atmosphere. Entry to the festival was open to all and expenses were covered by donations. Those attending it ranged from small children to quite elderly adults. Although bands had been booked previously the stage was open to anyone who wanted to play, programs were written on whiteboards with markers for people to add any activities that they wanted to organise, and stalls had just popped up by those attending it (and I am pleased to say didn't see one fixed price on any item at a stall instead people were bartering, asking for donations and even giving items away for free).
On Saturday, 11 February I attended another DIY gig run in the same place under the bridge in North Melbourne. This time there was considerably more people attending than the first one I went to there. There was a sculptural instillation by an artist who calls herself Black Jack, bands (The Flying Rats, Scrayfish, The Murder balls, Bombs are falling and some members of Spewing Guts) and DJs.
It is plain to see as more and more live music venues in Melbourne closed down, laws get tighter and venues get harder to book gigs at that interest in these types of events will grow. It is great to see artist get on board and a fantastic opportunity for them to show their work without paying ridiculous gallery fees.
Although there was still a community atmosphere it wasn't the same as previous gigs such as the Gembrook DIY Festival or the previous bridge gig. Unfortunately as the gigs grow in the number of people attending it is hard to break down the barriers between those organising it and those attending it. As those running and attending these events we need to make sure that we don't loose the community and end up with another commercial event run by profiteers or power trippers.
But enough of focusing on the negative and back to the positive. It is great to see so many independent people coming together and working as one communal group to create the type of events that they want. It is inspiring to see people offer up their personal equipment to run these events. It is also amazing to see some of the fantastic equipment that people have made for these events – from home-made P.A.s, portable battery systems that can run a projector, even a home-made projectors, hand-painted banners, jerry rigged guitars, and hand drawn posters & flyers. These events are a major display of the ability, creativity and ambition that is amongst us. My hat goes off to all those involved. I'm sure there are more but thank you to: The Flying Rats, 2 shot werewolf, Dixon Cider, Claws & Organs, The Men They Call Jayne, Common Thread, Bombs Are Falling, Murder Balls, Scray Fish, Spewing Guts, Melbourne Pirate Cinema, Monky, Mike, Carl, Barricade Books, Black Jack, those attending it and everyone else who has been helping put these events on.
Keep the events coming and keep the community atmosphere! Make the most of the resources at your hands and be part of the events not just someone attending, weather it is making a movie to screen at a pirate cinema, having your band play at a gig, setting up an art instillation, writing a review or even initiating your own event. You have the power! Don't let anyone tell you other wise.