DIY or...
December 7, 2007 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Inspire me, punk-rock style.

I've been kicking around ways that I could more directly apply my talents and energy to my adopted hometown's pleasantly/frustratingly insular indie-punk scene. For example, I'm inspired by the history of Dischord Records, a label that started mostly to document the scene in Washington, DC at that time, but grew to be an important force in popular music, all the while maintaining their punk/DIY ethics. Or, like, I'm greatly impressed with The Smell, a decidedly positive performance and art space that has become a lynchpin of LA's latest punk wave.

So then: I'm looking for other examples of grassroots, locally-focused artists/labels/spaces/organizations that have managed to make truly rad stuff happen without straying too far from their DIY principles. I should emphasize that I'm not necessarily asking about stuff directly linked to punk music, but rather stuff that has roots in that culture and mindset.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I should also add that I've already seen the movie DIY or Die. I figured that would come up kind of quickly.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 10:15 AM on December 7, 2007

I just bought the graphic novel War In The Neighborhood, by Seth Tobocman, which tells the complex story of Lower East Side squatter wars in the late 80s and early 90s (which laid the groundwork for much local activism since). Hard to find, but a worthwhile read.
posted by entropone at 10:27 AM on December 7, 2007

924 Gilman Street (Berkeley/SF/Bay Area)
posted by box at 10:29 AM on December 7, 2007

Just one small example: I've spent a little time at ABC No Rio in NYC. The place was started by people squatting in an abandoned building on the Lower East Side. Over the years it's been a gathering place for many different kinds of local artists. Now they have a performance space, a darkroom and a print shop, all staffed by volunteers, that can be used by anyone at a nominal cost. I don't know the whole history of the place, but they've been battling for years to have their ownership legitimized and have been working on renovating the building.

I just recently found out about it and can't speak to how it may be fostering broader community change, but it is a cool little place.
posted by otolith at 10:33 AM on December 7, 2007

Mattress Factory and Brew House Association (Pittsburgh, and it's probably arguable just how punk/DIY they are)
posted by box at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2007

Arkansas Sustainability Network and Arkansas Community Arts Cooperative (Little Rock, and ditto)
posted by box at 10:38 AM on December 7, 2007

Formed by members of Godspeed You Black Emperor! and other Montreal artists of note, Constellation records have always been true to their roots.

A friend of mine started a label here in Chicago called Numero that I feel is a very important leap forward for reissue labels. He exhaustively researches every label catalog he acquires and he always, when possible, negotiates very fair terms for the artists, many of whom never saw profits from their work.

I know of many spaces that keep alive the ideals that you speak of. More legitimate venues, like the Empty Bottle here in Chicago, do so by always booking interesting artists and taking chances. Other places are more fly-by-night, enjoy it before it's shut down type of operations.

I personally think that the DIY/Punk ideal is quite pervasive when you really look around you. Even that cozy little bakery down the street owned by that really sweet couple is a lesson in punk ethics. Punk is independence and bootstrapping - not making excuses, just making things happen. Look around your town, I'm sure you'll see it all over the place.
posted by ISeemToBeAVerb at 10:38 AM on December 7, 2007

The Stone (NYC)

On preview: well said, ISTBAV. And I hope you'll tell your Numero pal that he's putting out some great records. The Capsoul and Big Mack, the kiddie soul, the gospel funk collection--da-a-amn.
posted by box at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2007

The Che Cafe in San Diego has been going for ... 27 years now. Collectively run, DIY, punk, and vegan. Whee.
posted by beerbajay at 10:43 AM on December 7, 2007

The roller derby and IndyMedia movements both embody some of the ethics and ideas you mention.
posted by mynameisluka at 10:46 AM on December 7, 2007

Ft. Thunder in Providence and Tonic in NYC. Both R.I.P. Speak in Tonigues in Cleveland. Not sure if that's still around.
posted by apetpsychic at 11:54 AM on December 7, 2007

Theres an incredible number of art and music collectives around nowadays that are pretty DIY, I think its become pretty subjective where someone stops being DIY and becomes some sort of indie sellout or whatever, i guess it depends on your level of punk-snobbery. I'm sure there's some DIY types that say the second you get a myspace page you've permanently attached yourself to the teet of capitalism.

As for me, I like Anticon, plan it x, etc etc

I think we'll be hard pressed to find another Dischord, things seem so much more wide open now, where in the early 90s there was such a such a large gap between the DIY crowd and the majors.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 12:13 PM on December 7, 2007

also, The Rhizome Collective in Austin, Texas, and the Albany Free School.
posted by entropone at 12:28 PM on December 7, 2007

Maybe talk to Todd P.
posted by unknowncommand at 2:17 PM on December 7, 2007

piggybacking on this a little: are there any collectives that are DIY but not necessarily punk in origin? I'm very intrigued with the DIY scene in terms of media and getting people together and all, but don't necessarily like the music.

To answer your question: I once stayed with a lady who heads the SOMA artist collective in Aarhus, Denmark. I can't seem to find a website for it, but they're still DIY in nature - they organize Food Not Bombs, they had an artist space where you could make stuff for free, they hold gigs. I think they come from a more activist/alternate-spiritual base rather than a punk base (my host loved reggae music) but otherwise it quite fits your requirement.
posted by divabat at 10:17 PM on December 7, 2007

Ah! Found them - Klub Soma
posted by divabat at 10:20 PM on December 7, 2007

Oh! Non-explicitly-punk things that are DIY in Bristol, England:
The Cube Microplex cinema and venue.
'Here' Shop and Gallery, which sells art and handmade things
posted by beerbajay at 2:05 AM on December 8, 2007

I'm surprised that De Soto Records haven't been mentioned, they are a similar label to Dischord but run by Kim Coletta of Jawbox. A fantastic little label.

In the UK there is a little zine called Last Hours that not only put out their zine but also put on shows, squat venues, have zine symposiums annually and lots of other lovely DIY things.
posted by stackhaus23 at 6:45 PM on March 23, 2008

« Older I won't let you fall apart   |   Something to carry my stuff in Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.