DIY…or Die? The breeding ground of sound is losing places to play
Known for our subterranean music scene, Seattle’s influential underground is a living entity that provides a space to be yourself and be heard. Currently, it's suffering.
By Ruby Tuesday Romero
Last month, a critical part of the Northwest punk scene shut its doors. The Kraken , an iconic U DIstrict bar is the latest to close in a disturbingly long list of foundational venues-gone-past. Several others have closed due to plans to redevelop and others were unable to pull through the pressures of the pandemic.
Further, houses venues that would pull crowds for bands like Tacocat, Rose Windows (who went on to sign with Sub Pop), and bands with members who went on to be in Grammy award winners Portugal. the Man, have been torn down as well.
It’s hard to measure the impact on music this will have, but it underlines the need for accessible venues. Attending a DIY show will leave your ears ringing from the heart poured into them…and yes, dive bars throwing together audio equipment and an employee dedicated enough to book bands on their own time IS a DIY show. The concept encourages individuals (or a group) to use skills, organize, and work around barriers set in place. Here, artists can escape mainstream expectations and encapsulate important systemic issues within band names or song titles and then screen print those ideas onto merch.
The Seattle Restored program invites artists and small businesses into vacant retail spaces to activate and revive our downtown corridor.
One such location is the former Bartell Drugs on 3rd & Union, now known as Nii Modo, the venue has already hosted galleries, live music, and is the present home for Seattle DIY stalwarts, the Punk Rock Flea Market which has been presented in the past in White Center.
Nii Modo has partnered with BIPOC and women owned projects and small businesses, hoping to lift the experiences of marginalized communities. One such project is a three day punk (and punk adjacent) music festival in mid-April called RX Fest.
Acts like Seattle's Elvis Batchild, Everett's Dead Streets, and Wenatchee's Cockaphonix are just three of 24 bands set to perform.
Prominently advertised through social media, the project is applying a modern component to DIY-crowdfunding! This project began with connections, an available location, and free time (whats that?)-but all this elbow grease still won't pay the bills.
According to Kickstarter themselves, 73% of all donations made to fully funded projects were generated through people browsing Kickstarter. Launched with just 31 days until the event, Rx Fest hopes this campaign will feed the volunteers and bands, pay security and audio engineers, incentivize cleanup, and continue to do so in the future.
The algorithm responds kindly to new projects that have high traffic within the first week. This means receiving donations, visits to the Kickstarter page, shares, follows, and engagement with the project. The most affordable reward tier puts your name on the 'Sponsor List' for cheaper than two drinks from Starbucks.
To check out more information regarding tickets to the events, line up, dates, and more- please visit the campaign page here:
Rx Fest Seattle
Check out these other DIY venues too!
The Vera Project (https://theveraproject.org/)
The Cherry (https://www.instagram.com/cherrypitcd/?igshid=NzNkNDdiOGI%3D)
Animal House (https://www.instagram.com/animalhouseseattle/?hl=en)