DIY shows offer alternate venues for underground music

Erik Petrovich

Local band Gleemer practices together. The band uses DIY Shows Facebook page to find venues in Fort Collins. (Photo Courtesy: Gleemer Facebook page)
Local band Gleemer practices together. The band uses DIY Shows Facebook page to find venues in Fort Collins. (Photo Courtesy: Gleemer Facebook page)

Corey Coffman, guitarist and singer for local punk band Gleemer, said about half of the shows he and his bandmates play are in friends’ houses, basements and other small, alternative venues. Bigger venues, he said, are much more difficult to book, while house shows and DIY shows seem to just come out of nowhere. Thanks to the community of musicians in the DIY scene all across Colorado, Gleemer and other smaller bands can travel across the state on tour much more conveniently.

A DIY show is different from one at an established venue because there are less people, the music is a lot louder and audience members will almost definitely be able to talk to the band after. Most of the proceeds from the show, if any were made, go toward the band and their music and not to the host. DIY shows have been around since the birth of music, but only recently has there been a surge in the DIY movement in Fort Collins. Part of this surge of awareness is thanks to a Facebook page.

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The DIY Shows Fort Collins Facebook page was created in 2011 in an effort to create a place where the underground music community can find others to host shows with. On the page, a band can organize with other bands, hosts can advertise performance space and users can keep track of DIY events being promoted on the page. The page does have a few rules, one of the biggest being no big-name venues can advertise there. According to the page’s description, it is only meant for lesser-known bands to find a place to play their music.

“If you’re a smaller band that is starting out, you would rather get all the money you can and go to a show set up by your friends than go to a venue and potentially get ripped off, underpaid or shoved aside,” said Garret Carr, founder of the DIY shows’ Facebook page.

Carr, a member of Chicago band Elway, created the page as a place for the DIY community to come together to promote local bands.

“The page has tied everything together,” Carr said. “The baseline of DIY is an equal playing field for everyone. Anyone who wanted to set up a show or throw a show was able to do that without going through a single person or a few people.”

Amos Helvey, a current admin for the page, said his band Old Sport was created after he saw a post in the group about starting a band. Helvey has been an admin for the page since 2013.

“The DIY Facebook page was a really good tool to find other bands,” Helvey said. “It’s really surprising the power of Facebook for doing this kind of stuff. To me, it seems like there’s nothing less punk than using Facebook a lot.”

He said the success of the DIY scene in Fort Collins is due more to touring bands than local ones. Roughly 90 percent of shows organized through the page are for bands coming through the city, according to Helvey.

“The purpose of the show is that there is a touring band who needs to stop and play here, and I get two or three local bands to play the show with them,” Helvey said on organizing a DIY show. “It gives the local bands a platform, as well as the touring bands.”

Phillip Shellaburger, a member of local dance-punk band The Great Aerodrome, has almost exclusively played house shows with his bandmates. The Great Aerodrome celebrated the release of their third album at the band’s house late July, and has been a major part of the DIY scene since their band began.

“A lot of the houses that put on DIY shows have closed down, for noise complaints or roommate issues,” Shellaburger said on the atmosphere of a DIY show. “But right now, it seems that the DIY scene is on an upward climb.”

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According to Coffman, the DIY community is always looking for more members.

“The term DIY ‘scene’ is the end goal, to build a close knit community,” Coffman said. “Getting people to come to your shows is what matters most.”

Collegian Reporter Erik Petrovich can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @EAPetrovich.