Friday, 15 November 2019

Column: Why We're Doing It Together

By now you've hopefully seen the event I'm helping to put on with my pals Paul from Be Sharp Promotions and Sarah from Shout Louder. The event is titled Do It Together Fest and is taking place at the New Cross Inn in South East London on January 24th and 25th 2020. Buy tickets here – it's going to be smashing.

The big theme for the festival is, of course. Doing It Together. For years, the punk rock scene all around the world has had strong DIY ethos but in recent years I've noticed a change. Things aren't so much about doing it yourself but instead collaborating and "doing it together." We want to celebrate this ethos, hence why we're coming together to attempt to put on one of the best weekends of the year. (It also happens to fall nicely between our birthdays.) In this column, I plan to talk about all the positives in "doing it together."

Pretty much ever since Paul and I became friends, he's told me I should start putting on shows. I've always said no, for two reasons. The first is that there really isn't an audience for the bands I'd like to put on in Bedford. Secondly, it looks like a lot of stress and hard work and my mental health just isn't up for that. However, when Paul and Sarah approached me about putting on a birthday gig I jumped at the opportunity. I'd been wanting to learn what goes into putting on a show properly for ages and this was a great chance to do so. Plus I was getting a chance to have input as to who plays the gig. (And it was a fantastic way to spend my birthday.) Putting on a show with other people, especially people who I know are experienced in doing it, would take away a lot of the stress from me – this was the biggest reason why I jump aboard DITFest.

A big bonus about doing something like this with other people is that you can bounce ideas off each other. Obviously Paul, Sarah and myself are very good friends and aren't afraid to share thoughts and ideas with each other. Being the least experienced of the trio but with a huge willingness to learn, I've had loads of questions about things and the best way to do things. Discussing the best way to do certain things and how we should do things has hopefully helped everything run smoothly.

Between the three of us, we had a lot of ideas for cool things we could include at DITFest to make it stand out from your typical gig. We started with a massive list of bands we'd like. Obviously, time restraints meant we couldn't have all the bands on the list so we worked together on narrowing the list down to fourteen. Fourteen bands seems like quite a lot to organise but with three of us doing it it really made things much easier and it wasn't long before the line up was sorted.

Dividing jobs between the three of us really has made it easier on us all. If one person has seemingly been taking on more than the other two, we've been able to step in and take jobs of each other's hands to stop them piling up and hopefully preventing any unnecessary stress. When it's been needed we've even been able to use other resources to help with jobs that aren't in our own particular skill sets. Thanks for your design help, Emma. I can only imagine how much harder it would be to put together this gig by yourself. I just can't see the fun in it and if it's not fun, what's actually the point?

Something I've really enjoyed about doing DITFest with Sarah and Paul is just having the opportunity to converse with my friends. Often, whilst working on DITFest, the chat has strayed away from what we're working on just moved onto random chat. That's been nice. They're my friends and I like talking to them. Sometimes we get bogged down with things that aren't important and we don't talk to our friends enough. I'm really looking forward to being able to celebrate the birthdays of two of my friends in January. Last year Sarah and Paul put on separate gigs so I could only celebrate with one of them. Them doing a gig together (with me) means that this year I can celebrate with both of them! Doing It Together is better.

I'm super proud of the line up we've put together for DITFest. It's pretty varied, reflecting all of our personal tastes. This means that we're getting some bands that might not be frequent at the New Cross Inn for Be Sharp shows or that there's not as many bands that you might associate with Shout Louder (or Lockjaw Records that Sarah helps to run). This variation will hopefully help the bands play to some different audiences than they may usually and probably gain them some more fans. This is a fantastic thing.

In summary, Doing It Yourself is great but Doing It Together is even better. Come celebrate with us on January 24th and 25th.

This column was written by Colin Clark.

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