Allston DIY Fest is a collective affair

Artistic freedoms
By LIZ PELLY  |  July 25, 2011

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GROUP EFFORT The do-it-yourself mentality of Allston DIY Fest incorporates a collective vision, one that features more than 20 bands playing outdoors July 23, including Doomstar! 

Three weeks ago at a collectively-run home and occasional-DIY show space in lower Allston, a group of teens and twentysomethings sat on the grass in a semi-circle around a piece of oak tag scribbled with an aerial view of Ringer Park, the site of this weekend's Allston DIY Fest.

>> PHOTOSAllston DIY Fest at Ringer Park by Ty Ueda <<

The festival — run by a non-hierarchal assembly of folks celebrating grassroots sharing of free music, art, ideas, and skills — goes down at various spots all over Allston. Its main event is an all-day outdoor live show at Ringer, with more than 20 Boston-area bands signed up. It's a snapshot of Allston's DIY music scene, showcased for one afternoon in a more visible location than the gritty basements where underground shows typically take place.

On the piece of oak tag was the layout of two stages: an electric stage (hosting sets by Doomstar!, Fat History Month, the Chris North Dream Quartet, Arvid Noe, the Many People Band, and five others) and across the park, an acoustic stage (for the Hogstompers, Mornin' Old Sport, and at least 10 more). All who attended the meetings, even the newcomers, were immediately welcomed and given an equal voice in the preparations, from organizing book swaps to hosting film screenings.

"There's no need to confirm with us," said Allston resident Clay Adamczyk, a member of the group that has collectively organized the fest. "You don't need to be pre-approved. As long as you are free of any corporate relations, you can do your own thing."

"Even on the day of the festival, if you hadn't heard of the festival until July 22, you can come bring your art, build an art installation in the park, you can come make something," adds Allstonian Chris Longenecker, who helped organize and secure the permits for the festival, which he says aims to create a "safe, public place for folks to feel open about sharing their art, music, ideas, and skills" but strictly "does not involve any exchange of money."

Such anti-commercial, anti-capitalist ideology is a guiding principle in the DIY underground that has existed in music scenes internationally for decades. DIY promotes free expression while embracing independence from commercial systems. In Europe, DIY activity (including shows) often occurs in government-owned social centers. In New York, a DIY music scene is thriving in converted warehouses and industrial spaces. In Boston, it lives in houses.

"The idea is to bring out the feeling that people feel in a lot of these homes," explains Longenecker two weeks later, sitting on a couch in his red bedroom on a rainy Wednesday, "where people feel safe and secure expressing themselves in a variety of ways, and bringing that to a public forum so people can feel the same way there, and folks that aren't exposed to that already can connect with it."

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