After nearly a year of putting on shows, we’ve noticed that there’s been a few conversations with friends asking, politely, what we think we’re doing – and we’re expecting a few more now we’re putting on a Queer Vegan pop punk band with what is basically an Oi! influenced hardcore punk band.
So, the pre-emptive short answer is: putting on some bands every couple of months so that there’s something for us to look forward to. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t other things to look forward to or that other things aren’t happening. But really, A Public Disservice Announcement collective is just two blokes putting on music they like just in case no one else does.
Only, it’s sort of not. Because there is no one way to book a show. This means that we have to make decisions that are shaped by larger ideas, decisions that are often informed by a broader vision of what DIY is. We have choices that we have to navigate whether we like it or not - and how we do that creates meaning.
One of these choices is how we build community. On its most basic level, we have to think about this because - although we’re putting in the leg work to make something happen which gives us a degree of ownership over the whole thing - we need people to attend to make our shows viable. At a very minimum, building community means we want people in the room so we can pay bands. We’re aware that there are complicated reasons why people don’t attend shows, but it also seems that part of the responsibility for that not happening is the promoters’. We’ve got many jobs to do but a lot of them involve making sure people turn up.
We think that this is setting bar pretty low in terms of community building, although we suck even at this. But still. We want people to turn out but we also want them to come back. We are aware that we’re following in the footsteps of a great many DIY hardcore punks in Southampton, both those remembered and beatified and those forgotten and scattered. One of the things that most of those scenes got right was that they brought likeminded people together semi-regularly. From this, other projects grew, including a slew of bands and zines, distros, labels and other collectives. We’d like to help contribute to providing and sustaining an environment where this happens and we try to make choices that support this goal.
Those shows were fairly musically diverse. Some of this diversity was pragmatic and those pragmatic choices remain relevant to us. We aren’t convinced that there’s enough of x scene in Southampton to sustain shows of x type of band. We worry that this logic leads to micro scenes of poor turn outs, frustration, financial loss and burn out. There is, then, a basic reason to bring together diverse line ups: bringing all these people in to a room together on the assumption that three different types of punk/hardcore band means three times the crowd.
But less pragmatically, between us we like lots of different sub-genres of hardcore and punk. If you draw a Venn diagram, there’s plenty of overlap, but also plenty of overspill. This means that we’re likely to put on a wide range of bands totally unapologetically (and for stuff we won’t touch, we’re really happy for someone else to put on in our absence (we might even show up)). We’ve also been around long enough that we’re sort of bored of seeing six bands that sound the same. We would rather see three different sounding bands and like only one - much more than we would being lulled by the same sound over and over.
We are also wary of compartmentalising. We don’t get punks that don’t like any hardcore and hardcore kids that don’t like punk. There’s differences obviously, but there’s plenty in common, including the DIY ethic and we’re trying to recreate that space where these commonalities can coexist, talk to one another and build something viable.
Finally, although those scenes were politically progressive, we’re now at a stage in punk and hardcore where for whatever reason, it seems like there are far more people playing in bands that, demographically, aren’t just straight white dudes like us. It seems to us that you have to look a bit harder to find these bands, but why wouldn’t we do that regularly? We’re looking backwards to learn from the ways things were done before but that doesn’t mean we aren’t looking at what’s going on around us and trying to create spaces where people can see their identities represented.
While we have always tried to make our line-ups diverse in these ways, we've of course fallen short quite a few times. Sometimes the practical aspects of putting on monthly shows, or not being able to do a show when a band with non-male, non-straight and non-white members is looking for one, leads to lineups that aren’t diverse in gender, sexuality or race and ethnicity. But we’re trying and we’re going to keep trying to make sure what we do more accurately represents the DIY community without resorting to the tokenism of putting on shit bands we don’t like. This is another choice (and one that leads to many further choices) and we’re stumbling through the implications of this rather than presenting a pre-emptive set of excuses.
All organising is basically guess work. It’s having a goal then a theory of how to achieve it. This theory may or may not be correct and even if it is, it’ll always need tweaking - not least because there are factors that are unaccounted for and beyond anyone’s control. Part of writing a blog like this is working through problems and coming up with theories that might be robust or might disappear into the ever growing pile of shit ideas and financial losses.
We’d struggle to define success but still - A Public Disservice Announcement collective has been mostly successful so far, whatever that means. But there’s also been bands that broke down on the M4 and never made it. We put on an amazing show that 5 people paid into and had to do the walk of shame to the cash point. This project might fizzle out next week. But it might go on for years until one of us drops down dead. We’d like to say that we’ll never let our egos define us or become territorial - but we’re both getting older and we’ve both got access to Twitter.
Basically though. Were two blokes putting on bands we like. We appreciate the support more than you know.