A crowd of people huddled around the Biko Garage on Friday Nov. 3, waiting for the show to begin. Four bands performed, with styles ranging from hardcore to punk.
All of these bands have one thing in common—they’re all young, independent artists, looking for venues to share their music. Bird and a Bush, an independent record label, set up the show as a DIY (do it yourself), all-ages event to give young people a chance to share and experience music.
DIY music is created by unsigned artists, who are often just beginning to perform and share their songs. FUNZONE, previously Santa Barbara’s only DIY music venue, closed down in October; since then, Bird and a Bush has been partnering with local venues like Biko to fill the void.
“After FUNZONE closed down, there wasn’t a designated DIY music venue in Santa Barbara. But there’s a lot of people in Santa Barbara that really care about DIY music,” said Jack Bogart, an organizer for Bird and a Bush, in an interview with The Bottom Line.
“We’re still getting this off the ground,” Bogart said. “We actually had to change the location of the first show we put on, but there was still great turnout.”
The show on Friday featured Little B!tch, who also performed at FUNZONE’s final show, in addition to Dead End Cemetery, Genocide Jack, and Crash 45. To put on Friday’s show, Bird and a Bush partnered with Biko Garage, an extension of Biko Co-Operative House.
“DIY music has always been very important to me,” Bogart said. “I think it’s very important for people to have a place where they can make their own music and be themselves. Places like this, they’re open to everyone.”
This sentiment harmonizes with Biko’s mission, an all ages, substance-free community space that empowers people of color, youth, and other marginalized communities.
“Age restrictions often get in the way of youth attending concerts or performing music. DIY music is all about opening up that opportunity for everyone,” Bogart said.
The inside of the Biko Garage is plastered with writing, graffiti, and art, with some of the doodles often replying to doodles that came before them. People in band t-shirts chatted and enjoyed the space as Little B!tch prepared to play the first set of the evening.
Little B!tch, a goofy punk band based in Santa Barbara, started the night off right with an engaging, joke-filled performance. Their humorous lyrical style served as a surprising complement to their punk instrumentals.
While introducing their last song, Little B!tch’s guitarist told the crowd to “chill out and try not to get bored, because this next song is a little slow.” The entire band then launched into a rapid fire riff that made their previous songs seem sluggish by comparison.
Dead End Cemetery was next up. They played songs saturated with raw vocals and dynamic guitar playing. Henry Lanier, the act’s lead guitarist, even had to take a breather before their last song after pouring so much energy into his vocals.
Genocide Jack, a hardcore band that traveled from Santa Maria to play the show, followed with a passionately performed, chaos-filled set. The guitarist jumped in the air to punctuate songs, while the lead vocalist engaged the crowd with his frequent movement.
Throughout the show, the mosh pit was wild but not uncontrolled. One audience member filmed with a point and shoot while being catapulted around the mosh pit. Another person wore a safety pin in his ear as he cheered for the next band.
To close out the night, Crash 45, a pop-punk band from SB, delivered a punchy set that kept the crowd’s energy high until the last strum.
There was a rare sense of familiarity and comfort between the bands and the audience —partially because the bands were often a part of the audience. Little B!tch played a set and then moshed to Dead End Cemetery’s set. Crash 45 cheered for Genocide Jack, knowing they were up next.
Santa Barbara’s DIY music scene is far from extinct. Although FUNZONE may be closed down, values that formed the venue are alive and well.