Vans Taps Into Miami's Independent Music Scene With Concert Series the Spirit of DIY

Fort Lauderdale's Gouge Away is part of South Florida's DYI scene.
Fort Lauderdale's Gouge Away is part of South Florida's DYI scene.
Photo by Ron Yamasaki
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The Spirit of DIY, a concert series launched by the skateboarding-shoe company Vans, celebrates the do-it-yourself hardcore punk movement that began in the late '70s. Popping up in South Africa, the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe, and across the United States, the global initiative is set to land at Gramps September 28. Culture Abuse, Gouge Away, Jeromes Dream, Soul Glo, Horse Whip, and other band will perform. In keeping with the DYI theme, free handmade merchandise, mixtapes, and zines will be available.

With the Spirit of DIY, Vans aims to highlight 15 local DIY music scenes across the globe by presenting bands and speakers that embody the do-it-yourself ethos. “The campaign speaks to a universal idea of creative expression and shows how it’s manifested by Vans family around the world,” says Jamie Reilly, Vans VP of global creative.

Miami's iteration of the series includes performances by punk and hardcore bands influenced by the '70s DIY punk movement. Fans can also expect goodies such as mixtapes created by David Kelling of the Bay Area punk band Culture Abuse, zine-making tutorials, and free T-shirts. In true DIY Miami fashion, Brian Butler of Upper Hand Art will live-sketch the show.

Though Vans is paying homage to the early punk era, it is also tapping into internet-age DIY trends. In the modern era, the independent approach to crafting music and art extends beyond the world of punk, and zines thrive online well beyond their local art scenes.

But what does a successful DIY music scene comprise? There's nothing like seeing the same bands play different venues each weekend and seeing familiar faces at different shows. With spots such as the Cabin, Sweat Records, Churchill's Pub, Space Mountain, 777 Mall, and Gramps, the Magic City is lucky to have a music and art scene thriving in such spaces despite the scourge of never-ending venue closures.

Christina Michelle, lead vocalist of the Fort Lauderdale hardcore band Gouge Away, which is slated to perform at the Spirit of DYI concert, has been attending shows in South Florida since middle school. "The DIY scene is very strong," she says. "It’s what keeps South Florida bands going."

Because the venues in Fort Lauderdale are a bit sparser than in Miami, Michelle finds herself traveling between her hometown and the Magic City to attend shows or play gigs. "I don’t usually think of the Miami and Fort Lauderdale DIY scenes as being separate entities," she says. "It’s really more of the South Florida DIY scene to me." Two of her favorite Miami venues are Space Mountain and Churchill's.

When proper venues are scarce, pop-up shows at warehouses and backyards fuel the scene till the next venue comes along. "Fort Lauderdale has always had trouble keeping spots open," Michelle says. "There's been a few warehouse shows lately — those are great. It’s a good way to keep shows going."

Playing DIY shows can be intimidating to younger musicians, so Michelle advises the next DIY generation to "keep playing, keep meeting people, and just be as open as you can. You can learn a lot by just being around and taking everything in. There's that saying: 'A rising tide lifts all boats.' I like to think about DIY that way."

Vans' the Spirit of DIY. With Culture Abuse, Gouge Away, Jeromes Dream, Soul Glo, and Horse Whip. 7 p.m. Saturday, September 28, at Gramps, 174 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Admission is free. Visit vans.com/diy for more info.

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