The effect of COVID-19 on live music and DIY communities

Spurred on by a post a friend made on Instagram yesterday, it got me thinking about the particular impact COVID-19 is having on the music scene - especially the ‘DIY’ music scene and community.

It’s been a few years now since I’ve been properly into the DIY scene in London, but when I moved here it was my source of friendship. Tiny little ramshackle gigs at Power Lunches, in someone’s rehearsal studio that smelt of feet, heck, even up to the bigger events at the Betsey Trotwood (before it became a gastropub from hell) and The Victoria etc. It felt so much like a community, and how you could go to any old gig and be sure to know someone there. Even before I moved to London, the Brudenell in Leeds was a similar venue and atmosphere, and indeed it was so much easier when I moved to London as already a lot of Leeds people had moved down.

Latterly I know venues like DIY space for London and the one on some industrial estate in north london (god my memory is appalling…probably all those years in pubs).

This is less about pubs and venues going under (although this obviously is a tragic side effect) but more about the impact its having on the communities themselves. Will we ever get back to a place where music fans meet each other, hang out, get to know each other? What’s going to happen to these little microcosms in cities (and towns too for that matter)?

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Thank you for your contribution, Jordan_229.

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I actually think DIY spaces will have a better chance of opening up and operating once there’s a vaccine in place. The virus is going to have a huge impact on things like office space, retail, developments, and the speed of gentrification of places. The less demand for this kind of space there is, the more opportunity for artists and musicians to utilise them.

I also think we’ll potentially see things opening up a lot more regionally - in smaller towns and cities - as people move out of London and scenes start to galvanise in certain places.


Slightly off topic but hopefully it’ll force venues large and small to pay a bit more attention to their toilets too!

I know it’s not easy if you’ve got fifty million pissed up partygoers using the one loo in the place, but some of them I’m sure were legitimately criminal.

It’ll be interesting to see the regional impact - I suppose my question is, would there be enough demand in smaller places? Maybe places where there’s more likely to be ‘a scene’ perhaps.


I think these kinds of communities will be alright. Once it’s safe to congregate in small, sweaty spaces they’ll be back. It might be a bit more difficult with fewer venues to utilise but so long as there are folks wanting to create and experience weird noises and happenings they’ll find the spaces to do it in.


It was already starting to happen pre-virus – smaller cities, towns and villages started getting a decent venue and bands wanting to pass through (Todmorden, Ramsgate, Hebden Bridge, Norwich, etc) and/or a couple of art spaces, and then things sort of naturally gravitate around it and start to solidify. This was an interesting article from the Guardian a year or two ago

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Already dead from covid etc :frowning:

Oh no is it? FFS :frowning:

My local venue has been having events online and selling merch during lockdown. My housemate and I (to a lesser extent) supported this stuff enthusiastically early on as we didn’t want it to close, but we went to a music quiz they ran and it was just really arcane and snotty (“if you don’t know this, why are you even here?” “If you didn’t get that let’s hope you have other skills” - both said about a question identifying a James band t shirt. Sorry but in what universe are items of James merchandise THAT well known???). It came across as everyone knowing each other and lots of in jokes and it was uncomfortable to be a part of as outsiders. We kept muting our mikes to bitch about what a shit quiz it was. Since then my housemate hasn’t made a peep about supporting the venue.

If venues and communities are going to survive this they need to be accessible and welcoming and not sneering at people for not knowing anything about fucking James, or being able to name random members of Coldplay.

Yeah it went a few weeks ago. Tbf it’d been scraping by for a while prior to that, having to have numerous fundraisers and so on, but that did it

also of all the hills to die on, fucking james?!?!?1

alright dad.


of course i suppose the beauty of some diy spaces is that they can perhaps just set up shop somewhere else when all this is over. less tied to a physical location as say, a pub.

Exactly!!! It actually just made me come away thinking they had shit taste in music :smiley:

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like, if it had been some obscure b side by thelonius monk then maybe i coulda been like…yeah ok they’re that type. but james.



Also I think focusing on stuff like band t shirts is laughably naff and restricts access (the dress code was band t shirts, I just ignored it - how often do I find one in my size?? But also they’re not always cheap)

also I think most of them are extremely ugly but whatever

Anyway this isn’t really thread relevant, just wanted to complain about “the scene” in my town


Good thread tilts. I still miss the Luminaire :cry:. Had been thinking about getting back into promoting gigs just before Covid. Might still do it. So many early noughties post/math-rock bands I want to get back together and play some ramshackle places in town.


Yeah I think the small local DIY events will be the first gigs to come back while the bigger tours will have to wait a bit longer. Smaller attendences and half full rooms are much easier to distance in tbh

I don’t know how things work in England where scenes seem a lot more hyper-localised but where I am I can’t imagine anything other than everything picking up where it left off, as long as the venues are still there for them to play in.

If anything I think these small DIY bands normally have day jobs, it’s probably the sort of mid-level, full time but not making a steady living from it bands that will probably be worst hit.


Similar to this, did anyone catch him from The Quietus’ series on Radio 4 last year? Put me on to loads of DIY stuff :+1:

If we get our venue back (yes, one venue) then we’re okay. If they don’t reopen we’re fucked. Spent the last nine years chasing gig opportunities from venue to venue and now we’re backed into a corner, where the only venue available to us is the room above a pub that’s a record store by day and a venue by night.

Don’t think the 500 capacity venue is going to reopen for a long time and I really don’t think we’re going to get our long-touted events centre with a 2,000 person capacity.

I’d say what’s going to happen in Cork is we’ll see more house and garden gigs because the musicians themselves aren’t going anywhere. We could see the other pubs that sporadically put on gigs close and that will cause trouble. One thing is though, we’ve weathered recessions, booms and busts, venues opening and closing, we’ll weather this too.