On Wednesday, Feb.18, two touring Californian bands, Screaming Mimis and Decent Criminal, came to Galesburg to hold a pop-up concert on Monmouth Boulevard. DIY Galesburg, a DIY music collective headed by senior Hadley Gephart and sophomore Kyle Hall, organized the event. Through their collective, the two music lovers are working to book shows for touring bands and to put Galesburg on the indie music circuit.
“It [puts] Galesburg on the map in some ways for touring artists and bands that are coming through, when you book as many shows as we are booking, which is a lot compared to a lot of cities that have DIY collectives,” said Hall.
While Gephart and Hall have been booking bands since last year, the duo started booking bands under the name DIY Galesburg in the fall of 2014.
“This year, we decided that it’s more approachable if there [is] a collective or a name … And it would open up more opportunities for other people to help and volunteer and get involved,” said Hall.
After less than a year under the DIY Galesburg moniker, Gephart and Hall are busier than ever working to connect bands from across the country to the Galesburg community.
“I would say there are probably two ways to get in contact with a band,” explained Hall. “One being the band finds you. The band is booking a tour themselves and they’re seeking out places to play and they’ll go to online places that exist. … That have listings for each city. … Or we would just make connections through touring yourself.”
“We get a different demographic of people asking for shows because we have an email and we have a listing on [dodiy.org]. Bands from all over will just email us and ask if they can come play, which probably wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t listed ourselves on the website and become more organized,” said Gephart. “It can be about personal connections or about people reaching out to you through the [online] network.”
While Galesburg may have a smaller underground music scene compared to other cities, Gephart and Hall both believe that the ‘Burg is situated perfectly to become an indie music hotspot.
“We are in a centrally located place with the Quad Cities and Peoria, both an hour away. Bloomington, Ill., and Springfield are close, too. These are towns that have established scenes,” said Hall.
“We’re [also] a good point between Chicago and Iowa City and Des Moines,” said Gephart.
As a collective, DIY Galesburg recognizes certain principles it adheres to that differentiate it from other DIY collectives, particularly an emphasis on community and the artist.
“[One] thing that makes DIY Galesburg different [is that] all of our shows are all ages,” said Hall. “We’re not interested in booking shows that are not [for] all ages so that everyone can attend. All of our shows are free and donation based … we’re not interested in renting out venues, we’re not interested in renting out clubs and paying a sound person. That’s what I think makes it DIY: Do-It-Yourself … we just want to make sure that everyone who wants to participate can participate.”
“In terms of setting up a show … we get a bunch of emails a week. We try to look for bands that are on tour instead of bands that just want a show,” said Gephart.
While DIY Galesburg has recently been gaining traction in the local community, the organization is not the city’s first attempt at a thriving music scene. Although many students would find it hard to believe, Galesburg was once a flourishing music hub.
“There have been DIY scenes for independent artists in Galesburg over the years, but it kind of just comes and goes with the people who live here,” Hall said. “In the ‘90s, there was a lot happening in Galesburg, especially with punk.”
With an organized collective, the two music curators hope to end the fluctuations in music activity by establishing a permanent local music scene.
“Our hope is that the more we book shows, the more it seems like a consistent thing, the more other people can get involved at Knox. … And it can be more of a long-term thing,” said Hall.
But above all else, Gephart and Hall hope that DIY Galesburg will foster a more cohesive, community-centric atmosphere in Galesburg.
“I want to encourage people to look this up on their own, do some research into DIY culture and the independent music scene and underground music and how bands come through and think about if that’s something you want to support in their own community,” said Hall.
“Anyone can be involved if they want to,” said Gephart.