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Britton Powell isn’t feeling great about DIY spaces in D.C. His own venue, Paper Sun in Columbia Heights, has stopped hosting shows because of neighbors’ complaints. Hole in the Sky in Eckington stopped throwing concerts after police shut it down in February. Red Door in Mount Vernon Square has eased back its schedule. Powell’s not despairing, though. He’s throwing a party.
This Friday, the Hume frontman has organized a show in the lot behind Million Man Tires on Georgia Ave. NW featuring five musical acts, two video artists who will project their works, and two chefs who’ll serve edible creations. What to expect, according to Powell: Thousands of tires, four or five video projectors, and “a bunch of beautiful mellow music.” The goal is total sensory overload, he says.
The show is a bit of a happy accident. When Powell’s van got a flat, he went to Million Man to have it replaced. “I saw people socializing there,” he says, so he asked if he could throw a show. The owners were cool with it.
What’s important about the show, Powell says, is that it’s not in a club, and it’s not in a regular DIY space. It’s just a place. “What I’m trying to do is offer up a spark to my peers in the city,” Powell says, explaining that he’s sick of complaints about the city’s lack of DIY spaces, and about going through the normal channels of playing in clubs. “I just feel like people get trapped in the idea of spaces developing over years. Most spaces, like the Red Door or Subterranean A or Paper Sun…it takes about a year and a half or two years for people to actually feel comfortable to show up to concerts there,” he says. “It’s kind of cooler when there’s no predetermined feeling about the environment, when you can move from one [venue] to the other. It’s fresh, it’s more interesting.”
In other words: Since DIY spaces are difficult to keep running because of density and noise ordinances, the scene needs to go into (here it comes) pop-up mode. “People are gonna have to be a little more creative toward where they’re going,” Powell says. “The DIY scene will have to be more of a hunting/gathering, less agrararian kind of culture.”
Still, Powell says he may yet open another DIY space. In a suburb maybe, or another city. “Or another planet,” he says.
Diane Cluck; Susan Alcorn and Janel Leppin; Macaw; John Berndt; and Cigarette perform from 7 p.m .to midnight at Million Man Tires, 3411 Georgia Ave. NW. $7.