DIO Fest: Four Days of Sharing Knowledge, Skills and Music
Last weekend’s third — and largest yet — “Do-It-Ourselves Festival” (DIO), at The Bay, offered 30 workshops, 6 panels and 50 musical acts across four days and multiple stages. The entire experience was a feat of organization, community, and passion.
KZUM interns were on hand to take in the festival. These are their accounts.
The festival started Thursday afternoon with workshops on Hemp, Sex Trafficking and Stick-and-Poke Tattooing, to name a few.
DIY Spaces Panel Discussion
Thursday’s keynote panel discussion on DIY Spaces was inspiring to witness, to say the least. It featured curators of community spaces from Lincoln, Omaha, and Denver, including those working with The Commons, Milkrun, The Manor/Westwing, and two former spaces. DIY Spaces are not easy to define but often include small groups of people running nonprofit spaces that support small local artists, musicians, and underserved communities. They can be venues, galleries, living spaces or often, all three at once. The panelists spoke about the creation of their spaces as naturally filling a need in the community, as spaces driven solely by passion and the volunteer work of those dedicated to providing a voice for artists. Although DIY spaces represent mutualism, emotion, passion and community, they can be incredibly difficult to sustain. Often, these spaces are left without monetary sustenance, and the multiple and complex risks of running a semi-public space becomes shouldered by a few dedicated organizers with no legal experience or resources outside the community they’ve worked to create. This brought the panel to a serious note, discussing issues such as legality, logistics, and creating a community that understands the mutual risk associated with being in such spaces. Overall, the talk was powerful and authentic. The subjects the panelists covered gave the audience a new perspective on DIO Fest itself, and seemed to level the community of performers and audience members.
It was day two of Do It Ourselves Fest, an annual four day event hosted by The Bay. There were a selection of workshops, panel discussions, and lots of music. Arriving in the evening, it was an environment most would enjoy: fun music, chill people, and super tasty espresso. On the schedule there was a workshop called “Erasure & Ink Out” due next in the back meeting space.
Erasure & Ink Out Workshop
As the patrons took their seats she gave a handout titled “Erasure & Ink-out Poetry: Celebrating & Re-shaping Art.” It had definitions of both erasure and ink out, along with a few pages of examples. She began; her name was Maritza Estrada, and she was a student from the University of Nebraska – Omaha. It was inspiring to see not only young women leading out discussions and workshops such as this, but that they traveled out of city to be there. The workshop was only 30 minutes long, and Maritza had to speak loudly over the band playing in the room next door, but she was still excited to share with the few people who had made it to her workshop the wonders of this poetic form. Next she gave each of the attendees a poem to ink-out with a plethora of colorful pens.
After a few minutes, Maritza welcomed the attendees to share our final poems. Two brave souls volunteered. They read their creations; they were simply beautiful words. The workshop brings an appreciation of the original work, all while molding it into something meaningful for each individual.
The workshop ended, feeling more like 10 minutes rather than 30. Maritza went well out of her way to come down to DIO Fest to teach something new. She didn’t know whether anyone would show up, or if her efforts would be worth it, but she did it anyways – and that selflessness is one of the greatest attributes of Lincoln and the opportunities DIO Fest provides to the public.
Video by Bassey Arikpo & Hailey Krueger
Saturday morning was filled with a variety of workshops at The BAY to kick off the third day of Do It Ourselves Festival. Attendees participated in workshops regarding personal health, bullet-journaling, the May Day Coalition and local weeds. Later, five panelists discussed racism and methods of anti-racism to launch another afternoon full of workshops, discussions, and musical performances.
DIY Birth Control/Know Your Cycle Workshop
Tesla Kasten started the morning with a workshop on the basics of fertility awareness and tracking menstrual cycles. She joined DIO Fest when she found a Facebook post that the festival organizers put out.
“I saw the post for more speakers, and thought ‘hey, I could do that,’” Kasten said. “I think it’s so cool to teach and learn about different skills. I chose this topic so people could have something to different to think about.”
She had studied menstrual cycles before due to personal interest, but she learned so much more while preparing her presentation. This spirit of learning and never-ending knowledge is what the festival is all about.
Bullet Journaling Workshop
The next workshop set at the indoor stage of The BAY was Bullet Journaling with Kylie Lowe. She wanted to share her creative habit, which she had started in June 2016, because it has “The spirit of the DIY and Zine Culture.”
Other than adding creativity to her planning and organizing, Lowe uses her bullet-journaling to track bad habits, such as nail-biting. By keeping a daily record of whether or not she bit her nails, she has been free of this habit for nearly a year. “Being aware and not judging yourself can help you make the changes you want,” Lowe said.
This was her first workshop, although she attended the DIO Fest in 2015, which was held at The Commons. “The Commons was a smaller location so I think that it’s so great to have it here at The BAY because it’s just a lovely space that brings people to it,” she said. “I participated because free culture and free community is really important to me.”
Participant Lacey Losh, founder and organizer of Fall for Pride, expressed her awe in the number of events that were scheduled from Thursday to Sunday. “It’s amazing how many things they were able to push into four days,” she said.
Losh taught a workshop for DIO Fest in 2015 but decided not to this year. “Now I’m just enjoying all the workshops other people have to offer,” she said. “Free culture is what it’s all about.”
Starting a Hustle Panel Discussion
Day three of Do It Ourselves Fest from The Bay had a full scheduled agenda of empowering panels, workshops, and musicians totally free to the public. There was one particular panel that stood out because of it’s title: Starting a Hustle. Given the title, this could be about how to start a peaceful protest, or perhaps how to start a “do the hustle” dance party, but alas, it was actually about how to start your own small business doing something you love.
There were several panelists with a range of different trades: Jason Friedmutter of Star City Woodworking, Missy Bailey of Omaha Birth Connection, Rebecca Ankenbrand of Sweet Minou Chocolate, Vincent Martinez of Voufalou (clothing apparel), and Dustin Ferguson of Old Skool Video. There was a discussion leader who came prepared with questions, and audience members were given the chance to ask for advice as well. This panel drew in quite a crowd, and everyone was attentive and some even took notes. There was plenty of valuable advice from these DIO pros, including some important financial advice.
The first question to ask yourself before starting your own business: are you all in? When going on this journey, the risk of losing your entire savings, collateral, and of course the business itself, is very real. The panelists advised that one should be completely committed to their business and passionate about what they’re setting out to accomplish before going for it. They also listed off some local resources anyone can reach out to if they are confused about how to begin their business. There is Lincoln SCORE which is a fantastic way to get started and offers workshops as well as free mentoring, and UNL’s Center of Entrepreneurship for more mentoring and financial advice.
This year’s panels and discussions at DIO Fest did not disappoint. Starting a Hustle was not actually about a nerdy dance, but rather people coming together to talk about the things they love.
Know Your Rights / History of the Undocumented Workshop
To end the morning, five panelists discussed the impact that racism has in their lives. Each had a distinct background, including African-American, Afghan, Native American and Cambodian. Topics they touched based on included tokenism, anti-racism, white saviorism and finding an identity when family history clashes with the living environment. Tokenism was described as the state of meeting the white majority’s expectations of what a race in the minority should look like. White saviorism is when caucasians support minorities only to receive gratification or attention.
The panelists also discussed the battle to become the model minority, a situation where the minorities are set against each other in order to gain the highest rank under the majority. Anti-racism is about finding solidarity and empathy while coupling awareness with action. As one panelist said, “Amplify the voices. Impact trumps intent.”
Inclusive Feminisms Panel Discussion
Overall, DIO Fest was successful with all the workshops, panel discussions and band performances. The final panel discussion featured local artists — Kat from Bien Fang, Mary from Mesonjixx, Aramara from Histrionic and C from Once a Pawn — who discussed music, feminism, and the impact that music on young people and minority groups.
Both Mary and Aramara explained that they pursued music because they didn’t see people like them — a woman of color and a latina woman respectively — in the industry.
Kat expressed similar thoughts by explaining that she had never thought she could be in a band as a child because she only saw white men on the stage. It was only when she moved to Lincoln that she saw a bigger range of people performing that she realized that she could do it too. This culture of performing, trying new things, and connecting with other people is exactly what the Do-It-Ourselves Festival was all about.
Photos by Hailey Krueger and Stephanie Paul
One of the most exciting parts of experiencing DIO was the impressive range of its musical line-up. DIO after-dark showed up strong with anywhere from five to thirteen musical performances between two outdoor stages all four nights. The sets were all short and sweet, at 15-30 minutes, in this way the event was run like an extended house-show showcase, giving each band just enough time to show up and show off. The time-crunch incited volunteerism from all band members,staff, and often the audience themselves in order to give everyone their time on stage. The entire festival,in fact each evening, highlighted the full spectrum of musical genera from folk to electronic to metal. DIO functioned in the spirit of community all weekend, using its platform to give at least two groups an opportunity for their first ever performances.
One such first-appearance was the group Hex Weaver, a formation of longtime musicians that came together to create ghostly, epic-soundtrack style that lived up to their name. The band was made up of past members of Black Cohosh.
On the electronic music side, acts such as Mutinerago Sun, Shit God, Powerful Science, Plastic Garbage and John Freidel, brought an intense and intimate energy to many of the performances. Peter Kapinos, drummer in Powerful Science, noted that DIO was important because “this stuff is for the freaks, the freaks get to come out during the day too”.
The electronic style music itself varied greatly. From Mutierago Sun who specialized in indescribable, improvisational electronic music via drum machines and pedals. His sound coupled hip-hop-esque beats and the full range of electronic screeches, feedback loops and sound modifications. This contrasted sharply to the rhythmic, entrancing rise and fall of Shit God’s performance on Saturday. Powerful Science brought an entirely different feel by walking the line between purely electronic music and a more traditional instrumental performance. This group included three vocalists/synthesizer players as well as a drummer. The drums really grounded the sound that otherwise floated in a high range with lead vocalist Emma’s light, indie-style singing
On folk music side of things performances by Jack Hotel, Chevrolet Pile and Izzy Dominguez rounded out some of other the high tension acts of the weekend. Chevrolet Pile and Izzy Dominguez featured leads from California and New Mexico, respectively. Both singers returned to Nebraska for the weekend to play with hometown friends and family. Chevrolet Pile was a mother-son duo of guitar and upright bass. Izzy Dominguez had a smooth, 50s-jazz-meets-southwestern folk style, playing with another guitarist and rhythm provided by spare DIO musicians. Dominguez started his set with a personal preface, noting many of his songs were “a personal meditation of what I do with my days.”
Don’t let all of this talk of folk and electronic fool you, the DIO mentality is a punk rock one and there was no shortage of loud, proud, hard rocking musicians running the show. Bands of the lo-fi, metal, garage, riot and punk varieties included Midwife, Gnawtastic, Manslaughter, Bogusman, Red Cities, Ivisi, Crease, Boner Killerz, Long Low Signal and Histrionic. On the more traditional side of things, Bogusman and Red Cities gave high-energy performances with a classic rock feel rooted in loud distortion and highly skilled guitar solos.
Overall, DIO Fest outlived its expectations and opportunities for the Lincoln arts community. The entire festival had a summer-camp like feel to it as attendees grew more comfortable with the format and each other. Everyone had something to offer the festival, be it musical skills, photography skills, leading a workshop, questioning a panel, providing food, or selling something homemade. As Lead Guitarist, Rachel Tomlinson Dick, of Bien Fang said during her performance: “thank you to Do It Ourselves Fest for having us. It’s amazing how they organized all the workshops and band performances, as well as publicizing it. Events like this are why I love Lincoln.” DIO did its very best to represent like-minded people in the passionate business of fostering support for art, diversity and knowledge in Lincoln.
-Karynn Brown and Hailey Krueger
September 21st, 2017