DIY music events: a how to

A couple of years ago I remember wishing there were more queer things at the 1in12 club… more gigs that were more than gigs, having workshops and food mixed in and then I realised – if I wished there were things like that, I should make it happen!

We’ve now had 2 awesome queer parties under the name of OUT- it’s been a huge success and has filled out hearts with DIY queer love! So here I’m gonna share a few tips and learnings about running gigs… hope it’s useful!


What you need:


It’s always good to have a few bands, and try plan the order so it fits in with what you’d want on a night out. It can be quite hard to find bands, you’ve just gotta keep trying and not give up. Pick a date for your gig when there’s minimal clashes with similar events
Tips for finding bands: Look at events with the same vibe as you want and just keep a long list of ones you’d want to have. I messaged a bunch and waited for replies and kept a log of their replies as many said ‘We’d love to but can’t do that date’ and I think people are always more likely to go for it when you’ve contacted them for a second time. Once you’ve found them… keep in touch!


I always found it hard (especially from asking male sound tech friends) to find out what would be needed in terms of sound equipment – people always use so much terminology it just goes in one ear and out the other…

Things you need to know: What equipment is already at the venue? What equipment will each band need for their set? What of the equipment can the bands bring? Bands usually bring their own guitars, keys etc and breakables (all the cymbals , snare etc) but only one band/the venue will need to provide the rest. Try sort out set times and let everyone know sound checking plans etc as soon as you can to avoid confusion the day of the gig…


Sound techie

Be sure to keep in contact with the sound engineer too – from my experience they’re prone to forgetting and being a bit unreliable at times (aren’t we all?). They’ll need to know what equipment is being used, the set times and what time the bands are arriving and sound checking. Make sure there are going to be enough DI boxes for each bands stage set up (I’d elaborate if I knew what they were, but it’s something to do with the sound coming out right and you need to make sure there’s enough)


It’s not necessary of course, but for many people drinking goes hand in hand with a gig. Depending on the venue it’s also a good way of getting closer to breaking even. We also sold cocktails to spice things up a bit – kept them simple but I think next time I’d take them up another level as long as there was a person volunteering specifically to do them.


Loud, drinking, party vibes are not enjoyable for everyone, and our DIY scenes should really encompass more peoples wants and needs. It definitely needs people to run specifically but it really makes the gig more of an event and if you can afford it, feeding bands (and volunteers if poss) is a great way to make sure they’re kept happy and enjoy their night!


As the 1in12 is a political place and this is a Queer night which is naturally a political act, we thought it was important to make a space for discussion – again to make sure there’s something for everyone and to help us build and expand on our own opinions and ideas. DIY scenes are there for a space to organise and mutually help each other, not just to party, and a workshop or discussion can be a great place for that (as can parties!)



For our night decoration is KEY. It’s not for every event, but if you want to create a specific vibe and make people feel funky fresh and ready to shake their thaaaang then decorations are a fun way to do that. Get creative and get borrowing! Make sure you have enough time to put them up and most importantly, remember it’s your responsibility to take them down once the fun is over.


Promoting an event can be really fun but also a ball ache. Start earlier than you think you need to. Get flyers out far and wide, a week or two before. Get them in pubs, other venues and places a bit more unexpected. Post things on the facebook event in the lead up – you’ll find more and more people will click attending after each new post. This modern age we live in is full of hype so be sure to build your own or you’ll get lost in an abyss of excitement… which could be worse than it sounds.

Tasks on the night

I think it’s easy to underestimate how many things need to be done on the night. I put a call out for people to help with a few things on the night (being on the door, cocktails, generally watching the space and responding to inappropriate behaviour). There’s usually people around and willing, but people have a tendency to assume their friends will help when it’s best to make sure they want to! There’s lots of tasks that only key people can help with, so try get others to cover all the tasks that they can.


But the be all and end all – is that it aint that hard, don’t be afraid to ask more experienced people questions and get help! Even if you think you can do it on your own, more heads make better things… Throw ideas around early and keep in touch. If you’re working in a group make sure you all know what each other are working on and nothings forgotten or done twice.

The buzz you get when the bands thank you, and when people thank you for creating a really special atmosphere and safe party is worth all the hard work… especially when you count the takings and you’ve exactly covered everything! So get out there and get organising some great shows – do it for yourself, do it for your friends, and do it to support the bands!


by Emily Connor

This was printed in Girl Love #5 which you can read free online or order a printed copy.

Do you have any skills to share? Contribute to Girl Love #6 by emailing and receive  a free copy.