Film Screening of "Goodnight Brooklyn"

What Killed the DIY Star? Learning from Death by Audio

It’s no secret that the DIY music scene is Denton is ever-changing. As the cultural landscape of the city has changed to the point where house venues and anti-venues now welcome artists, their followings, and new appreciators with open arms, we are without a J&J’s basement, a Rubber Gloves, and others. The city isn’t unique in experiencing this, and previous examples can be looked at as a point of learning. 

Enter Death by Audio, a DIY space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn which met an untimely demise from people who had championed their efforts in its humble beginnings. The film Goodnight Brooklyn: The Story of Death by Audio, showing at Campus Theatre today at 7:30 p.m., chronicles the last days of the space, showing how its sudden rise in notoriety ended up making it something that couldn’t be controlled by its proprietors any longer.

The film is being shown in partnership between the GDAC and Texas Theatre, with Joshua Butler of Thin Line Fest and Mike Barrow of Campus Theatre hosting. Jason Reimer of Texas Theatre—who is also a former Denton resident—will be introducing the film, which he finds “very moving for those of us who hold those venues in our hearts.”

“Not everyone likes the same thing,” Reimer says. “People need a place to do things that are dangerous or in bad taste or just flat out bad. Artists need to experiment and crowds need to see something that isn’t just a pre-determined version of something else.”

One of the main problems at the root of Death by Audio’s demise in 2014 was gentrification. GDAC executive director Tracy Bays-Boothe sees this as neither new nor unique to one place, pointing to the prominence of house shows here in town.

“Artists seek out affordable spaces to create/ perform and by doing so create a scene desirable to others,” Bays-Boothe says. “Because of demand, rents rise, the spaces they create are no longer affordable and inevitably artists move on or are driven out. In bigger cities, this is an old story – think of SoHo, Chelsea, Williamsburg, most famously. In Dallas, Oak Cliff/ Bishop Arts is an artist hot spot now but areas like the Design District, Deep Ellum, Greenville, even Downtown come in and out of fashion and the venue and housing rents rise and fall to reflect it. Creating these scenes is the blessing and the curse of the creative class. It is about valuing cultural and creative scenes as a community.”

Reimer, a musician himself, remembers working the DIY circuit in his 20s and 30s and getting “almost nothing” but having “the greatest time of [his] life.” The failures of Death by Audio and the pitfalls they found themselves in can be studied and avoided in DIY scenes. 

“Young people CAN find ways to make their own venues. It is possible,” Reimer says. “You need someone that knows how to deal with money responsibly and understands basic business as well as having a great flexibility to what music scenes you attract. Book everything; the crowd will tell you what they don’t like. Don’t be too snobby and assume you know what some people in your community might like. Sometimes a Honky Tonk show right before a hardcore punk show is amazing. But fend off cynicism. It leads to nothing.”

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online or at the door. The show starts at 7:30 pm and is at Campus Theatre, located at 214 W. Hickory St. in Denton, Texas. 

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