30 Tickets: How Düüns is Honoring DIY Music in San Diego BC ARTIST PROFILE: Düüns
SAN DIEGO, CA- “It is still so cold in New York,” I thought to myself while basking in the California sun and sipping my homebrewed mix of tequila and gatorade. Surfers and young artists mingled around me with brown bagged beers and cigarettes. We were waiting for the main event, a live rock show that local psychedelic band, Düüns, put together in this dirt parking lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean. With the sea air tickling my nostrils, the golden hour light kissing my face, and knowing that in just a few hours there will be bands playing, I said in my mind, “This is the epitome of Southern California Do-it-Yourself music.” And the evening had only just begun.
Six months prior to the Düüns gig, I was shooting a punk show in a loft in Brooklyn, New York. I had spent six years in the city and my music world was strictly in urban settings: secret DIY loft events, rooftop parties, and concerts at established venues. Although the rock n’ roll culture of New York was extremely exciting and diverse, I had always been curious about how other underground scenes flourished.
When I decided to move back to my old stomping grounds of San Diego, California, I had the freedom to explore the kind of lifestyle musicians led in this sunny tourism-based city. Within the first few weeks of returning I attended a show at Blonde Bar near downtown San Diego. The first band to perform was Düüns. Their set was comparable to the ones I’ve seen in New York and I was thrilled that they were my first introduction to San Diego’s music scene.
A few months later, Mikey Sykes, one of the members and manager of Düüns, invited me to a small DIY show he was putting together on the beach in Carlsbad. Intrigued, I jumped on the opportunity to find out what a DIY show on the beach would be like.
Back on the cliffs, sipping on my tequila and gatorade mix, I spent a majority of the golden hour with Mikey Skykes, Luke Cottrell, Marc Montez, and Nate Gentry, otherwise known as Düüns. We talked a lot about art and music and the struggle of getting your work exposed to the masses. I asked why they dedicate time into throwing small DIY shows. Wouldn’t an up and coming band want to put effort into playing at an established venue in order to reach more people?
“There are venues out there that give bands 30 tickets and they have to sell them all in order to play” Luke explained as he lit up a cigarette. “And that is the opposite of how it should be. It’s beside the point of being in a band and playing music. Your playing is conditional on your sales techniques.”
With limitations like this one, it makes it very difficult for growing bands to have opportunities to perform. Düüns, however, always have an outlet. “That’s why we’re doing the show tonight,” Mikey added on, “‘because fuck that, lets just go to a parking lot and post a flyer and tell our friends to come and we can enjoy ourselves.”
As the sun was setting and I returned from a beer run with Luke, I began to introduce myself to many of the band’s friends. They ranged from all kinds of backgrounds: a jewelry designer, a woman who is studying art therapy, and another musician who regularly jams with Düüns.
“All of the people who come to these DIY shows are art-type people: painters, photographers, musicians,” said Marc. “Everyone we hang out with plays an instrument or does something else creative.”
The band recognizes that the success of shows like these wouldn’t be possible without support of other artists and peers. “We sometimes try to involve the whole community instead of just focusing on the bands,” Mikey explains, “The scene is only as good as the people who are apart of it. There’s plenty of people who could contribute and make it better.”
Night came as the ‘stage’ was being assembled. Cars and vans were moved to make a horseshoe shape around it, with headlights beaming and yellow and purple lamps installed to create ambiance. A tarp was laid out so the pedals and speakers could safely have a place. The whole set up was very well planned and organized, with many people helping to bring it together. For a show like this, it truly does take a village
The first band to perform was an eccentric three-piece from Temecula, California named El Myrons. When describing them earlier, Marc told me that they were a “music and a comedy act.” He was right. The drummer came on with no shirt, blue underwear, and a gold lucha-libre mask while going berserk on the drums. Another member danced around the circle, hitting his head with a tambourine and enjoying every minute of it.
Düüns was next. I hadn’t seen them since Blonde Bar but I knew they wouldn’t disappoint. As soon as they started playing, the whole dirt lot was propelled into a psychedelic world. The purples and yellows of the lights danced above our heads as the rhythms swam in and out of our ears. With each song change, the members of Düüns switched instruments, keeping the show-goers on their feet. As “49 Cigars” was ending, Marc put down his guitar and rushed to the drums where Nate was playing. He proceeded to grab drum sticks and play with Nate, all while the rest of the band flowed into the next song, “Escape/Awol”. Nate slowly got up, still drumming, and Marc slowly took over, keeping beat while Nate picks up the guitar. That mid-jam switch was one of the first things that grabbed me when I first saw them. Being on a cliff made it all the more better.
I headed home feeling truly motivated. Do-it-Yourself music scenes exist everywhere and Düüns gave me a sneak peek into the one they created. The lack of opportunities for developing musicians and passion for all things creative has driven them to form a community of movers and shakers. The band’s resourcefulness and determination will take them far and they are inspiring others like me along the way. Their journey has just begun and look forward to seeing where they go next.