There's nothing like the labor of love that brings people together.
Hailing from the Filipino underground hardcore punk scene is the Sleeping Boy Collective, a passionate DIY unit that mounts ground-shaking shows for their vibrant community of showgoers and music enthusiasts. Besides inviting rock acts from all over the globe, they also make it a point to bring important issues to the forefront.
"We always strive to empower other kids to understand why we do what we do and get them involved, which has led us to build friendships that last a lifetime," Sleeping Boy Collective says.
Before the end of 2019, Bandwagon caught up with the collective to share their story, how they put up their DIY shows, and their plans for the coming year.
How did Sleeping Boy Collective (SBC) get started in producing shows? What inspired you to do shows and keep doing them?
Sleeping Boy Collective started as a group of friends who got together and decided to pool whatever scant resources we had to try and bring in the bands we wanted to see. We were all greatly inspired by the DIY ethos in the local hardcore and punk scene and realized that if we don't do it, no one else probably will.
Since then the community has grown beyond anything any of us ever expected and meeting different people night in and night out who have found a home in our little pocket of the scene motivates us to keep doing this for as long as we can.
It's never easy to put up events, what's it like to do DIY shows?
Very exhausting but infinitely rewarding. Being a largely DIY unit, we operate under a certain set of principles (e.g., affordable pricing to make shows more accessible, no corporate sponsorships) that we have drawn for ourselves. Most of the time this makes things so much more difficult because we do not have the machinery that other productions enjoy, but we have been very lucky to find ourselves in a community with people who value what we are doing, and are willing to contribute their time, money, and talent to help us make the best possible show we can.
We still consciously worry about how every show will turn out. There will always be hiccups, but at the end of the day, we try to make it work and learn from each experience.
It's such a cliché to call it a labor of love, but that's exactly what it is. None of us get paid to do any of this, and most of the time we end up paying out of pocket to cover for miscellaneous expenses. But it's the little moments, like seeing the twinkle in other kids' eyes after each show or stuffing vegan food into our faces with our favorite bands, that makes everything feel worthwhile.
Your live show roster has a wide range of international artists from Turnover to Chinese Football, how do you choose which acts to work with?
Potential shows are usually assessed on a case-to-case basis but whenever there's an opportunity to bring in some artists these are some of the questions we always ask ourselves before deciding:
Will experiencing the artist/s help the scene grow?
Do their ethics align with ours?
Will we be able to connect them with the right audience?
Is the deal workable enough to mount a show with our non-negotiables intact?
You've used some of your shows to contribute to specific causes and foster a spirit of community among fans, why take this route?
It's a route well-trodden by many others before us, for sure. Most of us grew up in the hardcore punk scene where everybody felt welcome and where the spotlight is constantly shone on important issues, and that is something that we continuously strive to emulate since day one.
We don't really subscribe to the idea of fans, we consider showgoers as part of one big community making these shows happen. We always strive to empower other kids to understand why we do what we do and get them involved, which has led us to build friendships that last a lifetime.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Demand projections are always tricky as it's not always easy to gauge interest in some of the bands we bring in. We tend to always err on the side of caution so sometimes we'd book a Mow's show and suddenly 200 kids would show up and we'd end up having to turn people away due to safety reasons. This is why we always encourage buying presale tickets--so we can move to bigger venues if the demand is sufficient and in turn provide a better experience for everyone.
Beyond that, finding affordable mid-sized venues that can accommodate our kind of shows has been an ongoing challenge for us. The teams behind Mow's and 123 Block have been cool enough to provide us a home in the past couple of years, but we are always on the lookout for bigger venues in case the situation calls for it.
You've had 14 shows this year alone. What are your top 5 shows for 2019 and why?
We're always hard-pressed to answer these kinds of questions because every show always ends up feeling special to each of us at the end of each night.
What’s next for SBC in 2020?
We've already announced the Knocked Loose and Power Trip shows slated in the 1st quarter, and we're working on a few other shows as well. This year we also dipped our toes in helping structure a full Southeast Asia tour for Teething, and it's something we look forward to doing more of next year.
Sleeping Boy Collective's next show will feature the live performance of Texas-based thrash metal act Power Trip, happening at 123 Block on February 9 (Sunday). Get tickets here.
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