Backyard DIY

The Freedmen’s Bureau CD release show exhibits catharsis.


Photo courtesy of Christian Davis

Christian Davis, Writer

DIY mentalities are a priceless and beautiful thing. The sharpied X’s on our hands replace printed tickets, merch tables are run by close friends–or the band themselves–and alternative spaces like basements, backyards and warehouses suddenly have the potential to become something far greater than initially intended: a platform for a soul-bearing and life-affirming performance.

The Journey’s Beginning

These sort of makeshift shows should make you second-guess where you stand in relation to music. Admittedly there is something undeniable about watching a band in an arena, about joining in thousands of voices who love those songs as much as you do. But something magical happens when that sort of energy arrives in a backyard. A band in a backyard deserves as much respect and support, if not more. For them, the journey is just beginning, and they cannot do it alone.

In a surprisingly well-lit backyard a stone’s throw from campus, The Freedmen’s Bureau held their CD release show and kept the ancient DIY ritual alive and well. The Bureau operates with as much catharsis as humanly possible, replacing a conventional indie-rock performance with an emotive journey using post-rock influenced structures and blistering spoken word tendencies.

Community Interaction

The lines between performer and audience were blurred, if not non-existent. This is true in a physical sense, as drummer Ryan Kozycz brought a floor tom into the audience during the band’s last song. One by one, band and audience members alike brought him the rest of the kit, and after a hearty “1-2-3-4!” he broke into a visceral beat that had swarms of people swirling around him in some sort of punk-tinged whirlpool. This of course is in addition to the microphone going up for grabs somewhere prior, with Bureau devotees screaming lyrics memorized from previous live shows.

Community is essential to the Bureau, and something they credit with the making and release of their debut record, “3 Years Later.”

“I would say this whole Bureau thing was more of a community than a band. And what I gained from that new community means a whole lot more than just playing shows to get popular,” said Micah Cortez, synthesizer player and founding member. “After three years, we just thought it was time, and it didn’t matter that we only had those six songs. I feel like they represent the incredible community I’ve gained, so I’m happy to finally document it and make it public.”

Personal Attention

Six songs aside, this release show was an experience difficult to describe. From start to finish, The Bureau played their album in its entirety. In true DIY fashion, CDs were available to purchase, with hand drawn artwork completely unique to each copy.

It is worth noting the community surrounding the Bureau supported the show. Fuzzed-out garage rockers Desert Woman delivered a set mixed with plucky originals and hilariously fun covers, including “When You Were Young” by The Killers. Chance Espinoza, frontman of the incredible Sound of Satellites sat down and sang one of the most gut-wrenchingly personal sets I have ever heard, throwing down his acoustic guitar towards the end and finishing out a capella. To start everything off, Ainsworth performed another acoustic set, opening the entire release show with a cover of Death Cab for Cutie’s brilliant “Someday You Will Be Loved.”  


Truthfully, the whole night reminded me of the stories I have read about Arcade Fire’s early, pre-Funeral tours. A group of wild musicians turned clubs into spaces more akin to arenas, and the potential for the Freedmen’s Bureau to do the same is undeniable — even if that is not a priority. “I feel like when we first started a few years back, a main focus of mine was something lame like getting famous and going on tour,” said Cortez. “That didn’t happen. But honestly, I stopped caring about that a while ago.”

0 0 votes
Article Rating