The much-beloved organizer of Skitchin’ Fest and publisher of Skitchin’ Music Zine is preparing for his third Grand Rapids punk festival that takes place over two days this weekend at The Pyramid Scheme.
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Punk music seems to balance on a unique juxtaposition: brimming with attitude and angst, while at the same time fostering a community of like-minded, passionate individuals who look out for each other.
“I think it’s important for a lot of reasons. It represents everything I love most about our music scene and our city in general and rejects all the negative aspects of both.
“It’s meant to be this pure, heartfelt, all-accessible place for music fans of all kinds to come and experience the community at its happiest and most conscious,” says the much-beloved Dykema, who runs both Skitchin’ Fest and the Skitchin’ Music Zine.
“In that room, everyone’s agenda should be the same and it’s simple – to have fun, to celebrate each other and to be safe while doing so. For many of the bands and even the people just attending, they’re looking for something to belong to and I want them to know that if they want to be a part of this then they already are. I think and hope that it shows that punk rock can still be a party without being exclusionary. It’s 2019.”
This year, Skitchin’ Fest returns for its third incarnation, this time taking place Saturday and Sunday at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids and evoking the spirit of punk music in an inclusive, communal fashion. Performers at Skitchin’ Fest 3.0 will include FLUSHED, Alien Dogs, Blind Adam & The Federal League, Turnspit, Flushed, Rendered Worthless, 78 Revolutions Per Minute & Pancho Villa’s Skull, Distants and Ugly Flannel.
Dykema started the Skitchin’ Zine in 2016 to highlight local music and art, specifically the DIY punk scene. He conducts interviews and writes articles, and with the help of some friends, publishes the zine with no particular schedule.
The publications include show dates and visual art from local artists. The Skitchin’ Zine is available at Vertigo Music and can also be ordered by Facebook or email.
“It’s really a diverse punk scene. There’s so many different styles of music that fall under the punk umbrella, so you’re getting something different at every show. It gets bigger and bigger always,” he says.
“There’s always something to do. I don’t know if I could have said that about Grand Rapids when I was younger.”
‘AN AMAZING HUMAN’ WITH A PASSION FOR ACCESSIBILITY
One thing Dykema is especially passionate about is making sure the shows he hosts are accessible for those with physical disabilities. Dykema has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a genetic disease that affects the muscles, requiring him to use a powered chair for mobility.
“It’s a big part of who I am, my disability. But not in a negative way,” Dykema says, noting Skitchin’ Fest is 100 percent wheelchair-accessible.
“I wanna use that to make sure that even people with disabilities are able to go to shows and feel comfortable at shows. And that’s a big thing that I promote in the zine and at Skitchin’ Fest, too. We have other disabled people attend the festival every day, not just me.”
Dykema’s impact on Grand Rapids’ punk scene and the community at large has been wide-ranging, as musicians will attest.
“Tyler is an amazing human and cares about his community and friends more then anything,” says Rob Bruce, of the punk bands 78 Revolutions Per Minute and Murder Party, as well as solo act Thomas Gun.
“He uses his voice to spread an awakening message of accessibility that we all desperately need to be paying attention to.”
Don Carlisle of punk’s Bet on Rats and manager of Knavish Audio cites Dykema’s selflessness. “He uses his platform and his clout to lift up others and make our world a better place for the people who really need it,” he says. “And even though he’s doing big things, he still has the time to lift up others. He exists at the heart of what it means to be radical and righteous.”
Proceeds from merchandise sales at Skitchin’ Fest will be donated to Laughing At My Nightmare, an organization that helps children with muscular dystrophy improve their quality of life. Tickets are $8 in advance and can be purchased at The Pyramid Scheme or online at ticketweb.com. Doors open at 7 p.m. Day-of-show tickets are $10.
Dykema says attendees can expect “a friendly environment where your perspective and input is encouraged.”
Changes for the festival this year include a shift from three days to two, access for all ages, and the move from Tip Top Deluxe Bar & Grill to The Pyramid Scheme. The event is sponsored by Party On Printing, a Wyoming print shop.
In addition to a few issues of the Skitchin’ Zine back catalog, there will be a new art zine available along with a new compilation album featuring bands tied to Skitchin’ Fest. The zine will be available courtesy of Put Out Your Own Records, and fans can expect giveaways, including vinyl records.
“Truthfully I let this thing ride and let It take me where it goes. I’d like to keep doing what I’m doing with it, two or three issues a year and want to make the fest happen every year,” Dykema says.
“I want to make sure the focus is always on the local and Michigan artist. But also, it’d be very cool to get a national headliner at some point, just to kind of attach some of the bands around here with a big thing and promote them even further.”
LOCAL SPINS TICKET GIVEAWAY: The first person to email email@example.com with “SKITCHIN” in the message field will win a pair of tickets to Skitchin’ Fest. Check The Big List Concert Guide every week for your chance to win concert tickets.
PHOTO GALLERY: Tyler Dykema and Skitchin Fest 2018 (Tip Top Deluxe)
Skitchin’ Fest 3.0 at The Pyramid Scheme (June 1-2)
Day 1: FLUSHED, TURN SPIT
BLIND ADAM & THE FEDERAL LEAGUE
Day 2: UGLY FLANNEL
DISTANTS, 78 REVOLUTIONS PER MINUTE
Copyright 2019, Spins on Music LLC