Lansing’s Snoopfest celebrates DIY music scene’s inclusive spirit

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LANSING, Mich. — The soft rumble of music emanating from The Fledge on March 24 could be heard from around the block. Inside, the sound of guitar, bass, drums and vocals took over the church-turned-community center, marking the inaugural Snoopfest.

The 8-hour music festival featured 10 “DIY” bands, who performed along with other local artists and featured local vendors. Drawing inspiration from house show culture of the ’70s through early 2000s, the DIY music scene has historically been a haven for the LGBTQIA+ community, with its ethos revolving around inclusion, safety and underground emo-punk music.

Kieffer Norton, an organizer of Snoopfest, has been a part of the DIY music scene in Lansing since the summer of 2021. They are the lead vocalist in post-hardcore band Dear Heretic and bassist for the emo/folk-punk group Tequila Mockingbird Band. Shortly after their debut in the DIY music scene, Norton opened up their own home to be a temporary venue for DIY shows.

Kieffer Norton plays bass during Tequila Mockingbird set at 2024’s Snoopfest.

“As far as a DIY show-going experience, my house is pretty accessible,” said Norton.

Norton has now hosted 13 shows at “The Goblin Zone,” a moniker for their house, which has become a fan-favorite venue in the Lansing area due to its welcoming, safe and accessible environment.

“I think that it is kind of hard to find, and I think a lot of people are looking for that,” Norton said. “Me and the people involved with my house, we all put a lot more effort into making sure that it remains a safe space, and that people know it’s a safe space.”

Norton made sure these same values were implemented when creating Snoopfest.

Long-time couple Collin Heavner and Kourtney Baas have been attending Norton’s shows since October 2023.

“Being a girl, bars are my worst nightmare. But at TGZ [The Goblin Zone], I know I can go there and feel safe,” Baas said.

Heavner, a lifelong emo music fan, feels at home with the DIY scene.

“A large part of the appeal of these genres is having audiences that know the lyrics,” said Heavner.

DIY music fans and stepsisters Jocelyn Mendez and Claire Hubbard share this sentiment. The sisters had traveled from Taylor, Michigan, to attend Snoopfest.

“The music is a huge part of it. Relating to the lyrics and going to shows and being able to scream the lyrics back to the band, and to be able to have those connections. It’s knowing that you’re not alone,” said Mendez.

Mendez experienced her first DIY show in February 2023 and has been in love with the scene ever since.

“I felt like myself again after all the craziness going on in the world,” she said.

After Mendez attended her first show, Hubbard also dove into the DIY music scene.

“For me, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere, I never really had that much confidence or many friends. Now, I have met so many amazing people at these shows. I am the most myself that I have ever been. I just feel like I belong somewhere,” Hubbard said.

Mendez and Hubbard attend as many DIY shows as they can; most recently following the Wax Bodega tour through Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

“It’s like therapy,” said Hubbard.

Snoopfest goers moshing during Former Critics set.

“We were the odd ones out, we just never felt we had a home. This is our home,” Mendez said.

The DIY music scene in Lansing has been able to cultivate a prosperous community through venues like The Goblin Zone and dedicated members like Norton.

“It’s completely changed who I am, and my entire life trajectory,” said Norton. “We want [the community] to come experience it. They are welcome here. There’s never been a better place or time to get involved with it,” Norton said.

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