I.V. Bands Left With No Practice Space

text by digital-media

18 May, 2023

I.V. band, Duende, practicing atop Lot 22

words by Marion Suchowiecky (KCSB External Music Director 22-23′)


On any given weekday, students biking into campus through the Pardall tunnel might hear bands running through tunes atop what has become a beloved and invaluable practice space for Isla Vista (I.V.) musicians—UCSB’s Lot 22 parking lot. On Wednesday, May 17th 2023, the administration of UC Santa Barbara removed the electric supply of Lot 22 by covering electrical outlets- effectively preventing bands from plugging in their amplifiers. A sign was posted outside the parking lot with the text: “NOTICE: Parking facilities are for parking only. Persons utilizing parking facilities for other purposes including amplified noise/bands etc. may be subject to citation [Cal. Code Regs. Tit. 5 section 100004]” The administration also provided a QR code leading to this website which barres students from amplifying sound above 90 decibels without undergoing a lengthy bureaucratic permission/space reservation process. For reference, most guitar amps produce around 115 decibels, from which one can infer that these guidelines are targeted towards bands and musicians. 


Although Lot 22 is used in large part by student-run bands, the space is also used by various campus dance groups to rehearse. The University’s action points towards a larger issue within the Isla Vista community of lack of easily accessible and safe spaces where individuals can pursue musical endeavors. When speaking about this issue to Ted Coe, one of KCSBfm’s advisors, long standing member of the Santa Barbara music scene, and UCSB affiliate for 10+ years, he expressed that the issue of inaccessibility of rehearsal spaces for bands is not new. According to Coe, before the apartment complex now known as The Loop Apartments was built, that space was occupied by storage facilities which would be rented out by I.V. bands and used as practice spaces. Eventually, the property was purchased and repurposed, leaving I.V. bands with no viable rehearsal spaces once again. 

Isla Vista bands are an integral part of UCSB’s thriving community and social scene. Without the existence of art and music in college towns like I.V., students are deprived of healthy, productive, and safe spaces for expression and socialization. In the 24 hours since the University’s action took place, students have mobilized to show just how much this space matters to the community. Members of the band Nos Algos began posting pictures of the signage warning against amplified noise in Lot 22 late on Tuesday, May 17th. By Wednesday, most Isla Vista bands had joined in expressing their outrage with the action. UCSB off-campus Senator Eric Jacob Carlson shared a Google Form in order to gather information to help A.S senators “better navigate finding solutions to the issues at hand.” Students are encouraged to fill out that form in order to help, and are also encouraged to stay connected with Isla Vista musicians as they determine how to respond to the action. 



I spoke with Joel Jaffe, UCSB Music Studies major, and active bassist for bands like Happy Medium and Duende, about how this action will affect bands in Isla Vista. Here is what Joel had to say: 

Please state your name, year, major, & pronouns: 

A: Joel Jaffe, 3rd year, Music Studies B.A., He/Him/His

Tell me about your involvement with the I.V music scene. 

A: I’ve been an active participant in the IV music scene since my first day in Isla Vista. I’ve tried to serve as a bridge between the pre- and post- pandemic scenes, as I was lucky enough to play with alumni in my first IV band. I’ve helped share their guerilla tactics to enable the growth of an effective community of bands that can put on professional sounding free music in IV. 

What is the function of Lot 22 to the Isla Vista community? 

A: Contemporary use of Lot 22 and other parking structures allegedly began with Jake Morenc, drummer for The Mallards/Closeout/Happy Medium/Noise Complaint. As a freshman, he approached faculty for a place to play drums/ with bands. As the music department doesn’t offer any resources as far as group rehearsal spaces for non-classical musicians, the lots became the best option. Jake recalls encountering campus police early on, but struck a balance with them in pledging not to breach residential sound ordinance- no music after 10pm on weeknights and midnight on Friday/Saturday, no noise above 100dBSPL at the perimeter of a structure. 

What has been your relationship with the space? 

A: I’ve used Lot 22 to make some of my most important connections in the scene, and to connect with a tradition of communal music making in a public space. As a freshman, it was really the only place I knew I could play. I now have a studio in my house in IV, but will continue to fight for others who don’t have access to such resources. You can still occasionally catch me playing at a Lot for old times sake. 

What was the role of Lot 22 within the I.V. music scene throughout the Covid-19 pandemic? 

A: Lot 22 was a site of rebirth for music after the pandemic. It’s an outdoor space that was conducive to lots of music making as people pined for a public space to play and hear music. One of my first shows with Happy Medium was sponsored by AS and performed at Lot 22. 

Can you tell me about the recent actions of the University regarding Lot 22? 

A: The University removed the power outlets at Lot 18 a few weeks ago. Resultantly, Lot 22 saw a major increase in its usage- I personally witnessed two bands rehearsing simultaneously on different levels of the Lot. This past Wednesday I heard rumor of University action from a TA/Grad Student, and later that day saw Nos Algos’s (@nosalgos) post showing the University posted a sign stating the structure was for parking only, and specifically calling out the creation of amplified music/bands. On Thursday morning (today), Lucas Poteet shared an image of Lot 22’s main power outlet blocked off, with a printed label stating “POWERED OFF”

How will these actions affect Isla Vista musicians & the I.V. music community? 

A: The closure of Lot 22 will undoubtedly hurt the accessibility of communal music making among the people of Isla Vista. It will privilege those with resources and connections, who will be unaffected, and create a barrier to entry in terms of what it will take to create bands and have your sound heard. 

Why should people care about this issue?

The university does not provide any viable alternative practice spaces for bands. The school’s music department privileges acoustic music and electronic music, leaving musicians who play electric instruments out to dry. Being a part of the student music scene of this school has been the pinnacle of my experience here. If the administration is blind to the importance of the Isla Vista music community, and Lot 22’s centrality to its survival, then they are truly out of touch. 


Jake & his band, The Mallards, practicing at Lot 22 in 2017

I also spoke with Jake Morenc, UCSB alumni and drummer for popular I.V. bands such as The Mallards, Closeout, Happy Medium, and Noise Complaint, about the University’s action against Lot 22, and how the space has helped define the local scene since he arrived on the scene in 2016. Here is what Jake had to say: 

Please state your name, year, major, & pronouns: 

A: My name is Jake Morenc. I was a mechanical engineering major from 2016 to 2021, and I use he/him.

Tell me about your involvement with the I.V music scene. 

A: So, quite a lot actually. So when I came here, Fall of 2016 was my first quarter at UCSB. I spent that entire first quarter trying to find people to play with since I was a drummer all throughout high school and middle school and everything. So I spent that first quarter trying to find people and then once I did, I finally brought my own kit starting in January of 2017, and I got a band together. But, I was having such a hard time trying to figure out where to play, and then I eventually figured out that there’s outlets and open space on top of the parking garages. So I started getting everyone else to start to do it as well. And, since I was trying to make it such a thing that they, you know, everyone would do it and it just became a community thing. And I was happy to see that, you know, it eventually did become that and was like that for a super long time.
So I’ve pretty much been in at least one band that played in Isla Vista since early 2017.

What is the function of Lot 22 to the Isla Vista community? 

A: Well, it’s essentially three reasons. The first one is that if you’re in the dorm rooms or like you’re brand new to Isla Vista in general, the Lots are the only option unless you know someone that has a garage or for some reason you find a practice space outside of Isla Vista, kind of your only shot. So you keep, you keep your drums in your car or you keep ’em in your dorm room like I did, and you wheel it up there and play. 

And then the second reason is that even if you are in Isla Vista and have a place, you probably don’t have a garage or you probably have neighbors that will b**** at you if you play in the backyard for too long and or, uh, your landlord will get mad if they get complaints and everything. So, it kind of just acts as that space for everybody. 

And then the third reason people go up there is because it’s beautiful and it’s really fun and everyone comes up and says hi. And, you know, it’s just a good center point for people discovering new bands. I know that whenever I first started The Mallards or whenever I first joined the band, it was in 2017, we were like a nothing band. And then because we’re playing so much, people would come up with at least five to 10 people every single time. It was like free marketing by just playing to everybody. So it kinda acts as all of those three things for everybody that plays up there.

What has been your relationship with the space? Do you have any fond memories you can share of the space? 

A: Well, there’s several. But the one that really sticks out and the one that in retrospect is really funny is that, because I was the first person to do it, and I went several years with it just being me and my bands going up there. God, like nobody was used to it. And like, especially the sororities across the street, like AKO would call on me every single time.

So I had over a hundred noise complaints, the cops just rolling up and saying like, what are you doing? And either saying that I just gotta cut it out, or they say like, “yeah, keep going, whatever. Go till 10.”

But the one time that really sticks out was when a cop and his partner came up and were just like, “hey, you guys are playing metal, that’s awesome. Do you guys know any Metallica?” And I was like, “yeah, I know all Metallica.” He goes like, “do you know how to play “One?” I’m like, “of course I do. It’s my favorite song.” He goes, “can I jam it with you guys?” I’m like, “yeah!” So we played like an eight minute Metallica song with the cop that was sent there to shut us down. So, that was awesome. And he shredded on guitar, I think he transferred to another police department, but he was awesome. I saw him so many more times after that and each time he would just roll up, say hi and leave. It was awesome.

I actually have another cop’s personal phone number, uh, because he also was totally in support of me doing it. He would text me updates on the status of me being allowed to play there, because in 2019 for a little bit, there was also this kind of threat that came up again from the school.

It was the vice chancellor of the school called the UCPD to come and shut me down and like actually threatened me. But it was that cop who had seen me before and he actually gave me his number and said, I’ll keep you updated on the status of this stuff. So I’ve met several people who are in total support of allowing us to do this. And I’ve also met several cops that are not okay with it, and they want to be super strict with whatever the school is telling them to do. So yeah, it’s been fun getting to know the UCPD one way or another.

Those are great stories, thank you so much for sharing! So, it sounds like this is something coming from the top- from the school directly rather than the police taking it upon themselves.  

A: Yeah, the only people that have actually yelled at me have only been people in the SRB or whenever I would go to Lot 10, which is the engineering parking garage. Professors and researchers would come up and yell at me, and be like, “I’m doing research and I need to focus, and you guys are being too loud.” So that’s the only time I’ve actually ever gotten yelled at was by administrators or professors, never the police or anybody else. It’s always just been, you know, administrators pretty much.

That’s interesting. So is the administration providing any alternative spaces for bands to practice?

A: Well, before I even started playing in the parking garage, I went to the music department. I said, “I know that you guys have practice rooms and I know that it would be a really tight squeeze to fit a whole drum set in there, but I’m a musician, I want to have a practice room.” And they straight up told me no. They said, “you’re not a music major. We can’t let you do anything.” And then I exhausted all my resources. I talked to my dorm room RAs, the head of the dorm room. I was like, “can I play here? Can I play here?” I exhausted everything that I can think of until I finally settled in the parking garages- and that was good for a long time. But like I said, even then I would get shut down and I was on the top of the parking garage. So it really just seems like the school now is just saying like, “f*** the music scene, we don’t care. You’re disturbing the campus by playing music.” And it’s just like, people love it. 

That is really disheartening to hear. Can you tell us why you believe this music scene is so important to foster?  

A: Well, I’m biased, but I really think the music scene is the most respectful and collective community there is in Isla Vista because the frats are all against each other and they do some bad s***. And the music community really is like everyone is invited to every single show- you can walk in whenever you want, you can party, you have to respect the house, you don’t leave any house trashed, and you just have a good time. And there’s no beef, there’s no drama ever, and it just is like the best community possible at this school, and it’s a shame that they’re going after it in this way versus going after the other communities- and I’m gonna throw out the frats again because it took them until there was like 20 allegations of sexual assault before they were like, “oh, maybe we should like, prevent them from doing this s****. I think that’s ridiculous. And now they’re back up and running like nothing ever happened. So I think that the school is very biased into what they wanna support versus, you know, deliberately eliminate. 

So it’s just, it’s really frustrating, but I really think that ever since band parties started getting rid of a community, um, and it’s a lot safer to go out and there’s more things to do for people that don’t wanna just go to a frat party or just go to a DJ party. I think it’s really crucial to the health of the community.

How will these actions affect Isla Vista musicians & the I.V. music community? 

A: Well, it really limits the new bands because the new bands don’t have any other resources. If they don’t have a practice space. They can’t rent out a music studio if they can’t get access to their friend’s yard or have their own yard. Or even if they do have their own yard, if their landlord is being a d****, then they can’t even start off as a band. They can’t practice. So it really just limits the number of band parties, the number of musicians that actually get to form bands. And that’s just gonna overall diminish the music scene. 

And that’s what it was when I first came here. I can only really think of like four or five bands in Isla Vista that played regularly when I got here, because those bands had garages or backyards. And, they were all, mainly upperclassmen. So, I think the Lot really allows, really just opens the doors for a ton of new bands to start or just jam or to just, you know, form in general. 

So you’ll just start seeing the number of bands and band parties going down if they keep this regulation in place. 

Can you think of any solutions that could help solve this problem? 

A: Yeah, the main idea that I had is if they really want to shut this down, they totally can just provide another space. Even if bands have to pay or reserve the space, fine. Like how many empty, how many empty rooms and halls do we have on campus that are not being utilized at all after a certain point in the day? Like just open one up eight to midnight, like when nothing’s going on. That way we just have a space available for people to utilize. But don’t eliminate the only space that they have right now. 

And if they do decide to open up Lot 22- again, I have suggested this multiple times that it would be cool if they just lost out on a few parking spaces and just taped off a little section for bands to take part in, because one of the concerns was, “oh, it’s dangerous having people  out in the parking garages because cars whiz by all the time. So, just tape off a section, give them two outlets and done, it’s not a big deal.

So, yeah, I got several thoughts on this. If it ever gets into a solution space and if the university actually wants to hear what other people think, then I got several ideas. 

Posted in Blog, Life, Music, Conversation