I realize that M2S2 was over a week ago, and it might seem on the surface to be a little late to discuss the event. However, there was one major problem with the festival that I feel cannot go unmentioned. The problem wasn’t with the great Ear Candy exhibit; I enjoyed seeing all the photography and works of art. It wasn’t the sets I saw by Something in the Wheel or Nicholas Altobelli in the Mokah Lounge. Mr. Altobelli never fails to deliver a good set, and SITW proved that the good MySpace recordings are no fluke and that they are poised to become a significant force in the local music scene. The problem was neither The Orbans (who seem to be on the verge of being ready for national success) nor Jonathan Tyler & Northern Lights (who I’m convinced are going to become humongous before the end of the year). The problem wasn’t even when Ryan Thomas Becker’s amp (from RTB2) died on him; Grady Sandlin’s drum solo kept the audience entertained nicely until the technical difficulties were resolved. No, the problem was not with any of the musical acts.
The problem is quite simple: not enough people showed up. Perhaps this is an overreaction on my part, but this has me more nervous about the state of the local music scene than I’ve been since the first day I started the blog. There are many reasons for my concern. First of all, the level of talent on the lineup should have brought far more people out. Both JT&NL and The Crash That Took Me have proven their ability to fill up Granada Theater, which is no small feat. Throw in other major players in the scene such as The O’s, The Orbans, and RTB2, and you have an event that should have had Life in Deep Ellum near capacity, if not bursting at the seams. Yet the main auditorium seemed rather vacant. What makes this even more disturbing is the fact that those who chose to RSVP were admitted into the event free of charge. Normally any one of these acts alone could easily expect $8-10 cover charge just as a headliner. The fact that more people could not be bothered to attend the event suggests an underlying apathy towards the local music scene.
I’ve tried to figure out reasons for why so few people showed up. I would not think that publicity would be the problem, as all the bands did a good job of promoting the event, as did many local blogs (including this one). I wondered if some people might have had an issue with the venue, since Life in Deep Ellum does not normally sell alcoholic beverages. It was widely made known, however, that the fine folks at Double-Wide would be on hand to sell alcoholic beverages. The only other thing I could imagine is that maybe some individuals stayed home because of the Swine Flu hysteria. Whichever scenario you look at, it still does not seem to justify such a low attendance. Life in Deep Ellum is a nice venue with an excellent sound system in the main auditorium, and the Mokah Coffee House has a charming, cozy ambience to it.
I want some input from my readers. No, scratch that. I am in NEED of input from my readers. What does it take to get people off their asses and to shows? If a free event of this magnitude does not bring out the fans, what will? And what does it take to bring new fans and new blood into the scene?
I know what the problem is not. As I have said before, the problem is not a lack of talent within the scene. Every act I saw at M2S2 I would classify as grade A entertainment, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what our metroplex can offer. I could go on for days about the talent in the area: THe BAcksliders, Rahim Quazi, the cut*off, Macon Greyson, Lovie, Winslow Bright, Airline, Dove Hunter, Salim Nourallah, The Felons, Little Black Dress, Doug Burr, Menkena, The Drams, Somebody’s Darling, Sarah Jaffe, Camille Cortinas, and the list could go on and on. And while the economy may be a factor for many disappointing turnouts, it doesn’t get cheaper than free, and that was the cover charge for those who decided to RSVP. Therefore, money was not an issue in this case. So tell me, what is the problem? And from there, what can I as a blogger do? And while I’m asking questions, I have one for my readers: what can you be doing to strengthen the local music scene? Come on readers, help me help you.