Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Music Festival Struggles

I don't take any joy whatsoever hearing that the DAM! Fest and the Six Points Music Festival are currently having a rough go of it. But I disagree with Andrew Wiseman's assertion of equivalency. He asks, "But really, are the two festivals that different?" adding, "It doesn't seem like most concert goers noticed a distinction." Well, there was a distinction. DAM! Fest put together shows packed with bands that people were familiar with and were capable of drawing while Six Points featured a mix of acts most people never heard of and local acts that play a gig somewhere every weekend, making it hard to sell their Six Points performance as some sort of "special" occasion.

It seems pretty clear that the former fest was built around the idea that booking the best bands possible was a virtue, and the latter was built according to some sort of local-scene-edifying egalitarian principles that sounded pretty on paper but a no sale in pragmatic terms. Both were held unerringly during a period of time when my live rock viewing was badly circumscribed by the need to rehearse and perform theatre, but, apart from the occasional friend on the bill, I never really thought I missing out on much as far as Six Points was concerned, but I was frequently sad about missing DAM! Fest nights.

Besides, I think I got the maximum entertainment value out of Six Points simply by watching the rancorous dialogue that took place between Full Minute Of Mercury's Chris Dixon and the people who worked on Six Points, including, if I recall correctly, Heather Huff. Dixon didn't take a Six Points snub very well and heroically, hilariously threatened an insurgency. Huff adopted what would become a well-worn catch-all excuse, "Hey, we're volunteers," as if the virtue of volunteerism was so great that it rendered all criticism not just moot, but gauche and mean-spirited as well. Which was sort of hard to accept. I mean, I'll volunteer to remove your appendix, but I wouldn't let me do it.

Anyway, combining the two festivals is a non-starter unless one is willing to give up its identity and ethos. Obviously, though, I think the DAM! Fest is the more sustainable model, and the one worth saving. But neither truly approach the whole quintessential DC-ish-ness of what happens at Fort Reno every summer.

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