Most of what I have to say mirrors my 1996 experience, so read on.
Living next to Northampton made it easy to jump in to the frey. Since TagYerit is not a live band, we decided to participate by volunteering at the registration desk. With 250 bands competing for attention, we were able to be in the middle of it all. I highly recommend this approach for anyone else with an opportunity to be at a music festival. I don't know if what we did will have any effect on the sales of our CD, but we were able to directly hand out copies of our CD to 'zine music editors, four radio program managers, one distributor, some indie label people, one A&R man , and other industry people. Any number of phone calls and mail I would have sent to these people would not have been this successful. We also gave away some comp tapes and 300 flyers.
There were some terrific panels on different aspects of the music biz. They were poorly attended which increased our exposure exponentially. We were not only able to meet some of these people but get to know them. In addition to all of this we got our free passes and had a blast. I'm still buzzing.
Before I run down the brief list of bands that we actually saw, or know, I just want to say that Loud music is not my music of first choice.
Wednesday, we got to Club Metro just as Vision Thing from Boston was packing up. People who had heard them raved. Bunny Brains was just starting in the back room. Three bearded guitarists in ill fitting gowns. Seemed like a lot of noise with no substance. They announced that the band had formed as a joke. For me the joke died after ten seconds. I'd be curious to hear the tape they submitted. Fortunately the Lunachicks started up in the front room and gave meaning to our night out. It's a four woman punk-style band with enough make-up and costume to shout about. High energy and attitude. Big Ass Truck was down the road but we didn't get there in time. We almost saw Flycatcher but didn't have the patience to find a parking space, and decided to forego the crowded smokey room.
Thursday we started at the Knitting Factory Showcase with John Zorn and Michael Patton. They produced interesting things to listen to. I know there were two people on the stage, but we could only see one of them and they were accompanying a prerecorded soundtrack. Obviously I couldn't find much to say about it as a stage show, and I haven't a clue what the significance of it was, but it definitely held our attention. The next performer played solo guitar. We stayed for one song. It was a spinoff of a blues riffy, with Hendrix quotes played in a slow soulful non dance rhythm. I think it was David Tronzo. From there we went to where Amy Fairchild was playing. She's from this area, and I' d enjoyed one of her songs on the radio. Unfortunately the sound system was not that good so we moved on to see Jack Drag. They sounded good, but nothing stood out for me. We moved along again hoping to catch Cordelia's Dad, but they were a no-show.
Friday we started off with Spackle, who had a good hard glitter-punk edge. They looked cool too with their mohawk-heads, and their skirts. Over to the Rock Gods of Chicopee - good fun. Their promo calls them "spandexed 80's metal good-time rock with a sense of humor" . Kind of like if the Cars didn't take themselves so seriously. Soup was another fun band. As loud bands go, they were among the most melodious we saw throughout the show. Kathleen Turner Overdrive was ok but somehow their name created greater expectations. (Shades of the Cheap Girls in the Money Pit, who wanted to change their names to Meryl Streep) Architectural Metaphors produced some good neo-psychedelic environmental songs. Visually there was too much fog and nothing else going on. They brought me back to the mid sixties Boston band The Ultimate Spinach. In the middle of all this we took a break from the Loud Music to hear Marion Groves singing and Tom McClung on piano playing jazz standards in a smoky piano bar. This provided an enjoyable relaxing contrast to the mania that followed.
Big fun stage shows were next with Women of Sodom whipping up some fun with male slaves and enemas .(YIKES!)... Drum machines, but live voices and action. Hopefully the shock creates a greater understanding of the roles we all play in our struggles for personal power. In the back room were Lumber who were good but couldn't compete with the Bentmen who wearing some inventive masks and blowing roles of toilet paper* and canned string. Their music was good too.
Two other bands we would have seen, but for a time conflict are The Ray Mason Band and Angry Johnny. We've seen Ray a number of times and he's on my list of the best area songwriters. Saturday, we enjoyed Hevy Floe, who all came out dressed as the unabomber, Sugar Plant, Tizzy, and Helium. All were good, but I was too burnt out to have much to report. It' s too bad, I was too tired to catch the Brain Surgeons.
Next time I'm gonna have to get in training for staying out late.
Just to repeat - My recommendation for bands playing at these things - The best place to work is at the panels and registration desk. then you can be sure that people will hear you.
Rich - April 21, 1996
* ask me sometime about our toilet paper collection.