Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hippies unite!
Soon those long hair troublemakers will have a chance to sit in the grass, while smoking grass, all the while complaining about The Man.
The end of June is upon us and that means it's time for the 2007 Columbus Community Festival, better known as Comfest: Three days of live music in the sun, dogs crapping in green grass and hippies walking through it ambivalently.
I may try and do some coverage for the Friday nght shows. I like Columbus music a lot, but not enough to smell hippies for three days straight.
While the point of Comfest has always had grand aspirations and honestly is a pretty great thing, it's also a festival that rubs people the wrong way at times. Especially musicians and Republicans. I won't talk about why the Republicans are mad.
My own experiences with Comfest have consisted of going with a bunch of people, laying blankets down and enjoying the main stage. I normally sneak in my own cans of beer, because god knows I'm not going to go broke drinking Bud Light. I remember seeing great performances by Pretty Mighty Mighty a few years back, Johnson Brothers, Party Dream, Necropolis, and too many more to mention.
I guess I still like the whole thing, it's just that as I grow older I'm finding the festival is acquiring some of the same hippocritical aspects that made people want to start the community festival in the first place. It was supposed to be a way so the average Joe could be a part of a festival. It meant no corporate sponsors hiring the latest American Idol to perform country songs.
But, as with any festival, you have people who sit on a committee and choose who they want to perform. Therein lies the problem. Humans are faulty. They soon take advantage of others and come to enjoy their feelings of self-importance. I see it happen in every city, in almost every festival.
For Comfest you get the whole aspect of committee members telling bands that if they volunteer they may earn a spot performing for thousands of people. If you're nice you'll get to play! If you do what we say you will get to play! Just let us in free to every single show you have until Comfest. If you see us, tell us we are great. Ass-kissing becomes prevalent and even encouraged. In the end, it doesn't matter if you volunteer or not, it's all about who you know.
Worse yet, you get bands trying to infiltrate the process. Some musicians join the committee and push their own bands and their friends bands. So if you have nothing going on outside of work and can sit in a committee meeting every now and then you may have a chance of performing.
One of the saddest things I've seen all year was one night I was at a show in Columbus watching a band about to go on. I was talking to the singer/songwriter of the band. He suddenly spotted a Comfest scout and broke off the conversation to run over to the guy and kiss ass. I was kind of dumbfounded at how quickly someone could be willing to do something like that. It's something I would expect a fresh-suited business man to do at his new sales position. Turns out long haired rockers have that glass ceiling envy too.
The sad part is that I just now noticed that band didn't even get selected. Even after all that ass-kissing.
To be honest most festivals are run the same exact way. It's just that most are honest with the fact that they pick who they want to. The Community festival gives off a hint that if you are involve within the community you will get a chance to perform. History shows, that just isn't the case.
But what makes Comfest suspect to me is that the bands chosen often do not reflect what is going on in the city musically. Looking at the list of bands this year is like a Who's Who of bands that broke up and simply reform specifically for Comfest. The bands that put out two CDs and hit 50 states in their last tour, will most likely not be found. Never mind their charity shows and such. Therein lies the shadow of gladhanding.
But I do recommend catching these artists this year:
Ease the Medic, Big Back 40, earwig, the Slide Machine, Deadsea, Grafton, Envelope, The Bygones, The Rackets, The Kyle Sowashes and PWAH favorites: Time and Temperature
Loyal Divide, The Lab Rats, Sarah Asher, PWAH favorite: Happy Chichester, Mike Rep and the Quotas, Night of Pleasure, Terribly Empty Pockets, Miranda Sound, Mors Ontological, The Lindsay, Evil Queens and Hugs and Kisses.
Not that great of a day, but check out The Rosehips, The Patsy's, Embruje, You're So Bossy, Church of the Red Museum and The Receiver.

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