Friday, October 17, 2008

Squeak and Squawk: Go.

I went to the opening show of Squeak and Squawk last night. S&S is a recently conceived local music festival, of a different kind than we usually see. Most festivals around here are one or two-day events, with outdoor stages. There's a rock stage, and buried around the corner where sound won't bleed too much, there's an acoustic stage, and lots of vendors and everyone just sort of vaguely hopes that the weather will be nice (not reliable when you are planning these things months in advance, or even a week in advance).

This fest is much more in keeping with the musical vibe I've seen in Tacoma: small clubs, indie bands, a bunch of people from a small scene who all know each other. The show I went to last night at The Helm was small but energetic. It seemed like everyone knew everyone, and the bands were genuinely excited to see the other bands.

The problem, of course, is that when everyone knows everyone, it often indicates a closed scene. The only people that are coming to see these bands are the ones that know them. That kind of scene will burn itself out from lack of expansion.

The solution? Go see them. Be the guy that I was last night: the guy standing in the back listening to music he's never heard before, not to support a friend, or a band he likes, but to support an idea. Maybe you'll like them and maybe you won't. At worst you'll be out $5-$8 and can carry on with your life. At best you'll find a few new bands you liked, the scene will be bolstered by new blood, the bands will be excited to see people enjoying their music who aren't socially obligated to, and maybe The Helm will even survive long enough to do this again next year. Maybe by then I'll actually be out there enough to play a few songs at it.

At Bumbershoot this year I was reminded of just how much good music is out there that I have never heard, will never get recommended to me by friends, would never ever know if it weren't for festivals. And so far S&S is doing it the right way: the three bands last night, while all falling vaguely into the "indie" blanket, were drastically different in style, songwriting, and performance. Hopefully they keep it up all weekend.

There are plenty of other posts about who is playing when and where, what bands you should see, etc. But I'll just say this: go. If you want to see more music in Tacoma, a bigger scene, more local art, any of that, it will be worth your while to go to at least one of the shows this weekend, regardless of who is playing what kind of music.


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