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“Tributefest” (op-ed)

June 23, 2010

The reputation was already established, the indie cred wearing down, and the corporate culture already sinking their financial-gaining teeth into the event, all of that before I even really knew much about what Coachella was. With Microsoft internet lounges and Heineken beer tents, it was very clear to me that Coachella was no longer hip. But there I was anyway, excited, and yes a little scared. I was a stranger in a strange land; I’ve been to my fair share of shows and outdoor concerts, but this was different, this was more dirty, more magical, less real, but more imaginative.

Everyone loves music; if they say different they are either a liar or a fool… maybe both. But you really have to love music and make a conscious decision that you feel this way before you even attempt to think about attending this 3 day festival of peace, love, and ecstasy (of both the literal and metaphorical kind), because if you don’t love music, you will notice that you have to wait 3 hours to take a shower, that you spend 10 hours a day on your feet, barely having time to sit because the next great act immediately follows the great act you just witnessed, and that you have completely severed yourself from the outside world, mostly because it was impossible to find a time or a place to charge your cell phone.

You had no choice but to only care about the music, and if you chose to care about other things while you’re there, you were there for the wrong reasons. Maybe you were there to increase your hipster cred or simply just to party… but the music was there and it couldn’t be ignored, no matter how hard some people tried.

I could go into which bands and artists were great, which were just okay, and to say none were a disappointment. But I don’t want to do that. Daryl Goldes is going to take care of that for you in a bit (the next op-ed). I will say that Coachella for me was a life-changing experience. It changed my perspective on music, art, writing, living… in ways I didn’t know exisited. But we have to tie all this musical madness I experienced into suburbia, and it’s all too easy this time thanks to Awesometown (Valencia, CA) and the “epic” event that they arrogantly and naievly compare to Coachella. Their tagline was: “Indio has Coachella… Chicago has Lollapalooza. Now, Santa Clarita has Tributefest.” I’m sure if you’re into music as much as I think you are (you are reading this) you know I don’t need to say anymore about that. It would be so easy that it would just be a distraction. This could have been a cool thing, if the suburbia machine didn’t take over and ruin everything.

What does this “machine” usually produce when it comes to culture? 1) something that is safe, 2) something that is already known or popular, 3) something easy to control.

This is exactly what Tributefest provided: cover bands of well-known famous artists in a controlled environment with lots and lots of unhealthy food and corporate advertising. I hope they aren’t wondering why the turnout was half of what they hoped for.

I don’t mean to slam the suburban town where we are based, not at all. We are all about exposing artists in environments such as Awesometown (it’s the new slogan for the city, which would take a whole other article for me to get into). But I mean to challenge the suburban establishment to not do the safe easy thing and to do their part to grow and expose the great art and music that is happening right here, right now. It’s raw, real, new and wanting to be heard. The festival would have been a great idea if it featured local musicians that no one has ever heard of, forcing people to be a little less safe.

That is why Tributefest cannot be compared to Coachella; it is the antithesis of Coachella, its complete opposite. Coachella is about giving up-and-coming bands a chance to play in front of thousands upon thousands of people, and it is about music lovers getting a chance to hear some music they haven’t ever heard before. There it is; I have laid the challenge down: I challenge suburbia and all who influence suburban communities to immerse yourself in your local art and culture. To listen to the unknown bands writing original material, to take a look at the art being created by people who can barely afford the materials to create it. Because how can we grow and thrive as a community if we always stick with what is comfortable? Or with what we know? We need to discover the next great band… so another band can cover them at Tributefest. I’ll be trying to do that each year in April at Coachella, I hope you join me next time.

This post is from Proxart Magazine: Summer 2010. Download your copy here.

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