Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Make Music Pasadena: WTF?

Okay I let my lazy/busy-ness get the best of me and now I'm a week behind again. So let's back the truck up to last Saturday -the 19th - when I decided to check out the Make Music Pasadena Festival. A one day event that promised a big line up on several stages as well as "hundreds of spontaneous musical performances," whatever that means. And it's all FOR FREE. And free stuff is never bad... right?

Now keep in mind this is the Saturday that followed the ill-fated outing to the movie at the cemetery and while I was ready to curse the outside world and become a shut-in forever, I let my pointless optimism get the best of me and instead elected to give this a shot. How do you think it turned out?

Oh, wait, did you read the title of this post yet? Yeah. So you know where I'm going with this.

I'd recruited my sister Katie and Becca to tag along with me. Devin intended to come along, but wasn't feeling great and needed to rest up for the Iron Maiden concert he'd randomly decided to attend later that evening. (This from the man who listens to Band of Horses and Connor Oberst.)

When we arrived in Old Town Pasadena I noticed some crowds, but nothing more spectacular than any other Saturday. Shouldn't there be... I don't know... some stages set up some place? Or tents, perhaps?

I thought about this one weekend when Devin and I went to a bar for his cousin's birthday party, only to find the place totally empty, and after waiting around for 20 minutes realized that we'd (I'd) mixed up the dates and we were actually a full week early. I wondered if maybe I'd made the same error once again. Maybe this was all taking place tomorrow?

Then we drove passed a street and I noticed a modest stage and a smattering of people. It wasn't what I'd anticipated, but it showed some promise. And hey, it was still early.

Little did I realize this would be the only real evidence of this alleged festival that I'd see for the next 3 hours.

As we wandered the streets, feet hurting, thirsty, hot, I couldn't find a single event. There was no music in the air. No plastic cups of beer. At one point I saw a large crowd inside a bar and thought perhaps there was something happening inside, but I think they were all just watching a World Cup game. A few people we passed were referring to pieces of paper that appeared to be maps and a schedule of events. I stopped to ask (or perhaps confronted) a young couple to find out where they'd obtained their map. The boy and girl looked at one another in silence, then back at me, then at one another. It was as if they were getting in trouble, or I'd asked them a trick question. Eventually one of them said he'd gotten the map from a local security person. Ok, noted. Thank you, nerd.

I was getting a bit crabby so we decided to grab lunch. As we neared the restaurant, I spotted one of the security people with the coveted maps and ran up to him. He was busy directing a long line of cars into one of the public parking structures. How could there be this many cars showing up but so few festival goers in action? What was I missing?! Or, what was going on in this parking garage?

After lunch, we used the map to try to locate one of the stages. Try being the key word here. Sure enough, when we arrived at the location where music was promised, we found nothing. NOTHING!

Seriously, was this a joke? Looking at the map (the map of lies!) I saw at least 20 sponsor logos. What could the sponsors' money possibly have been put toward? Besides printing the maps themselves. It was as if the festival was conceived by 3 music enthusiasts during a night of heavy drinking and they all were like "Yeah man, we should totally put on a festival. It's gonna be awesome!" And Guy 1 promised to book the bands, Guy 2 promised to set up the stages, and Guy 3 promised to do the web page and map. Then when Saturday rolled around, Guy 3 was like "WTF? guys?" And Guys 1 and 2 were like, "Oh, sorry dude. I didn't know you were serious. Nice map."

We made our way to another bar to formulate our plan. As we sipped on white wine sangria, we lamented what a waste the festival had turned out to be. Coming from upstate/central New York, where it snows and is cloudy 11 months out of the year, we'll take any excuse to be outside in the summer, drunk on sunshine and Coors Light. Every weekend there is some kind of festival to attend and we know how to do them right. Close off the streets, put up massive beer tents, turn up the music, provide assorted fried foods. Could Make Music Pasadena not figure out ANY of these winning factors?

The one band I wanted to see all day was Matt & Kim. And actually, I wanted to see them so badly that I refused to give up and go home. We concluded that we'd make our way to where the stage was supposed to be, and if the whole thing was just a catastrophe we would leave.

When we arrived at that street, however, we discovered a big stage, a decent sized crowd, and some food stands. "A festival!" Becca shouted out. She was right. So this is where it had been hiding.

Now don't get too excited. It was only 1 block long, there wasn't anything to do besides the stage, and there was NO BEER. I know, super fun. And as if they wanted to end all fun, they were actually handing out nicorette samples. Sigh.

Matt & Kim came on about 30 minutes later and their show was terrific. So full of energy. And balloons. And dancing on chairs. It almost made the whole day worth it. Almost. Really I wished I'd just come down only to see their show, and spent the rest of my day doing something (anything) else.

To summarize:

Matt & Kim - Cheers
Make Music Pasadena - Jeers
Future Attempts to Enjoy Society - Inconclusive


  1. Did you mean Connor Oberst? Colin Oberst composed the theme for "Hockey Night in Canada," but it's possible that Devin is a huge fan of this theme song.

  2. haha. yeah i guess that's what I mean. Show's how much I listen to him. I changed it in the post to prevent any future confusion...

  3. Yes, my musical taste is best summed up by Connor Oberst?

  4. Good gravy. I just thought it was a nice opposite of Iron Maiden. I can change it if you'd like.