Sunday, February 21, 2010

Earthfest How To

We're just starting to get ready for another OneEarth Earthfest.  It's a big rock concert of mainly student bands from KCI as well as a few from other schools and local performers.  If you want to do one this year, keep reading.  If you don't, then come to KCI's Earthfest 2010 on Wednesday, April 21st, from 6-10 at KCI's Auditorium!!!  Vendors welcome!...

We've held three concerts so far, so we're getting better at it.  Assuming you have permission from the school already (we got ours last June) and reserved a space to set up, right about now you'll need to find some bands to play.  I put out announcements in the school, and got students to facebook anyone they know to get the most options.  Set a deadline for demo CDs to be sent in - March 1st or so is good.  At the same time, try to line up vendors and community groups to sit at a table outside the music area. 

Spend a lunch hour with the club listening to the demo tapes.  Try to get a good mix of bands to play.  The band decision needs to be pretty firm by mid-March - then announce the line-up and be prepared for the people who didn't get in to want an explanation, and for at least one of the bands that did get in to drop out.  Also be prepared for huge upsets around who gets to headline.  Nobody wants to play in the first half of the evening.

Have a band meeting to find out exactly what equipment each band has or needs and if they're willing to share a drumset.  Not moving the drums for each band saves lots of time!  The first year we had 11 bands in four hours, so we set up a side stage, so one band started playing as the previous band ripped down.  Moving drums ten times would have been nutty.  Yet we had to once or twice for a few people very tied to their equipment.

Then advertise lots - posters in the school, at other schools, around the city, and call The Record, radio stations, and The Echo.  The first year we had this announcement playing over the P.A.  Get together with the club to make merchandise of some kind.  We hand-made t-shirts the first year and net about $1,000.  The second year we had t-shirts made professionally, and we lost about $1,000.  This year we're back to hand making stuff!

Make sure to book the site for the afternoon of the performance too so you can start sound checks about four hours before. Put aside some money to feed the bands before they play. It's just nice.

The line-up for Earthfest 2008:  McLovin', 15 Steps and Counting, Dew at Midnight, The Estatics, Moglee, Eh Wall!, Dirty Looks, Joe Balfour, Sneakthief, Fatal Flaw, and Vitiated, and for Earthfest 2009:  Jasmine  Drudge-Wilson, Sam Hilifer, Meghan Foley, Four Days 'til Morning, McLovin', Chinese Fire Drill, Great Scott, The Goliards, Knewrawtick, Robin Jupiter, Dew at Midnight, The Estatics, The Vitiated, and Killing the Legend.

The first year we held a second Earthfest outside in June at Victoria Park.  It was lovely, but poorly attended because of end-of-term assignments due, and therefore very expensive to run.  If you want to do that, you need to visit with the City of Kitchener and the Region of Waterloo offices for permits, and you have to walk door-to-door with fliers for all neighbours within a two-block radius of the park.  If you want to sell any food, that's a whole other kettle of fish and permits and training.  Be prepared for noise complaints.  Nobody tried to shut us down, but we heard lots of complaints afterward.  Waterloo Park has stopped allowing much at the bandshell because of the number of complaints there.  It's a shame we can't have more outdoor concerts in the city.  

Here's a montage of the teacher band set, the very first band at the very first Earthfest.  You'll soon see I have no sense of modesty - nor pitch.  I learned to play drums a week before for this one and only performance (around three minutes in).  But the whole point of the evening is to have fun and that anyone can play - even us!

Here's a much better band:   Dew at Midnight at Earthfest Outside in Victoria Park June 2008.

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