As I mentioned in a previous blog, my band played at one of the Hurricane Katrina releif benefits over the weekend. This one at the Continental Club was one of several this weekend.
Benefit concerts are a curious thing when done locally. The big national benefits like Live Aid/8 and the televised relief effort last week are always well-organized and professionally run. Not always so locally.
First, huge kudos to my good friend, Larry Cooper, who managed to pull off the Continental Club benefit with nary a hitch. I was very impressed with the lineup of artists, the turnout and the quality of gear provided on such short notice.
They did a fantastic job of moving bands quickly on and off stage, had great backline gear and the crowd showed up early and was excellent.
The Numbers benefit I went to Saturday seemed not quite as put together. The organizers at MyCityRocks put together an amzaing lineup and picked a great venue in Numbers. The turnout, however, wasn’t what I expected. It was decent, but nothing to write home about for a Saturday and becuse it was such a young crowd, they just didn’t seem that overly ethusiastic.
The biggest issue was the fact that the sound crew didn’t really seem to have it all together. I felt really bad for Spain Colored Orange who sat on stage for like 10 minutes waiting for sound issues to be resolved. Heist at Hand had the entire PA go out for nearly two songs.
When the sound guys were up on stage, they seemed confused by which mic went to which channel and where different instruments should be plugged in. Very confusing for everyone and it didn’t help the bands flow from one to the other smoothly.
Another significant problem was that none of the bands actually mentioned the releif efforts. I found that to be rather odd. They’d play and do their thing but rarely did one acknowledge the reason they were there in the first place. I just think you have an obligation to do that when you are in front of an audience, but that’s me.
The promoters seemed to do their job by talking it up and by getting great bands, but I think it is tough to get a young (18-24) crowd really involved in something like this. The Continental Club had an older crowd and they seemed a LOT more involved and appreciative. Plus, they showed up early and stayed late even on a Sunday.
I think that benefits, if done right, can be really positive. It is the best way for musicians to give oftentimes. But, they really have to be well-planned and well-organized or they end up coming off like either a publicity stunt or a waste of time.
I think the two I went to were both a success, but they also demonstrated the flaws in trying to throw together things at the last minute. It can certainly create problems even if your heart is in the right place.