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Gavin's Underground

In The Loop: 4/16/08. Alternative Concerts

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2008-04-16 -

I had plans to post other material today, but things became busy and two different interviews ended up getting postponed until a later date.  I do know what I'm doing the rest of the week and some of next week, but as usual you'll have to click in to find out what I'm doing.  So instead of doing an interview, I thought I'd do a rant.  I mean, I have a blog, so why not.
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After hearing the story of Red Light Books and their issue with city's Community Development people, I thought I'd cover it a little and get them some help so we could get them back as a venue.  But since doing so, I've discovered they're not the only ones to have a run-in with failed architects who went into government planning.  Some other businesses, including one actual venue, let me know about their issues with the city giving them grief for having local bands play shows at their places.  On top of that, today I read Jamie Gadette's
entry on the Salt Blog about "Doin' It 2008" and it's recent problems of securing a location.  And it really makes me wonder... what is the real job of these people?  Are they seriously that unimportant to our city that they got the horrid task of reading complaint letters, and then acting on them by wasting more paper with C&D letters?  I'd ponder over it more and am half tempted to run down a list of problems they should be doing first.  But since it will only fall on deaf ears and give me another aneurysm, let's just move on to solutions people can do.

I believe that as long as the city (and people who complain to the city) continue to give these businesses unwarranted grief, it's up to them to either charge forward and spend tons of cash to make sure their place is upgraded to concert status, or find an alternative to allow themselves to continue business and have a place for bands to play.  In which case there are only a few alternatives, but they're good ones.  First one, throw Private Parties.  I'm not talking those old ones that involved throwing your room key into a fishbowl, but declaring that your store is closed after a certain time and throwing a private party that's by invitation only.  If a band happens to appear and play some music, oh well, they're your guests.  If people decide to chip in for a donation jar, oh well, it's their cash and they can do with it as they please.  As long as it's not officially declared as a concert, there isn't much that can be done.

The other alternatives require much more planning, but are usually a bigger payoff for the bands and the fans who came to see them.  Secret Shows and Warehouse Shows.  Secret Shows are basically where a private piece of property is found and set up for a show, and then all major parties invited are given the location by email or text only a day or two in advance, to which they spread the word as many as they can.  I remember one last year held in an empty field just south of Santaquin.  This was a barren and deserted farm, nothing grew there, old animals wouldn't even go there to die.  But that didn't stop a couple DJ's from setting up a stage with a cheap light show for $3 a head.  Warehouse Shows are a little trickier since they require an actual warehouse that isn't condemned or looks like it's going to fall to pieces on the opening guitar rift.  But if you have a secured building with decent parking, you've got one major show ready to happen.  The "Elusive Warehouse Show" is probably the best one going in SLC.  (Or at least it's the only good publicly known one.)

The sad part of all this is, I don't think the nightmare is over.  I'm sure there are some places that haven't been hit with a letter yet and have managed to stay off the city radar, but it feels like the past couple months have seen a major crackdown on anyone trying to have a good time with music.  As if this is all these special city workers have to do with their time.  To that I just have to say... shouldn't you be making efforts to keep businesses downtown instead of driving them off?  There's a reason why sections of State, Main and West Temple look like they've been abandoned.  Must we continue that trend?

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