Google+ Q Dot: Tacoma, you're just too old

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tacoma, you're just too old

I don't blog often and generally when I do, it has to be something of substance or at least be worthy of a stealing a few spare moments out of someone's day. This is something I observed while on a video shoot in Seattle this past weekend.

I was in the SoDo district this past Saturday for a video shoot with fellow rapper Produktive. During the shoot, he, myself, his manager Dave, video director Brian Tolliver and a small entourage scrambled on foot all around SoDo passing street pole after street pole littered with show posters from upcoming events and venues like City Arts Fest, Crocodile, Showbox, Decibel Festival. It was a refreshing site to see coming from Tac town when out of nowhere this thought blindsided me. 

Tacoma, my beloved city, you'll never compete with Seattle for top level entertainment because you're too damn old. 

First, lets look at Tacoma's festival landscape. A few things consistently pop up no matter what the festival.

1. Recycled local Tacoma bands we see all year long playing the same clubs.
2. Some weird fusion of "music and art".
3. And save for maybe Squeak and Squawk with Oberhofer, no real headline acts.
4. The urge to make every festival event "family friendly".
5. Board members are usually 40+ and are a) scared shitless of anything that would draw a crowd of anyone not in their age range (or not family friendly) and b) forget that Tacoma is the 2nd largest city in the Puget Sound complete with all kinds of ethnic and racial diversity and 3 Universities and programming of these events should reflect that!

Look at that in comparison to Seattle's City Arts Fest, Decibel Fest, Capitol Hill Block Party and Bumbershoot...Mac Miller, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Dustry 45s, Tiny Vipers, Joshua Radin...should I continue? Look, who cares if you think those are good musicians or not look at the name value. And who gives a shit about being family friendly ALL THE TIME?? That's what Freedom Fair is for.

Those "larger" scale festivals in Tacoma that actually have a budget, that actually draw people, that actually get a little bit of  press always seems to underwhelm us with lineups full of some 5 piece bar bands made up of guys in their 50s who no one gives a shit about, a couple juggling clowns (actually cooler than the bands) and you guessed it...some weird introduction of art because "it enriches the community and adds cultural value" (actually said to me from someone I worked with on one large scale Tacoma festival.) While those old bands may be cool somewhere and art for the most part is pretty cool all in itself, people go to festivals to HEAR GREAT MUSIC FROM GREAT BANDS and in Tacoma...of course get drunk.

Now let's look at the few clubs in T-Town that book music. A few things consistently pop up no matter where you go.

1. Recycled local Tacoma bands we see all year long playing these same damn clubs.
2. Retro nights.

Look, I know i'm not the only one here who sees this but it seems EVERY NIGHT IS RETRO NIGHT IN TACOMA! Your bands you book are either old in age OR they're old as in they were popular when we were still wearing Osh Kosh B'Gosh overalls. It's like Tacoma clubs are scared shitless of bringing someone who's actually relevant and new to town for a change. I'd LOVE to be able to keep my ass right in the 253 and go see a dope ass dubstep show or a hip hop show with relevant, upcoming MCs. They don't have to be the Top 40, $30,000 a night hit radio stars, they could be the Rolling Stone, XXL, fill in the blank blog up and comers but no, I have to drive 30 miles north to frickin Capitol Hill or Fremont for that!

Now - with all due respect, New Frontier did have The Cave Singers come to town and hats off for that! Now as for The Swiss? You're sure to get those lovely KRY boys singing your favorite OLD ASS cover songs every damn Friday night. Jazzbones? They'll surprise ya and bring something cool to town every now and again but you'll definitely get a good helping of old rappers too. My first show there was with Sir Mix a Lot - while a legend indeed - he's old. The old Hell's Kitchen's most talked about night before they shut down was with surf rocker Dick Dale. LOL. DICK DALE?!

In comparison to Seattle? What comparison? Their talent buyers are kicking ass every day bringing hot new acts to their city. It's almost disgusting how much music Seattle gets. I compared Seattle's lineup of shows one week to that of NYC when I was out for a trip and if it wasn't for Radio City Music Hall and Fashion's Night Out - Seattle actually had a more stellar lineup of shows that week.

Now let's look at our wonderful theatre programming!!! =) 

Now as it was told to me - Broadway center is supposed to program entertainment reflective of our community here in Tacoma. . . that came from a staffer there. Now think about that for a minute...i've never seen a show at Broadway center that even remotely appealed to me. In fact, it's no secret the Broadway Center, like the rest of Tacoma, books entertainment for OLD FARTS! The Nutcracker and some symphony nights, that's cool and to be expected but bringing Wayne Brady to town? and Roberta Flack? Give me a break Broadway Center, let those acts go where they're supposed to go - Emerald Queen Casino or Muckleshoot casino! Take that money and look at what Seattle Theatre Group is doing. Yea, they're kicking your ass. They have partnerships with radio stations, community organizations and every one else under the sun to stay cool and hip and progressive.

Tacoma. I love you. I really do. But until you old folks who are the powers that be in the entertainment scene in Tacoma start getting some fresh, new, young blood in town it will always be a struggle for you to keep Tacoma's entertainment spending money IN Tacoma.  We will always go outside of Tacoma to see hot shows. Yes, we know, the Tacoma Dome is cool but we don't always have $40+ for tickets to a show! Thank you.