Back to the Streets: Street Scene 2008

Of the many opinions on Street Scene out there, I would like to add my own take. As an event planner, I do to look at festivals like this a little more critically.

Most people were excited that Street Scene moved back downtown. Aside from the convenience of public transit (and not so bad street parking and lot parking) and additional shade from buildings, the ambiance of this year’s event was not much different than at Qualcomm. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, since I really didn’t mind it being at Qualcomm.

I didn’t drink, so I didn’t really get a good look at the lines for drinks. I did notice the separation of types of drinks… this is sometimes hard to manage since it is not often known what the drink of choice will be. The beer garden did have a good deal for drinks: 7 samples for $10 (probably the best deal at Street Scene).

The layout was ok. I would have positioned stages and bars a bit differently, but it worked. The cramped space at the Zarabanda stage could have been partially avoided with a different line up at that stage. Basically, acts like MGMT and Vampire Weekend should have been placed at the larger stages, especially when both of them have radio hits compared to the others that they were up against (yes, even if they had to have an earlier slot).

Oh… and vendors should not be placed on the corners of major thoroughfares, like the hot dog vendors that were on the corners near the Casbah Stage and the Zarabanda Stage.

I don’t know if the emergency crews could even make it to the front of the stage at the Zarabanda stage with the narrowness of the street and stage blocking the entirety. I’m guessing that the city didn’t say anything… doesn’t mean it is any safer.

One good thing… the bathrooms were great in number and were fairly clean considering the population’s drunken state. Props to Rob Hagey for spending money on toilet facilities.

Below is a quick recap of bands I managed to check out and what I remembered of them:

Chester French: Looked them up prior to going. Lyrics were entertaining. Poppy melodies song by the curly haired lead singer. Guitarist was wasted.
The Muslims: Seen these guys before. They are popular locally, but I still don’t get it.
MGMT: Didn’t get a chance to go see due to the large crowd that I didn’t want to fight with. Apparently there was glitter and lots of it.
Foals: The Street Scene guide says they sound like Oasis meets Radiohead. Nothing of the sort. The lead singer sounded like (and kind of looked like) Robert Smith of the Cure. The band actually sounded like Scarlet Symphony as well as another well known band that I can’t think of. I really did like these guys.
The New Pornographers: I really don’t remember anything distinguishing about them.
TV on the Radio: I thought I would like these guys more. They had energy but maybe I didn’t.
Spoon: I love these guys. I have seen them at least three times. I really don’t ever get tired of hearing their music.
Cat Power: Missed out on seeing her. After her last show at 4th and B, it is hard to go back.
Devotchka: Quickly got a chance to see them. A tuba covered in twinkle lights. I would like to see them again sometime. Again the Street Scene guide was off… no were near like Flogging Molly or Dropkick Murphy. More Eastern European/Mexican than Irish.
Vampire Weekend: Love the album and they played it well live. They need new songs. This album has gotten mileage, but it is really time to get new songs when you really aren’t able to play an hour long set to it’s entirety.
Beck: Saw a few songs. Would like to see again sometime when my feet aren’t feeling like they going to fall off. He really is talented. Weird hairstyle choice, though.

The Whigs: Never seen before. They were decent. Don’t have much to say.
West Indian Girl: Caught the last two songs. I wish I had seen more. Very moving and powerful.
Dengue Fever: Indian/Thai flavor to the music. Captivating.
Tokyo Police Club: Canadian garage-rock… not British-infused mod like the Street Scene guide would lead you to believe. Strike Three… Get a new music writer.
The Hives: Listened to them as we were eating. Didn’t have a desire to see, but actually enjoyed listening to them and watching them on the big screen. Lead singer has an ego… but lots of fun. Would like to see again someday.
Tegan & Sara: I love watching these two siblings. at one point Tegan forgot the lyrics to Speak Slow… the audience was able to help with the first verse, but no help at all from Sara or the audience for the second verse.
X: Tired feet, but still managed to get some dancing in. I love these guys. Was very entertained by this neanderthal-looking guy that must have been there to see the Black Crowes and didn’t get the memo.
The National: Sorry Rosey, no feelings what-so-ever.
Devo: Was in bed before they even started… man I must be getting old. There was a guy dressed in a Devo hat carrying around a disco ball. Apparently stuffed animals are not allowed at Street Scene, but a full-sized, mirrored disco ball is just fine.

I did attempt to take photos at Street Scene, however I was far away from the action and apparently not that great at taking photos. They all came out pretty blurry, oh well, I tried at least.


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