Guest Blog from Dave Klyman Fest: The Further Pursuit of Musical Stupidity
People in bands are really pretty stupid. They'll plan a route that includes driving five hundred miles to play a show to five people just to (sometimes) get paid twenty-five dollars. They'll pay for gas out of pocket halfway through that drive with money they don't have because of last night's show. This goes into the bottomless tank of a terminal van, on a hopelessly in-the-red tour, to get through another town no one’s ever heard of, in an economy seemingly always on the verge of collapse. They'll quit jobs, lose girlfriends and boyfriends, and miss major family events. So where's the pay off? For some, there’s barely or just enough to keep it going. For the majority there isn't a pay off at all and burnout/implosion is inevitable.
Then bands start getting a little older, their members relatively smarter (stupid members kicked out). Members quit or the unit disbands. Those left stop aggressively chasing whatever musical dream might have been. Tours, if they still happen, become shorter, their routings more sensibly sequential. The term “guarantee” enters the regular vernacular. Most importantly, bands start learning how to say No. No to what had previously lead only to near or complete breakdowns of equipment, vehicles, and minds. They even say No to good friends and supporters who have been good to them in the past because it just doesn't make enough sense and profit. Bands laugh about these things like they're ancient history instead of just a few years ago. These are the bands that are able to keep it together despite work, family, and other aspects of life that musical pursuits are generally detrimental to. Then there are those that are all but broken up but still, for fun, one or two weekends a year, get together at bars and play the old songs to their friends, wives or husbands.
This could describe any band in any genre. But when it comes to what happens in Gainesville, Florida around Halloween every year, the focus is on punk, metal, indie, and the countless sub-genres therein. A mixture of bands who used to be pretty stupid and bands who don't yet know how stupid they are. Perhaps this is harsh? But, hey, anyone who can't look back on their younger years without laughing at the plethora of things they did wrong probably wasted a whole lot of time. They sure don't have any interesting stories.
Every year, in honor of that sentiment, bands from all over the world, from all sections of that intelligence graph climb back in the old van, the rented van, the car, and a lot of planes. They shed everything they learned about not being stupid. Thirty years old, full time job, wife, husband... Time to go drive twenty hours or a few days to play one show. Time to fly across the country or across the planet to play one show. Maybe two if there's an open house show. Or maybe your one show is that house show. Forty years old, Fifty? Who cares, it's Fest time. Time for that once-a-year weekend bar show to be played to hundreds of friends instead of just the old neighborhood crew. Time to book a week or two long tour that'll be lousy because hardly anyone goes to punk shows in the surrounding areas the week leading up to Fest. Why? Because it's freakin' FEST time. You can go back to being smart once the weekend is over. Hopefully you don't have to be at work too early on Monday. If so, oh well. Guess planning a show that far from home on a Sunday night was really pretty stupid.