This is our big local music issue, and we’re trying to highlight as many locals as possible, so what better, uh, thing to dedicate a column than the 2014 Santa Fe Bandstand? Indeed, for as long as most of us can remember, summertime in Santa Fe has heralded the weekslong event that features more local and touring acts than one might shake a stick at and, for the most part, it has been good.
Now in its 12th installment, this year's series includes performances from local greats like math-rock act As In We (June 23), anti-folk quartet The Bus Tapes (July 17) and country punks The Imperial Rooster (August 18), not to mention great touring acts like bluegrass legend Peter Rowan (June 29) and so much more that my word count would be obliterated if I were to mention them all. Admittedly, the whole thing sounds great, and yet there is something kind of off about the series.
Let me just say right away that I always have a great time when I attend the series and that there are no problems with this year's lineup per se. Previously, I've said anything about the Bandstand ranging from, "Thing's killer," to "This shit needs variety!" and while this year's festivities certainly try to open up genre-wise to a certain degree, it's still a little sad that As In We and The Strange is the most exciting night of music for young people found within the series. Oh, don't get me wrong—both of these bands are full of talented musicians and have great songs and rock hard and look cool and all that—but amid promises from Outside In Productions director, Michael Delheim, that there would be an emphasis on distancing the series from the same old-same old, the sad truth is that this year's Bandstand looks to be like the same damn stuff it has always been, and that includes not a whole lot for music fans under the age of 50.
On top of that, we can throw in the pseudo-controversy of the newly chained-off-by-the-city bandstand stage (something about how there is sometimes puke left on the thing…I don't really think it's a big deal), all this busker hullabaloo and all that boo-hoo for millenials talk, and we've got a high-class problem here. If the ultimate goal of the Bandstand is to provide weeks upon weeks of entertainment for the entirety (and I emphasize entirety) of Santa Fe's populace, why are so many of the nights aimed at the old folks or occupied by bands who can be seen in bars almost always?
To their credit, organizers have added two weeks to the series, promised exciting food trucks will be on hand and have expanded performances to the Southside of town. Those kick off on July 5 with Little Leroy & His Pack of Lies.
"Of the 102 acts this year, 50 of them are either brand new or haven't played the Bandstand in the past three years [and] this works out to a 49 percent 'new' band presence," Delheim tells SFR. "As for the usual suspects who seem to return year after year, it's often the case that they storm our beaches with sponsors in hand."
Delheim points to the free model of the Bandstand as dependent on said sponsors and adds that if a band approaches organizers with a backer already lined up, they're more likely to gain attention. As for programming aimed at the youth, he says, "We don't receive a lot of applications from young bands," and that "I think for a lot of younger Santa Feans, Santa Fe Bandstand is perceived as a location for losers."
This is a pretty good point, kids. No more whining if you can't be bothered to fill out an application or even try. Additionally, last year's Meow Wolf night with A Hawk and a Hacksaw ranked 71 out of 87 in Outside In's "Best of Bandstand" survey. So maybe the problem isn't so much the Bandstand itself, but that whole Santa Fe thing where people complain and then don't take simple steps to accomplish the things they say they'd like. Regardless, this year I'm gonna drink so much beer and watch As In We and like, hopefully impress this one girl named Sarah I like.