The Santa Fe Bandstand has always seemed like a great idea on paper. Tons of local and national acts descend upon the Plaza for several weeks of varied and exciting music. Awesome, right? Mostly. Y’see, while the annual event is totally fun and totally free, the downside is that most of the bands are meant to serve either families or those over the age of 35, and teens are kind of left to twist in the wind feeling like they’ve been abandoned by yet another Santa Fe musical event.
Now I’m not saying that Outside In, its founder David Lescht (rest in peace, sir) or the many people involved with making the bandstand happen are somehow anti-youth. I have, however, been attending the event whenever I can, and I’ve come to the conclusion that there simply is no reason why a punk band or a metal band or a hip-hop group or even a dubstep DJ—since the kids seem to like that wub-wub so much—couldn’t be peppered in here and there.
I suppose one might make the argument that tensions could run high. In fact, a bajillion years ago, during a community event on the Plaza, The Battle’s End (one of the best post-rock/punk bands to ever have existed in Santa Fe) was asked to vacate the stage after organizers learned its members had planned to hang an upside-down American flag on the stage. I remember a definite feeling of unease between the local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club and we Warehouse 21-ers, and as far as I know, that was the last time a band with the potential to cause questions or discussion has been invited to play the Plaza. As this wasn’t part of the summertime series, I won’t blame Outside In. I will note that there must be plenty of us out there who would love to head to the Plaza and see rock ’n’ roll that’s a little more relevant than whatever members of Cracker happened to be free.
There are obvious exceptions to the rule. Todd & the Fox, for example, played a killer show recently that seemed to please both young people and the parents they were attempting to avoid. There’s something about that banjo duo that just grooves, and frontman Todd Lovato’s killer slide guitar action was a sight to behold indeed. Similarly, Beatles cover act Maxwell Edison and the Mojo Filters totally killed it the other night. Those Beatles vocal harmonies are no joke, friends, and these boys nailed ’em. I understand that it’s pretty popular for today’s kids to hate on The Beatles, but there is no denying the intense energy felt across all age groups when these dudes closed the set with “Twist and Shout.”
The bandstand comes to a close in a few short weeks, and while there is nothing that can be done to add more youthful acts to the roster this year, there are still a few performances that might be interesting to you all-agers out there. Legendary local musician (and all-around handsome dude) Andy Primm brings his pop/rock outfit Swordfish to the Plaza on July 26. Local bluesman Alex Maryol headlines that night and, last we heard, homeboy has expanded his horizons to include a more rock ’n’ roll attitude. Imperial Rooster takes the stage during the evening performance on August 6, and while the band is certainly steeped in country/Americana-ness, its members are all pretty punk rock at heart, and that “fuck the system” mentality is pretty present in their weird-ass songs.
It’s important to understand that I’m not saying this annual event is in any way bad. I do, however, ask its organizers to look beyond the acts that play every single year and try to get some music in for the teens. There is an absolute disconnect between the adults and the kids in this town, and showing those angsty youngsters that they’ve been taken into consideration would go a long way in bridging that gap.