For the first time in over 15 years, the band Neutral Milk Hotel reunited for a tour in the fall of 2013. The announcement, promoted by the band solely through a post on their website, came very much out of left field and had fans young and old scrambling for tickets. Though promotion by the band was essentially nonexistent, publicity through music blogs and social media spread like wildfire. Ticket sales began in May and most venues sold out immediately online. In fact, the band ended up adding more shows in the same places in order to give more ticket buyers a fair chance.
Tickets were only priced around $15, which only drove demand up further. They were not scaled by seat, as it was general admission, so all attendees paid the same price at the outset. Also, tickets could only be obtained on the night of the performance at will call to prevent reselling. The band seemed to put a lot of effort into making it an authentic experience, rejecting the past ten years of technological progression by prohibiting cell phone photography.
After selling out approximately one second after I managed to purchase a ticket, it is fair to say the concert was very well-attended! All ages could be found in the audience, though most people were either in their teens or twenties. There was seating available in the balcony area with a nice view for anyone who could not stand for the whole concert, which is definitely a plus for disabled or older viewers. From the minute the band entered the stage, you could feel the audience shifting into a really surreal moment. I have a feeling no one, including me, ever really expected to see them live, so the emotional response of everyone in the audience was incredible. Almost everyone sang along, and thanks to no-phones rule, there was minimal distracting screens being held in the air. The entire experience was unique and ethereal, and I have a hard time thinking there was anyone in the audience that wouldn’t go again.
The Italian Film Festival was a film festival at the Sottile Theatre on George Street that was put on by professors within the Italian department. Many films were screened throughout this four day film festival including some Q&A’s from some of the directors that flew into Charleston to attend. This was an amazing way for the audience to be able to connect with the people who made the films, and ask various questions that went on in the audience’s mind throughout the films. It also allowed the crowd to have a much better understanding on why the director wanted to show what was being portrayed of Italy, the ugly and the beautiful.
Overall, the film festival went fairly well. The largest portion of the audience was college students, but it also included some diversity from others that were visiting Charleston at the time. The biggest flaw that I would change would simply be the promotion to draw a more diverse crowd to get people to attend besides those college students who were required to go, and to have a more even spread of diversity throughout the audience. I had a great time attending the festival though, and I really enjoyed watching the documentaries.
Built to Spill marked their second consecutive year performing at the Music Farm on October 29, 2013, with opening acts Genders and Slam Dunk. Built to Spill replicated their textured studio sounds with their knack for layering guitars on top of another to create the complex sound of their jangled guitar pop. I enjoyed this concert slightly more than last year’s, not because the band sounded less perfect last year, but because I knew more of their songs and the group played more songs from my two favorite albums, There’s Nothing Wrong With Love and Perfect From Now On. The encore provided a wonderful climax to the show, with lead singer/guitarist Doug Martsch providing a hilarious Morrissey impersonation during the band’s rendition of The Smith’s “How Soon is Now” and ending with not only my favorite Built to Spill song, but also my favorite song of the 90’s, Car.
One of the things I found interesting about this concert compared to their concert in 2012 was how much smaller the crowd was. Last year the crowd was packed, rendering anyone at the show essentially immobile, as opposed to how you could make your way from the back of the crowd to almost the front of it without too much effort. Looking at Mccarthy’s four P’s of marketing mix, at least three of the P’s were surely consistent with last year’s production: the price ($20) was the same, the product was still Built to Spill, and the venue was the same (Music Farm). Because I am not familiar with the ins and outs of Music Farm’s specific promotional strategy of the show this year, I cannot say this was the flaw in marketing the show, but I did notice that neither the Post & Courier nor Charleston City Paper included the same brief description of the band that was included with last year’s concert. The event date’s proximity to Halloween might have played a factor in the smaller crowd, as Charleston tends to take “Halloweekend” fairly seriously. If you’re a fan of bands that play with more than two guitars on stage or a fan of the lighter side of 90’s rock, I would definitely recommend seeing these guys if they ever come back through Charleston. Doug Martsch is my personal favorite guitarist and creates an absolute spectacle live.
Had a lot of fun at Theater 99 last night for “Laugh for a Lincoln” night. The first sketch was called “Big Dictionary” and featured two standup artists picking words to improvise off of at random from a big dictionary. The sketch was witty and exciting. The next set, called “Moral Fixation” was to me less entertaining and seemingly more targeted at an older crowd. I was fairly bored by the end of their routine but still had a good night. The crowd in attendance was of all ages 18+. It was impressive to see a show near sold out on a Wednesday night.
Tickets were only 5$ and could be bought in advance online or at the door. The show sells out frequently so I would recommend purchasing in advance if you’re set on making a show, especially on the weekends. The stage was vibrant and overall the show was worth the entirety of my 5$. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys laughing.
The Who’s “Tommy” was a fantastic musical with flashing lights, choreographed group numbers. “Tommy” tells the story of a young boy who loses his senses of sight, hearing, and speech when he witnessed his father shoot his mother’s lover. As the story goes on, his parents try everything to help him regain his senses to no avail. Throughout his adolescence he developed a knack for pinball, which helps him gain popularity. The turning point in the play, is when his mother smashes the mirror in which he viewed the crime. After she smashes the mirror Tommy regains all of his senses.
I thought that The Who’s“Tommy” was a great musical. Somethings could have used some work. There were a lot of people on the stage, which made the story line hard to follow. There were a lot of moving boxes, which made the stage seem a little cluttered. Overall it was a great play. The majority of the audience members were college students, as a lot of classes require you to attend school sponsored plays.
On Saturday, November 16th, I attended the bi-annual JAIL BREAK Arts Festival in the Old Charleston City Jail. After being told I should attend the event, I was excited to be a part of such a unique experience. The festival, featuring music, art works, comedy, and theatre, was incredible. However, I found that what time you go to the event makes a big difference. For example, my friends and I went pretty close to it’s opening at 4 o’clock, where we were surrounded by a lot of families and pre-teens. This audience shifted throughout the night, yielding a more mature, cooler audience by 7/8pm. For anyone planning to attend this annual event in the future, I would suggest considering what time you go pretty thoroughly beforehand. Also, take into account it’s close proximity to a not-so-great part of town when arranging transportation.
As far as the venue itself, the old jail made for an awesome setting. Seeing exhibitions and comedy/theatre performances in preserved rooms of the prison made for an engaging and historical experience. I was, however, unimpressed with the scale of the jail, thinking it would be a lot larger…maybe I just watch too much TV. Either way, the event was killer and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. This year’s turnout was one of the best that they’ve ever had, so I’m sure that they will knock the next event out of the park as well.
On October 23, I attended Poetry Night put on by the Cougar Activities Board at Kudu. Basically, at this event College of Charleston students sign up to read some of their poetry, then a panel of judges (but not that formal) choose the five or six “best” poets. These poeple then have to write a poem about a silly or strange topic submitted by audience members (each poet has a different topic) in about 10 minutes. They then read their poems to the audience and a winner is selected. I went to a Poetry Night last year and it was great, so I was excited to go to this one. Unfortunately, plenty of poetry-lovers showed up, but not that many poets. Only five students signed up to read, so about twenty minutes in there was no one left to read. This was obviously not expected, and we took an awkward break, waiting for more people to sign up to read. Luckily, a few extra people let their friends talk them into reading their poetry off of their phones, some of the poets who already read then read additional poems, and one girl even sang a couple of her songs (a nice comeback). Since so few people read, the judges said all of them had to option to read again. I particularly enjoyed the special-topic-poem written by (and VERY well performed by) Derek Berry. Yes, it was so good that I remember his name. His topic was masturbation, and his entire poem was about “him writing poetry” but was actually a giant innuendo for masturbation. It was brilliant. (As was the food and coffee!)
From a management perspective, everything ran rather smoothly, however, I think the event could have been better advertised, particularly in regard to what exactly the event was. I could tell CAB used the same flyers from last year, they just changed the date. That seemed a little lazy to me, like they expected everyone to know exactly what their Poetry Night is like. I remember going for the first time last year and being completely surprised by how they ran the night. I feel like CAB should put a mini description on their flyers similar to what they have on the Facebook page; not everyone knows to check, or feels like checking online for this information. If CAB had done this, maybe more people would have shown up to share their poetry, and not just for the free food and drinks. If anyone is interested in going, it’s a really fun experience and I definitely recommend going! And read some poetry! There should be another Poetry Night next semester.
As a veteran of the New Belgium Clips Festival, I can say with certainty that it gets better and better every year. Aside from the good eats and drinks, the main attraction for me is the surprising mixture of inspirational, comical, and informative short films that are shown under the stars in one of Charleston’s most beautiful locations, Marion Square. I think the whole festival is very well organized for its young age and accomplishes a lot in just a couple of hours. Not only do the films speak to the audience, but New Belgium also sponsors raffle giveaways, local food vendors, and even brings in the Charleston Green Fair to keep the festival as environmentally friendly as possible. It was a great opportunity to forget you were in the middle of a busy city – the ability to just stretch out in the grass and enjoy good food, good people, and good films is a rare something that I look forward to every year.
In our class discussion on economics, we talked about ticket scaling and how it affects the demand for the event. Based on observations at the Clips Festival, it is a smart move on their part to forgo an overall admission charge for the festival. It was obvious that many audience members – who weren’t broke, underage college students like myself – were much more willing to indulge and spend their money on the delicious food and craft beers provided by New Belgium. This allows them to both raise awareness of their relatively new brewing company as well as raise a significant amount of funds in support of a local non-profit, Charleston Moves. I would recommend this event to anyone and everyone as one of my favorite things to do in Charleston. It’s a fun twist on the Farmer’s Market that happens every Saturday afternoon in Marion Square, and a must-see for both locals and visitors.
On November 16, I attended Jail Break at the Old City Jail. After attending last year, I absolutely had to go again this year. Within the jail, there are displays of artists’ work as well as people performing interpretive dance throughout the hallways. In the backyard, there was live music, concessions, and dance performances. All of the artists were standing by their work to answer any questions that the viewers may have had. One of the artists even walked up to me and asked me what my interpretation of his work was. I loved the fact that I could converse with the artists, hear about their inspiration, and tell them what I thought.
This event was very well attended, but as it got later and the bands started to come out and perform, it seemed a bit crowded. Because the event spanned for seven hours, it would be hard to put a limit on how many tickets should be for sale, considering most people aren’t going to stay the whole time. However, an excellent management aspect was the fact that they kept a list of people who ordered tickets online. When I purchased my ticket, I never received the email to print it, but I was to get in because my name was on the list. After attending two years in a row, I would certainly recommend this event to anyone. With so many different mediums, everyone can find something at Jail Break that they would enjoy.