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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Show Review: Golden Hill Street Fair

Show Review
The Golden Hill Street Fair
Sponsored by the Golden Hill Community Development Corporation & Curated by SEZIO

Music by:
The Donkeys
Cuckoo Chaos
The Tree Ring
Little Deadman
Jeans Wilder
Family Wagon

Food by:
Stone Brewery
Stand & Deliver (MIHO Food Truck licensee)

Beer by:
Stone Brewery

Located @ 25th Street between B & C St.

   I am not speaking metaphorically nor exaggerating when I say that the Golden Hill Street Fair was a dream come true for me- like seeing a vision/dream realized.  The especially amazing thing about the Golden Hill Street Fair is that I literally had nothing to do with it, so it wasn't a stressful or annoying experience.  All the credit belongs to the Golden Hill Community Development Corporation, SEZIO and the bands and volunteers who made The Golden Hill Street Fair such a special event.  Congratulations to everyone- that was a job well done.

      The Golden Hill Street Fair was a major break-out event for the Golden Hill neighborhood, and joins the weekly Farmers Market- which is very decent (and much, much, much less annoying then more established area Farmers Markets) in elevating the Golden Hill neighborhood into the top tier of San Diego neighborhoods. (full disclosure, I own property in Golden Hill.)

  If you are reading this, and had anything to do with the organization of this event, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This event, together with the success of the "Three Nights At The Con" event at the Casbah during Comic Con, has managed to restore my faith in local music, the cultural equivalent of a religious awakening obtained after a lengthy and troublesome pilgrimage to Jerusalem as well as being similar to an epiphany I had in April of 20099- spurred my involvement with local record label Zoo Music.  (1)

  If I sound over-enthusiastic it's only because I (and my wife) (2) spent thousands of our own dollars and hundreds of hours trying to achieve what the Golden Hill Street Fair achieved this past weekend.  I failed when I tried, and this year's Golden Hill Street Fair was a rousing success, so it's really, really great to see.  It makes me think that I wasn't fundamentally wrong in trying to do what I  tried to do between 2005 and 2007  in throwing our own versions of what the Golden Hill Street Fair was this past weekend, just that our timing was terribly, terribly bad.

  Since I know how much work goes into putting on one of these events, I feel compelled to thank the people who planned and organized the event- specifically the Golden Hill Community Development Corporation and SEZIO.  Way to go!  Both organizations gained my respect just by their affiliation/planning of this event.

  Reviewing a Street Fair/Festival is a little more complex then reviewing a Concert, because the Audience experience is centered solely (or even primarily) around Music, even if it is a "draw."  The music is less of a main event in a festival environment, particularly at community level proceeding, so there is no reason to think that the Audience will treat the musical performers with the same attention level is they had paid to go to a club to listen to that Artist.  If you are at a Street Fair, you can't blame the Audience for "not paying attention" because they aren't there to "pay attention."

 The Golden Hill Street Fair rated high in all categories: musical presentation, food options, beer options and general ambiance.   Personally, I wouldn't have booked the same line up but it was certainly a line up that the Audience had no trouble appreciating.  Both The Donkeys and Cuckoo Chaos play accessible indie rock that complements the festival vibe.

  The food was first rate- I enjoyed a "Varsity Dog" from the MIHO Food truck, which is worth checking out if you can find them. It was an all beef hot dog with lamb chili, pickled jalapenos, spicy mayo and maybe some cheese mixed in?  Delicious.

  The beer garden was well priced- 3 beers for 10 bucks, BEAT THAT YOU LIVE NATION FUCKS.  The crowd was very mellow, with a refreshing mix of ages, ethnicities and income groups.

  A particularly nice touch was placing tables in the middle of 25th street and then adding little flower arrangements to each table- very little flower arrangements but it had a great over-all impact disproportionate  to the expense involved.  Whoever came up with that specific idea- the benches in the middle of the street with flower vases on top- deserves to be singled out for praise.

  Unfortunately I couldn't spend the entire day there because of family engagements, but I did manage to see Family Wagon and Jeans Wilder.  Family Wagon was as traditional a rock/metal/alt band as I've heard in ages.  There last fm profile says they've been around since 2008 but this was the first I'd seen of them.

 Jeans Wilder played with a traditional rock three piece behind him.  That is def. a better look for him then the solo look he was rocking last time he was out, but I'd imagine there is an increase in expense that goes along with the band.  I thought the set time was early for his relative Audience size- unless he had to go to work or something later in the day... Cuckoo Chaos only has 20k last fm plays vs. Jeans Wilder's 190 thousand plays- that makes Jeans Wilder about five times as big as Cuckoo Chaos.  The Donkeys and Jeans Wilder basically have the same number of listeners.

   Not that this crowd is a "Jeans Wilder" kind of crowd- they would def. have been more into the Vampire Weekend-esque styling of Cuckoo Chaos.  Jeans Wilder needs to buckle down and write some 50s style ballads so that the norms will give a shit about his music, then he can do all the expressive electronic noodling that he wants.  During his set, I saw hints of that, but my sense is that Jeans is essentially afraid to really go for it, and I understand why he wouldn't on the recently released Totally- but next record- he needs to go for it and give his Audience a reason to recommend his music to their friends i.e. "Hey Jeans Wilder has this song you would really like."

(1) I'm talking about the two Golden Hill Block Parties thrown in 2005 and 2006 as well as  Sessions Fest, 2006-2007- which was planned by my wife, not me. 

(2)  If you look back at the time-line of this blog, there is literally a four month gap between January and April of 2009.  December of 2008, this blog only had four posts ALL MONTH- all about crime.  Prior to the April 2009 Show Review of Wavves at the Echo, you have to go back to a Show Review of the Crocodiles playing the Casbah- published in August of 2008- to find an earlier show review.  That's basicallya  year that I was "out of the game."

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