PlaybackSTL Music Festival: Ssshhh. Apparently its a Secret!

Saturday we went to go checkout PlaybackSTL‘s music festival that took place in the Loop this weekend.  This was the most interesting thing I saw:


One might think its weird that you would go down to one of the more fun areas of St. Louis to see a music festival and you hear no music, see any signs of a festival, but instead just see a scary, chain smoking clown, but that’s apparently the way PlaybackSTL wanted it…a secret music festival.

The idea of the festival is a good one.  Get a bunch of bands, both local and outside, and get them to come play and in the process highlight both good new music, and some of the great University City venues.  However, they missed the part about letting people know about it.

Seriously.  I came to the Loop Saturday afternoon to see how it was going and check out some of their panels on different topics that could help young bands.  I knew it wasn’t a good sign when I got a parking spot with no problem.  It got worse from there.  The streets weren’t any more filled than a usual Saturday, and to my shock…no stage, no bands playing outside, no music at all.  None.  So I head in to Cicero’s, where the panels are to take place.  Once again I have to check my phone to see if this is the right day/time. There were maybe 10 people in the place and the panels were tucked away on that back stage with the door closed no less.


As you can see, the panels weren’t even close to full, despite the streets being full people that had no idea any of this was going on!

I don’t understand this at all.  Why bother having a music festival in the Loop if you aren’t going to bother using that great street atmosphere?  I asked around and I heard the same thing from a few people: The organizers thought a free, outdoor stage would take away from wristband sales.

Yes, thats a moronic way to look at it, and if thats how you feel, go do the damn thing in St. Charles, but whatever at least there was some sort of thought put in to that decision.  What about the decision to not promote the damn thing at all?  No one had an answer for that, but I did talk to several people that had no idea whatsoever that the festival was going on!  Well done.  To make matters worse, the best show of the night at the Pageant, featuring several great local acts, wasn’t even a part of the PlaybackSTL line up!

I’m not taking away anything from the bands, which I hear many of them felt guilted in to playing, rather than actually wanting to, and I’m not taking anything away from the panelists.  They all did great work, its just too bad PlaybackSTL didn’t give them the support and audience they deserved.

Last year’s attempt was much better.  There were people in the streets, a stage next to Vintage Vinyl, and a feeling of an actual festival.  This year it felt like a secret club meeting.

I do hope they do this again, and I hope they do it right the third time around.