Since birth, Louisville has been my home. I have long been influenced and shaped by the culture and music of this river city. I decided to remain despite the allure of bigger places with promises of greater opportunities. I love that in Louisville, you can have a dream and make it happen. This why I was disappointed when I attended November’s Cropped Out Festival.
A couple months ago, The Boy found out that one of his favorites, David Yow, was coming with his band, Scratch Acid, and headlining the festival. I know Yow’s music with The Jesus Lizard better, but I am aware that he puts on a great show regardless, because the ferocious, excitable, impish man that he is always comes through. For Cropped Out, this seemed like a huge win. A relatively big name to help sell tickets is awesome for any promoter of a small, eclectic festival. When we hosted Terrastock, we were excited to have Simply Saucer, Mono, and Georgia and Ira of Yo La Tengo, amongst others. Terrastock was different in that it had no headliner, and our poster didn’t advertise any names.
When Cropped Out advertised Scratch Acid as headliner (large print, top of the poster and all), we were pleased to get to see them. Around 11:30 p.m., half an hour late, their show started. The festival had been allowed to go until 3 a.m. the previous two nights, but this was Sunday. Call me Grandma, but there comes a time in life that 3 a.m. is personal time to kick it in your jammies. I love live music, but if I had gone to any of the previous 3 a.m. debacles, I might have thrown a chair.
How the hell did the organizers let the schedule get so off-track? When you produce a show, you get a stage manager. Schedule your bands 15-20 minutes for sound check and get the show on the road. During the first night of Terrastock, our schedule hiccup unfairly shortened sets for later bands. That was the last scheduling mishap we allowed. The Boy, assisted by previous Terrastock organizers, made sure the stages ran on time. Doing this allows your bands to do their jobs and not risk what happened Sunday at Cropped Out. It also allows your fans to see a show in its entirety.
The problem with Sunday apparently had roots early in the day, when an alarm issue alerted the cops to a possible break-in. Poor Yow ended up in handcuffs. I’m sure this is why the police had Cropped Out on their radar. Here’s the thing: On a Sunday after midnight, to have a show in a residential area is a bad idea for anyone involved. Not good for the band who “sold” the tickets. It’s not good for the fans having to leave down $20 for an incomplete set of tunes. It also was not good for the organizers, because it left them open to criticisms that were wholly preventable.
“The Man” shut the festival down, mid-Scratch Acid. The responsibility lies, in my opinion, with the persons who failed to manage the show. It is not the fault of the police who responded to a justified noise complaint. When they leave their station, tax dollars are being spent, and you had best believe they are not going to make excuses for a few dozen Scratch Acid fans. Why the late schedule when only three bands played that day? From a fan’s perspective — a fan with firsthand similar experience — the logical explanation lies in the lack of forethought.
To the person who yelled “Occupy” during the premature show ending, Cropped Out does not deserve the association with a movement to rectify the political and financial situations that landed this country in the midst of a deep recession, one that makes the $20 spent on Cropped Out more than just pocket change. The behavior of this person and those encountered after making my initial criticism reflects poorly on a festival with amazing opportunities to bring unique talent to the city. I hope that next year is better.
Erica Rucker is a freelance weirdo, writer and professional wedding/portrait photographer at eElaine Photography.