Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ignite Bend 4

Last week I welcomed the humbling opportunity to deliver an IgniteBend presentation at Bend's Tower Theater. The topic I spoke on? The experience of seeing one hundred different bands perform live in 2009. The Ignite format consists of a five minute PowerPoint presentation with 20 slides that change automatically every 15 seconds whether the presenter is ready for it or not. No animation... no gimmicks... just quick bits of information displayed on creative slides with verbal skills that hopefully do the topic justice.

Once news came at around 2pm the day of the show, that the Theater had sold out the event... the desire to puke set in. Holding only a little more than 400 people, the Tower Theater doesn't fill up with what one might call a giant crowd. Still, a bunch of people ready to react to any mistake in your presentation can jostle the nerves a bit. Practicing the Apollo Ono stress relieving yawn for most of the afternoon and evening was a surprise help in getting my lunch to stay in its intended location. For most of the two weeks leading up to the event, I had pictured myself getting completely psyched out for the necessary five minutes and letting my pumped up nerves take over. The puking feeling was not initially something I had prepared for.

The first step up to the stage must have been sprinkled with magic dust as stepping on it erased all nausea and the energy of the crowd pushed out all nervousness. Before I knew it... the five minutes were up and I was Dirk Diggler karate kicking and bowing to thank the audience for listening. Having covered topics ranging from average price per performance to favorite venues and falling in Love with Emily Haines... one topic came up unintentionally and I'd like to clarify it.

Early in the presentation I mentioned that rather than sit here in Bend, Oregon and see whatever bands happened to come through town as my avenue to 100 bands in 2009, I did some traveling to assure that my goal was met by seeing bands of a certain quality. In doing so, I may have inadvertently insulted the local brew pub, Silver Moon. Becoming Bend's only consistent venue for quality live music, Silver Moon utilizes a makeshift stage in the corner of the somewhat tiny establishment to lure such acts as Amber Rubarth, Vetiver, The White Buffalo, and Igor & The Red Elvises to town. While some shows can be down right uncomfortable because of the space limitations (summer shows are the worst as Silver Moon lacks sufficient air conditioning and can be completely miserable), others feature performances by some of the brilliant and aforementioned artists. Yet there are still shows with just your typical run of the mill local bands that don't really inspire me to go downtown and pay the typical $5+ cover required to catch a glimpse of someone who sounds like a million better and similar artists available. Not all places that book live music can expect to hit home runs with every act they put on the calendar and certainly not a place that struggles to find room for a full band and concert goers. Even the prominent Portland venue Doug Fir Lounge has brought in bands I certainly could have gone without seeing, but sat through in order to get to the pay off main act. Let's face it... even the Rose Garden brings in acts like The Jonas Brothers, who you couldn't pay me to go see.

What made maters worse regarding my Silver Moon statement was that they were a sponsor of the Ignite Bend event and the owners may have been in the audience. I attempted to reel back in my borderline slam of their establishment and even pointed out some of the great shows I've been to there. But bottom line... music and especially live music is about personal taste. I wouldn't expect Silver Moon to provide our town with bands or artists that entice me to remove money from my wallet 100% of the time and I certainly don't expect it from venues that are designed for the sole purpose of facilitating live performances. I do believe that Silver Moon continues to be the best beacon for live music lovers in Bend and I commend them for their effort in sustaining that. But I will probably never buy in to every show they schedule. A stance I take with every venue in the Pacific Northwest.

If you would like to watch myself and all of the presenters from Ignite Bend 4, travel over to and follow the link on the homepage or click "Watch Ignite Bend" from the menu. Several 'burning' ideas from Central Oregon were shared as Ignites all over the country continue to serve as a place for people to spill their passions out for all to see.