there’s seldom one reason when acting out like amy & I do… but the answer I have when asked WTF is/was WTF FEST is… Something out of nothing, meaning the troupe we had assembled were hardcore underground artists, but in the real, above ground world are zeros, nothings and no-names (excluding dave archer). – seldom is this kind of art and expression broadcast to the world… so, what we did was make something out of nothing and something that couldn’t be ignored.
WTF fest was more of a subculture, sculpture… amy and I played more ‘creatives’ than business folk… this was an expression over an exploitation. had this been an evening of jazz with john lennons pal, john sinclair reading and speaking, well, that would have been profitable.
I personally would like to think of WTF FEST as underground and an art event for the sake of doing an underground art thing… a meeting of the minds, a chance to try and take obscure artists and catapult them into the mainstream, even if only for a second. If these artists could touch the hearts and minds of the masses, I felt they could tip the scales, they could help evolve the conversation, to spark thought in those who might see things different from the artist and philosophers on this tour… or just make fun and have fun and present art for the sake of presenting art.
It was an attempt to do something different… to bring the old and young together.
It was something the wife and I did because we had to, because the politics of the day and especially in an election year drive us nuts, so we do nutty things.
I was pretty happy with how WTF FEST turned out – One of a handful of surprises was the sparse attendance. Now, we didn’t expect droves of folks and we understand the nature of events, and what we did bring in was ok, it was about what we originally planned on, after all – this was a glorified coffee house poetry thing so anything over a dozen folks would have been a-ok – IF it had just been amy, myself and john sinclair… With the added artists and a fuckin’ tesla coil used for live painting, we did expect more, after all, you’d think each artist we toured with, and the local artists we played with would have had some sort of draw…. most did not.
I’m not sure the other artists on the tour understood what a favor we were doing them – not sure they had a realistic view of the WTF situation – pretty sure they fell for our hype. I really thought I was working with illusion builders and not ticket buyers… as I’ve said prior, WTF fest was a glorified coffee house poetry night – the original plan was to just bring john sinclair into town and hit as many coffee houses and galleries as we could… we would m.c. and show short bits of our upcoming film, read from our upcoming book and tell the tale of how we met john sinclair and why we included him in our film and book and do a brief Q&A with john before/after his set. We decided to share the opportunity with a handful of other underground and lesser know artists (again, dave archer excluded)… we did this to not only make a bigger and better show, we honestly wanted to play and promote each and everyones greatness – it was important for us to help give a voice to folks we feel have something to say and an event for other creatives to gather and create.
my thoughts on WTF FEST and lessons learned and re-learned…
– damn glad we had two successful kickstarters that did support 80% of this event.
– wish I knew why the shows weren’t as attended as most thought… the lack of folks seemed to shock most involved because the hype/promo was there and, we had the show to back it up.
– sure glad I did this for fun and not profit.
– never trust a junkie (a lesson I seem to have to re-learn every 5 years)
– most of my mistakes came from listening to others… when you’re in charge, think and act, don’t ask – everyone has their own greed/motivation for being there – as the promoter/producer you need to make cuts without the guidance of the greedy and self-involved.
– I really wish I would have cancelled the first astoria show… I knew it was going to be a nightmare once I saw that the sound guy was the husband of a local artist who told me amy & I we were “trying to control the local art community” by doing WTF FEST.
– the artist who you are doing a favor by adding to the bill, the one with NO draw – they are usually the biggest problem, the exception to that is the rare moment when the artist/band you’re helping does more and helps out more than anyone or anything else (thanx brent durand).
– next time, interview the artist you might want to play/tour with – ask the important questions like ‘why’ – find out their true intent – if it isn’t in line with your own, if it is solely of a self-interest/greed angle – well, fuck them.
– don’t roll with artists who need to bring their girlfriend/boyfriend – a tour isn’t a party – if they’re not working, they don’t tour. this includes those who want to help – you don’t need help, you need workers and you probably don’t need too many with an underground art event.
– don’t experiment with marketing. – what I’ve found is the masses don’t want anything out side of their box – love vs. hate did nothing but keep the ones who want hate away and the ones who are giving love afraid.
– expect the consumer not to get it. ‘it’ being the problems, the stuff you have to cut due to what ever, the nature of events being what they are — live and not plastic. so, if you cut something expect them to act like they bought a trinket and to complain… they’re out there… the ones who say they want fun and frolic but who are really only there to bitch and complain.
– don’t work with friends or family – unless you’re looking to thin your herd. you will loose a couple.
– never take help from artists who are showing signs of animosity towards you or the shows outcome or both. we lost a TON of merch due to water damage because we let one of the troupe ‘help us’ – they helped us destroy maybe $200 bux in booklets and props. these ‘mistakes’ happen if shit’s not happy – find another way if you can… maybe ask UPS to pick it up and ship it home or, take as much control of the help as you can – in this instance, I should have packed the truck and tarped and wrapped the boxes myself.
– if you do a show and no one shows – punch the first mother fuckin’ artist who asks for money right in the face – that will let the rest know you are pissed off at the stupid question of money when there is obviously no money to be had and, it also shows you’re pissed off you worked with a bunch of artists who have no idea how to put asses in the seats, who can’t promote/sell themselves. these wanna bes are relics of yesteryear anyway, so don’t worry about losing them as a pal just be happy the lead weight is gone. any artist who needs someone else to do their lifting, who needs management and so on isn’t worth their fucking salt.
– always be thankful of those artist who try, who work it, who go the extra mile – no money to pay them?? give them an I.O.U. – trade them art, make sure you never lose them as a pal and offer to help them any way you can. dingo & olive rootbeer come to mind.
– don’t let other promoters hijack your show, belittle the bands you have, ask you to cut acts you have and in general take the show over to the point you lose your show – it happened the last night in seattle and tokyo deathstare’s set was cut short. I was asked to cut the band and had even considered it and thought I had asked them not to show – looking through my emails I see I wrote them a note, sent it to amy and told her I just couldn’t do it – I LIKED the band as did amy – we’re metal heads and I guess the folks in seattle were not.
– understand philosophical differences are the hardest thing to overcome – it you’re a band full of christians – don’t expect an easy tour if you tour with a pack of atheists.
my review of the performers and events:
best event: the second show in astoria at kala/hipfish – it was just the wtf crew – not local artists (william ham was/is local, but he did portland as well and we consider him part of the WTF family) – the show was fun and the folks at the show really dug it… perfect sized venue, perfect everything.
worse event: second show in seattle – the local acts were great, the WTF crew was all angered up, I believe because there wasn’t too many folks at the venue – it was the only venue amy & I showed our films and spoke – albeit because I had to ask the very moody and insecure esmerelda strange to leave the stage and venue after her hissy fit over what I still don’t get – nothing worse that an ingrate needing a bad time – I mean really, it was the last show and not that many folks were there – to act up is just silly… she was a cancer and in a foul mood for most of the shows, why she stayed only she knew, why I didn’t ask her to leave sooner, I regret… this is a person who just quit drinking and getting high and smoking cigs and I think she might have been on the wrong tour – we all got high and drank and smoked cigs and tried to have fun – in spite of unfunny… yea, I have a list of folks I’d never work with again and old esmerelda strange is at the top.
best performer: this is a three way tie – dave archer/john sinclair/ugly shyla – these three were solid professionals and put on a great show… I can’t say enough good things about their acts. I do have to admit here, the tesla coil and dave archer were by far the one act to fill the room and the act all in attendance wanted to see, at each venue the room would fill when dave and the tesla coil hit the stage. I’d work with two out of three performers again – fuck ever working with sinclair again – the old prick was such an old prick the day he left. I found him to be an ingrate, arrogant, rude and way out of line and, worst of all, everything he talks shit about – at the end of the day he showed himself to be everything he rails against… his only concern was his money… even though we made a deal the night before to give him what we could and we’d pay the rest later and he agreed, he still felt the need to rub it in, to continue to harass us – and why, because the fucking kickstarter cash hadn’t cleared yet and there wasn’t any money to give him until it did clear.
it’s the all too common tale of not meeting your idols, as they rarely live up to the illusion that you idolize – even though I’ve been lucky to meet some very solid and true to their word/intent mother fuckers – I don’t see john as that.
biggest regret: giving up our creative spot on stage to promote and produce this event for the rest of the troupe – if I could do it over I would definitely give less of myself and expect more of those who want to play along… probably the biggest issue I have is doing for others who can’t do for themselves – those kind of folks aren’t really looking to contribute as much as they’re looking for a daddy.
all in all, I am proud of what amy & I accomplished – it will influence others to do more and it’s a great sub-layer for our book and film release this fall.
apologies to those supporters who felt slighted that we didn’t do the austin show, or that we didn’t make the streaming happen, or for another reason that was out of our control or out of our reach due to limited resources. if you feel that ill about anything, let us know and we’ll make good the best we can… or harbor silent animosity and let it eat you alive!