Three times a year it comes and goes, and every season I praise the values of this little festival of sorts. You've heard the sales pitch before...four nights of music for $10, 40 bands over the same span and a chance to catch our rising stars of tomorrow!
And while it's all true, there's still more to the Dirty Carny Sideshow than meets the eye.
This weekend, Dirty Carny is back, moving to Plan B and mixing things up with the lineup and arrangements as well as the location. After all, this is the 9th installment of this little mini-festival, and you've got to keep things fresh.
With that in mind, I thought I'd take a glance at the show from a different perspective this time around, getting some input from organizer Matt "Lip" Stevens and seeing what local musicians think of the event.
You see, there's a lot that goes into putting on a four day event with nearly 40 bands. More than your standard three band evening, so there must be some motivation behind putting on a show like this, especially if you're doing it repeatedly.
"There were really two reasons that I was inspired to do this," Stevens said. "First was for the concert goer to get as much music and see as many bands as possible for one price. You get four days of music with one wristband for only $10.
"The other and main reason, though, was to provide a way for local bands to network and get to know each other," he continued. "I've got a database of local bands in Tulsa that are active and out playing, at least on a semi-regular basis. I've got 287 bands on my list, however accurate and up to date it is and most of them don't even know each other. Usually there are clusters of friends -- 10 bands here and 10 bands there, and a couple of those clusters may know each other, but there are a lot more bands out there.
"Not only is this a chance to play, but it's a way to network," said Stevens. "You can come and hang out, meet people, exchange numbers and get more gigs."
And it's about more than just networking with bands. It's about networking with the fans as well.
"Two years ago the guys in Vito 9 Fingers took advantage of the weekend and set up their merchandise all weekend," Stevens said. "They sold as much merch each night as they did the night they played and I thought 'Hey, these guys are getting it.' They did it festival style, like Cornerstone, and made themselves visible and got to know people all weekend long."
Although that might be the goal, not everyone may see the big picture, however. With that in mind, I called a veteran of the music scene, bassist Paul Cristiano of RadioRadio (who tentatively plays Friday night, October 3) to get his take.
"The best thing about Dirty Carny," Cristiano said, "is it provides a networking opportunity to play within. You get to meet a lot of bands you might not otherwise meet and get you get to play in front of a different set of fans than you normally do."
"For us (RadioRadio), we don't get to play a lot of all-ages shows, so it's a great opportunity to reach a new audience," he continued.
For the younger bands, Cristiano described it as "an old-fashioned, Club Nitro-type experience. The thing it provides for the new bands is a stage and sound and an audience to play in front of. It's full on trial by fire, which is what a lot of these younger bands really need."
While there are still plenty of young and up-and-coming bands on the Dirty Carny bill this weekend, Stevens is also mixing things up a bit. "We tried to bring in something new to keep it fresh," he told me.
Part of that change included moving the show to a different venue, with this weekend's show going down, again, at Plan B. With the move, another change includes the inclusion of a 21 and over stage inside with a full bar as well as an all-ages stage outdoors. Also, while Stevens is still giving the newer bands a chance to show what they've got, he's also lined up touring feature acts for each night that have grabbed some national attention as well.
Friday night's headliner is Rookie of The Year, a band that has been included on the Vans Warped Tour. Saturday night will feature Michael Graves (formerly of The Misfits) and Sunday evening is effectively metal/hardcore night as Becoming the Archetype, Different Breed of Killer and The Overseer are included on the bill.
Another change in format includes what Stevens described as a kick-off party on Thursday evening, October 2. "On Friday Saturday and Sunday, we'll have live music on both stages," said Stevens. "On Thursday, though, we'll only have music inside. We've got Alex Cartwright, Ira Burton and Chelsea Cope playing acoustic on the indoor stage, then DJ Demko from The Edge will be spinning afterward.
"It's kind of set up so the bands can come on Thursday, hang out, party and get to know each other. Of course, it's open to all so anybody who has a ticket for the weekend can come, too."
As always, with nearly 40 bands during four nights, this is a great opportunity to not only see some of your favorite local bands, but discover some new ones as well. While highlights of the weekend promise to include bands like Tokyo Jones, We Stay Gold, RadioRadio, Society Society (with former members of Vito 9Fingers), The Decomposed, Standing Ape Count and Sworn Against, there are still plenty of surprises. A full listing of each night's bands and tentative lineup is online at myspace.com/dirtycarnysideshow, so make sure to scout the evening before you head out.
Dirty Carny Sideshow kicks off Thursday evening, October 2, and continues each night through Sunday, October 5. Doors open at 6pm each evening and tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the show, with each night wrapping up at 2am.
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