Monday, April 21, the Augusta Chronicle’s Guest Entertainment Columnist Steven Uhles contributed what apparently was a creative writing assignment to the paper.
“More years ago than I care to count, I had a boss with a real obsession with reactive versus proactive behaviors. The first, he felt, was a dark road that led to chaos. The latter, the only possible route to organizational success. While I never quite agreed with him — still don’t, in fact — his words were ringing in my ears during Masters Week.
Why? Because two music events succeeded on their own terms, one by remaining reactive and adapting as issues arose, the other by drawing from a deep well of experience and organizing an event that proceeded according to an exceedingly well-thought-out plan.”
Well how dee do!
“Was one approach right and the other wrong? Can one event be deemed more successful that the other? Probably not, but I can tell you the latter would be less likely to give me ulcers.
“The first event was the Friends with Benefits Major Rager, featuring the popular touring act Umphrey’s McGee. Originally slated for the Jessye Norman Amphitheater, the well-founded fear of heavy rain forced a move to the Augusta Convention Center. That sort of fleet-footed decision making appeared to be the norm, rather than the exception.”
“During the concert, I kept a careful eye on the event organizers, racing from point-to-point, from problem-to-problem. While the concert, the change of venue and the unplanned circumstances can so often bedevil an inaugural event, the result was a concert that, for most in attendance, seemed to go off without a hitch. Watching, however, I had to wonder if the challenges associated with the Convention Center were not, in fact, a blessing in disguise.”
The concert was a huge success. When you’re in charge of something on that scale, you generally race from point to point putting out fires.
“I wondered how Umphrey’s McGee, which tours with an incredibly complicated light show, would have navigated the notoriously difficult Jessye Norman load-in. I also wondered how the golf fans that had spent several hundred dollars on a room at the adjacent hotel would have responded to having pink lasers spinning through their windows half the night.”
A complicated light show? What they have are two trusses suspended from the ceiling with multiple lights on them. You attach the lights to the truss and haul them up. Those lights are run through a computer program. Load in would have been like every other load in at the amphitheater. In August 2010 the Deftones loaded in two tractor trailers worth of gear (including a “complicated light show”) and put on one of the best shows Augusta has seen. Visiting Augusta for the Masters and having a great band playing near your hotel until 11 isn’t exactly the Trail of Tears.
“Weather hampered the Rager. It may have also saved it. What people will remember is not the mistakes that were avoided, but an event that attracted a large audience and was executed with aplomb.”
God this is confusing.
“The Rock Fore! Dough concert, which celebrated its 10th anniversary the next night, never seemed to require any sort of quick decision making or rapid tactical thinking. That had all been done over the course of the decade that preceded this year’s show. Transitions were smooth. Artists were happy. Infrastructure was addressed long before the first truck rolled in. It was an event built on a foundation of planning rather than responding. It was the well-oiled string quartet to the Rager’s free jazz solo.”
First off, Steven probably meant “well-rosined string quartet” as opposed to “well-oiled” but what the hell, he’s on a roll. The Rock Fore! Dough concert has been doing the same thing for 10 years. Same bands, same location, same sponsors, same vendors, same… everything. Except they moved to a new location. Okay. What on earth does that have to do with the Umphrey’s McGhee show? It seems to Insiders the organizers of the Major Rager had the resources and wherewithal to garner a new location, spend the extra tens of thousands of dollars needed, and provide the band with first-class… first-class accommodations.
“That is not to say, of course, that every Rock Fore! Dough has — or will — go off without a hitch. Nor does it mean that any subsequent Rager shows that might be booked won’t be masterpieces of planning. But I will say this. It would behoove the newcomers at Friends with Benefits to continue to watch how Rock Fore! Dough gets it done. They might find that with more of a plan in place, they might be able to carve out a few more minutes to enjoy their own rock show.”
Whew. If there is a point Uhles was trying to make, he sure needs to take another pass at it.