Fri 2 Oct – Ravenwood Festival 2009: Neo-Victorian Cabaret
I assumed start time around 7pm but when I arrived Friday I found nothing going on yet so I left and came back around 8:30 and found some fire twirlers and not much else - no sound?? - seems there were some cables missing and the sound guy was late....well I sat at the bar and started drinking scotch. Sometime later, not too much later, the sound began and the lights were dimmed. ESPerMachine was good, though the crowd was thin and seemed edgy and distracted. Ex-Voto was a nice change of pace for Fayetteville but after several scotches I was feeling a bit worn and weary and didn't stay for the full set.
Saturday I met a friend for dinner and when asked what time the bands started I had to admit that there was no information about start time on any posters or on the web or anywhere else that I could find. So we both figured with the number of bands and DJs that it would have to start by 8 at the latest..... well - NO - when we got there we were told the doors wouldn't be open until 9 - so irritably we left and found diversion until time had passed and we returned. So we walked around, looked at the vendor booths, and found a place to hang. Time passed - more time passed....DJs started up in mini-sets and were there a gone in a blur of a few songs - then the Spider Lilies finally hit the stage. I wasn't expecting much, but the first song was not very good at all - the singer seemed to be really off her mark...but each song was an improvement and I was starting to really like them and they were done... the curse of an opening slot compounded with the late slot... Next the reason for coming for me The Hellblinki Sextet! And they were awesome from the first note. They really know how to work that stage and for three people they could make more noise than was believable. The only problem I had was the crowd was divided after about 5 songs and the night was passing and I think they weren't necessarily wanting Hellblinki to stop but they wanted Abney Park to have more time and was passing midnight. Lucky for me they played several more songs including a spirited yet odd cover of "Push It" in honor of Abney Parks travel arrangements. Surprisingly the Tribal Fusion Belly-Dancers took the stage and kept it for a very long time.... I'll say no more about that.
So in short what I liked:
Goth and/or Steampunk events are few and far between so kudos for having one.
Venue was handled and decorated well for the last minute change.
Bartenders good looking and quick with the drinks.
Crowd was into it
DJs picked there few songs well and had people pumped
The Hellblinki Sextet were the most awesome-est!
Spider Lilies came in second for me
ESPerMachine just in at thrid
Ex-Voto was good but I was tired and tanked and can't rank them fairly
I am sure Abney Park rocked but since I wasn't there then...
Dancers with glow sticks, globes etc were cool
Fire twirlers also cool
Super job of soliciting performers and vendors and all - amazing line up yet again!
To be improved (In my opinion):
Time schedule!! I understand about Friday with the mishaps - but Saturday starting so late... and to have the bands bunched up there at the end with so little time left - I assume some of this may have been leftover problems from the night before - but why not even opening the doors until 9? I just didn't get that. So much pre-event effort and the execution on the days off the event seemed chaotic and rushed. At least from my perspective the bands and participants didn't show any annoyance and had good spirits for the crowd. Maybe I'm just getting old, but I would like more "meat" earlier and leave some time open at the end for flexibility for the younger night owls. Concerts, in my experience, start around 8 and end around 11:30 and that's generally and opening band and main event. So with more bands I would have started earlier and tried to keep that later time estimate no later than 12:30 so the night could round out with DJ dancing and band mingling etc.
My only other concern was attendance - as with prior events I was astounded by the quality of artists and the lack of a larger crowd. Was this crowd large enough to make the event profitable? How to get more people there? Do the promoters spend too much effort preaching to the converted and not enough trying to reach out to new converts? Would doing that bring the wrong vibe to the event by having more voyeurs than participants? I'm not involved in these discussion and/or decisions so these are just thoughts flung out there. I am just hopeful that this was enough to make it possible for there to be another.
Thanks to those who put this event together, to those that performed, and to the eclectic and vibrant attendees - I wish I knew you better.