Beginning with what will be one of the more lingering memories of it — namely, nearly everything I picked up:
Which sounds a bit obvious. But to explain a bit — I had a plan some time back to try and buy something by everyone on the bill if I could help it, and I almost succeeded (a couple of folks had no releases on sale while I just ran out of my cash at the end before I snagged something from Charalambides or by Tom or Christina solo — and a couple of folks flat out gave me things, which was terribly kind of them!). This was in part driven by last year’s festival where I barely had money for anything; while I picked up a few things I felt bummed I wasn’t giving the artists a little more directly, and I resolved to save up some cash to do that this time around, with an eye to try and snag, where possible, their most recent releases.
The economy of the music business and how it functions these days is well-trodden ground I need not go over in detail. But there is something basic to the exchange of money for goods that will always have its place, and if we live in a world where music is free for all who search for it — and I’m hardly excusing myself on that front in a number of cases — then whether one treats something with recorded sound in a physical format as merely a souvenir of an experience or as something valued in and of itself or something else again, it’s still a sign, a direct one, of showing an artist or a label or even, simply, a vendor that their work is appreciated, encouraged, and that they hopefully will continue on whereever they go next.
The quality control of On Land, in terms of the performances, was to my mind magisterial. Nobody sucked, everyone was at least really enjoyable and some shows were simply stellar. Sure, I’m inclined to much of this music to start with, and many of the bands I already well knew and appreciated. But it all comes down to what happens on the day, and it also comes down to where an artist is at that moment in time. I did not want to come and see anyone who I’d already seen before, whether at last year’s edition or elsewhere, do the same exact set as before. That would have been pointless to my mind, and I’ve seen enough bands do essentially one thing again and again over the years to draw distinctions.
So the snapshot of On Land I experienced and, hopefully, provided in part via my reports, as well as implicitly captured in the recordings I picked up, is meant to mark a moment, another in a series of moments for everyone. Where everyone goes next is what I want to see and can’t wait to enjoy. Barn Owl will surprise me yet again next time around, Ilyas Ahmed will try out something I didn’t expect once more, Metal Rouge will make me wonder where that left turn came from and who knows what Oneohtrix Point Never might decide to try out. And much as I would love to see Robert A. A. Lowe’s mindblowingly beautiful set once more, visually and aurally, wanting something new means something else unexpected and fresh.
Other festivals and things happened during that weekend around the country (heck, around the world) and newer ones are just now starting up in SF as well so as with every good experience like this it retreats into the past, becoming part of the overall wash of time. But I did want to conclude by saying how great it was to see so many friends again old and new — Nari visiting up from Texas (and I will say again Lee shoulda been there!), Mike and Pat from LA, John and A. from Boston, everyone who I chatted with and hung out with over a beer and a meal and bought something from and more besides. And of course, at the top of the list, Jefre and Maxwell for putting it all together and making it something I enjoyed even more than last year, and I loved last year. Love to see it all happen again, count myself damn lucky to have been there to start with.
Back to Not Just the Ticket and other such things over the next week. But the school year is about to kick in and I’ll be plenty busy for a while!