As Salt Lake City primps for its big date with the world, it’s a good time to accentuate our assets. Not just great skiing, theological structures or wacky polygamist families, but qualities that don’t make the national radar. Our burgeoning music scene, perhaps?
Well, you’d think.
Local musicians, while some are indeed playing SLOC-sponsored events, are missing opportunities to play during the Olympics, as clubs are electing to book national acts or eschew live music in favor of DJs. And if a band is lucky enough to have an Olympic gig, the restrictions render the exposure dubious.
The cases of four local bands, Alchemy, Nova Paradiso, Gigi Love and Erosion are telling:
Not “Dancy” Enough
Indie rockers Alchemy, as with many Salt Lake bands, have found doors at local clubs closed to them. “Places that usually are happy to have you play at their club are getting some kind of fever,” says guitarist-vocalist Jeremy Smith. “Our group was told that we’re not ‘dancy’ enough. It’s too bad the staples of the club scene have gone and forgotten where they live.”
Will Work For Free?
Nova Paradiso saxophonist Dale Lee doesn’t feel his band was screwed, per se, just manipulated. SLOC organizers asked the exotic 10-piece band to play various gigs, including the Medals Ceremonies, only without compensation. Doing so, Lee was told, would result in SLOC recommending the band for paid private gigs. Nova Paradiso declined. “We didn’t buy into the exposure benefits,” says Lee, “hoping if other local bands did the same, SLOC would be forced to open their budget up to local artists.”
Granted, SLOC has a budget, and he doesn’t blame them for trying to get bands to play free—but a guy has to feel the quality of his work merits compensation. Not only that, but “the Olympics are not simply a benefit for the amity and brotherhood of all nations. It’s a capitalistic machine attempting to make money, or at least not lose money. Could you imagine all the good local restaurants being approached to serve customers free during the Olympics? With that understanding, I believe there are worthier benefits with which Nova could be involved. We didn’t get screwed, their offer just wasn’t inviting.”
Who Was That Masked Band?
Singer-songwriter Gigi Love is scheduled to play Washington Plaza and the Athlete Olympic Village, but whether or not that constitutes exposure is subjective. She is not allowed to sell or advertise the availability of her CDs, nor may they announce her name from the stage. “Supposedly, I even have to cover the label on my guitar so that the brand is not advertised,” she says. “I feel a little bit deceived. What it really comes down to is [SLOC] doesn’t want me to get recognition for my life’s work as an artist. I’m basically a person who fills a space for them. SLOC should have let us sell our product with their endorsement.”
Battle of the Bland
SXSW finalist Erosion was summarily turned down by organizers of a battle of the bands contest, in which opening slots for Medals Plaza shows by the likes of Foo Fighters, Dave Matthews Band and Macy Gray were at stake. This, without so much as a cursory glance at the band’s press kit. And they were lucky, in a way. Bassist Mark Scheering says the bands Erosion circulates among—and these are the working bands—didn’t even know about the auditions until it was too late. Now, Joe Shmoe’s Sunday afternoon cover band is who will represent the Salt Lake scene. “It’s not like we’re asking people to come to us, but did they attempt to find out what properly represents a good cross-section of the scene?” he says.