Words and Photos by: Julian Vu
Local music blog, Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie is known for reviewing local and smaller bands that travel through the DMV. In an effort to capture the spirit of what SXSW was ten years ago, blogmaster Dave Mann put together the Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival, which was designed to give relative somebodys and most nobodies a chance to play out, and hopefully get exposure.
STPP Fest is unlike SXSW in that there are no industry execs running around trying to sign the next hottest band. It is like SXSW in that shows could either be packed out, or completely empty regardless of how awesome (or terrible?) the band might be.
In all honesty, none of the bands I saw were terrible. Some were halfway decent, but some like DC’s Hiding Places and the Mean Season completely blew me away. Statistically speaking, it was about near impossible to catch every single of the 125 bands playing. I cut my losses and just hoped for the best with the bands that I saw and overall, let me reiterate that the bands were decent at the very least.
Calling STPP Fest a success would be far from the mark, but calling it a failure would be even further from accurate. Despite a few logistical problems, the festival still went off with only a few hitches if even that. Bands were varied from typical indie rock, to folk, to 60’s psych, and everything in between. Everyone seemed to be supportive of all the bands, and if nothing else, there was a very DIY feel about it, particularly at venues where the musicians would run their own sound while performing. Never before have I seen a drummer drum, sing, AND adjust board levels. Color me impressed.
With all the bands not getting paid, there seemed to be a lackadaisical attitude evident in most all the bands. They didn’t care if the sound was terrible (which it surprisingly wasn’t, especially at Bella where the sound guy seemed to really know what he was doing). Most bands just powered through their sets very sloppily. It was jaunty, it was angular, it was punk rock, even the quiet singer-songwriters.
There is rumor of another STPP Fest happening in October. I’m sure Dave Mann has learned a few things from running this one, and really, it’s a good thing for a city whose primary venues for music shy away from local bands.
Looking for more insight? Jon Fischer over @ City Paper has a nicely written recap, we also recommend you peruse.