It's really not CityBeat's style to write about its own events. When it comes to previewing public happenings that we're involved in, we have to convince ourselves that they're worthy of coverage—we're that concerned about appearing self-serving. Even when we've given ourselves the all-clear to preview an event, we make sure to be as circumspect in print as possible. For evidence, see music editor Nate Dinsdale's hilarious “one man's nepotistic is another man's nepotastic!” full-disclosure line in last week's story in advance of the North by North Park music festival and conference.
But North by North Park was so successful that I feel compelled to talk about it after-the-fact, as well.
The editor-publisher relationship comes with its own inherent conflict. Batteries included. No assembly required. The dynamic is tailor-made for arguments over the push-pull of advertising and editorial. Unlike many publications in San Diego—dare I say “most”?—there's a sturdy wall at CityBeat between the business side and the editorial side. Publisher Kevin Hellman and I can regularly be found lobbing rotting fruits and vegetables over that wall at each other. Our shout-fests are weekly occurrences in the office—something I'm quite sure the other employees really appreciate.
But right here and now, I've got to give it up for the man. Last weekend, he, in his role as head of the San Diego Music Foundation, produced a killer event. By all accounts, North by North Park was a rousing and smooth-sailing success.
In case you missed it, NXNP featured 100 local bands, DJs and acoustic musicians on 16 stages in 14 venues in North Park, South Park, Normal Heights and Kensington, plus a set of daytime seminars at the Lafayette Hotel aimed at helping fledgling musicians break into the business. I missed the workshops, but I'm told they were well-attended and interesting, and that keynote speaker Jerry Heller, formerly the manager of N.W.A., delivered the goods.
However, I made sure to experience as many of the nighttime performances as possible, starting with three acoustic acts at Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge (while I'm in the mood, I'll insert shameless plugs for my buddy GrandpaDrew and CityBeat's own Ryan Blue here). From there, it was on to check out Get Back Loretta at U31, Apes of Wrath (freakin' awesome!) at Bar Pink, Republic of Letters at The Avalon and The Burning of Rome (wonderfully weird) at The Radio Room (formerly The Zombie Lounge). I ended my night with the pop-punk stylings of Wild Weekend back at Bar Pink, where the crowd was packed so tightly against the stage that my left leg at one point got tangled up in Kelly Alvarez guitar cord as I crawled between her and the audience trying to get photos. (Here's where I thank her for not clubbing me over the head with her axe—which would have truly been a punk-rock thing to do.)
I didn't need to take advantage of the shuttle vans that transported music lovers from venue to venue, but I hear they were packed and people are calling for more of them next year to meet the demand.
However, I did take advantage of the bacon-wrapped-hotdoggy goodness at 1:30 a.m. at the makeshift sidewalk kitchen out in front of Los Amigos Cocina Mexican restaurant, just east of U31 on University Avenue. More eateries should push their grills, ovens and dessert trays outside next year to feed the wandering clubgoers.
It was really a great night. The only complaint I've heard is that the lines were so long at U31 and Bar Pink that some prepaid wristband wearers couldn't get in to see some bands.
San Diego could use more community events like North by North Park—celebrations that zero in on and benefit local small businesses where they live, rather than those cookie-cutter close-down-the-street-and-erect-a-string-of-tents things.
CityBeat's been accused of being North Park-centric, and I can't exactly refute the charge. We're into the vibe of it, and our hats are off to the people who have revitalized that neighborhood; it's well on its way to becoming a vibrant, walkable community. We hope the progress continues north and south on 30th Street and east and west on University.Kevin Hellman is no novice at music-event promotion. On Sept. 17, he'll hold his 18th annual San Diego Music Awards ceremony and showcase, and for years he was the guy behind the dearly departed P.B. Block Party. One would be hard-pressed to name someone—other than Casbah owner Tim Mays, perhaps—who's done more for local music than Hellman. I'm proud of his efforts last weekend, and I'm thankful that CityBeat got to piggyback on the event and cash in on the buzz it created.
Well done, Kev.