LOCAL ARTISTS’ CONCERT HUNGERS FOR AUDIENCE
Local musicians and artists finally got their day in the sun Saturday at the “Orange County Artists for World Hunger” concert at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. Fortunately for the participants, the sun had to obey the laws of nature and appear, unlike the county’s pop music fans who stayed away in droves from the event, which was to benefit the United Nations Emergency Relief Fund.
“It’s too bad that more people didn’t come,” said Jane Self of San Clemente, who came with her husband, Tom. “I think it’s a great cause to support.”
Added Tom Self, a public information official at Chapman College. “We wouldn’t normally go to any kind of rock concert, but I’d have brought a busload of people if I’d known the music would be this good.”
With a final attendance figure of 1,059, the show--instead of raising money for hunger--resulted in a loss of between $7,500 and $10,000, according to festival organizer Lee Dolan.
“I still think it’s a great thing, and I’m not upset about what happened,” said Dolan, who also is lead singer for a group called DIN. “Yesterday I felt like this would be a success no matter how many people came out just because of the way all of the musicians and artists have worked together to put it together.”
Although all of the musicians and artists who were featured during the 11-hour show donated their services and some other costs were underwritten by businesses, the concert needed to generate about $17,000 to break even.
Dolan said the agreement with the U.N. relief fund provided for the promoters to meet their expenses before turning over any profits to the fund.
“All along we’ve said that we primarily wanted to have a showcase for Orange County talent, but that if it made any money, we’d give it to charity,” Dolan said.
Even with Irvine Meadows’ scaled-down 6,000-seat “Meadows Terrace” seating arrangement, in which the colonnade and lawn sections were cordoned off, performers faced thousands of vacant seats throughout the day.
“It’s hard to do a good performance playing to a bunch of empty seats,” said Jack Lloyd, lead singer of Cathedral of Tears, which reformed recently after a brief breakup, exchanging its former brooding Gothic sound for a punchier, dance funk style. “But what can you do about it?”
Some were more critical of the county’s pop music fans for not supporting local performers.
“This is a county of tragic conformity,” said poet-musician Jerry the Priest, who did not perform but attended to support fellow members of the local music community. “People here just won’t take a chance on anything that hasn’t been validated for them by television or someone else.”
Many of the fans who did show up, however, said they discovered something they liked at the concert, which ran efficiently and remained on schedule throughout the day.
Beginning at noon, the music ranged from the roots rockabilly of the Rockin’ Rebels to the infectious reggae of the International Reggae All-Stars to the solo folk music of singer April Danielle to the explosive post-punk musings of the Minutemen, the Los Angeles trio whose members performed as “honorary Orange Countians for a day.”
Said Dave Dorff of Costa Mesa, “I wouldn’t say I liked everything I saw today, but I think it’s really good that they had something like this.”
Added Laguna Beach resident Pam Salafia, who attended with Dorff, “I really appreciate the fact that Irvine Meadows would take a chance and do a show like this. I’d like to see them (promoters) go into a park somewhere in Orange County and do a showcase like this once a month.”
Equally as eclectic as the music and art offerings was the audience itself. Young women dressed in layered Madonna fashions and ladened with jewelry sat only a few feet from bare-chested, sun-tanned and bleach-blond beach boys, who in turn were near conservatively dressed middle-age parents of band members.
Among the core audience of a few hundred that came and left with the various bands during the hot afternoon and into the cool of the evening were a few fans who came simply to show their support for local music.
“I didn’t come to see anyone in particular,” said Orange resident Kathryn Crockett, during the International Reggae All-Stars set. “But I would have felt bad if nobody showed up and I was one of them.”
Irvine Meadows director of operations Jeff Apregan said that while the response was disappointing, he would not preclude using Orange County acts at the amphitheater in the future because of the small turnout .
“They were trying to do a good thing,” Apregan said. “We still will consider the local bands if we have the opportunity and if it makes sense.”
In addition to the musical portion of the event, about two dozen Orange County artists exhibited works in the amphitheater concourse.
“I’m really happy with the art we did,” said visual arts coordinator Steve Armstrong, who also plays keyboards with DIN. “We had a good cross section of some well-known people to the underground artists and a couple of people are getting gallery exhibits out of this.”
Near the end of the show, Dolan said that even though the turnout was low, there might be some long-term gain for the musicians and artists involved.
“I think when these people go and tell their friends about it, it will get more people interested in the bands,” he said. “The important thing is that we made some new friends today.”