It’s the end of 2012, or almost. It’s been a year full of things and stuff. I spent half of it on the West coast and another half on the East one. I started the year by ringing it in at a bar, red lipstick on, black something being worn, fake animal fur too. I’ll ring in this new one in similar fashion. 2012 was my first full year as a music journalist. I was hired, I was fired, and I started my own thing—the Philadelphia Area Music Showcase.
Starting your own thing is not at all hard. Sticking with it can definitely be. Finishing it, well if it’s good enough you hope you never have to. The thing is, whatever you set out to do, it’s going to turn different corners all the time. You might not recognize it years from now, it could be an entirely different species.
I started the Showcase under a misconception, but I didn’t know it at the time. I was in Portland, OR, a city that’s small but rich in music, lively all of the time, shows every night, side projects jutting out from every genre, friends of friends of friends playing together and supporting each other. I wondered why Philly wasn’t the same. Why there was so much competition. Why people didn’t work together more, pull each other up alongside themselves. I wanted to start a site that promoted Philly music in a collaborative sense, a place where we could put our best face out into the world and they would see it, believe it, look and listen to it. I wanted to show the world how rich this city is with sound.
Looking back now, I feel silly and wrong.
Last summer, I thought that if I went to enough shows (I was shooting for three a night) and interviewed enough artists, I could truly bring to light this face. Well, going to three shows a night is absolutely ridiculous, but do you know what I found out by trying? It’s not for lack of options, or venues, or talent. It’s simply lack of time, money, and reliable transportation.
Last summer I thought the optimism I had was a little overboard, that I’d have a hard time convincing artists, studio owners, fans, writers, photographers, and everyone else in Philly that collaboration is key. That there’s no “I” in team. That we can get further by sticking together. Little did I know this was already way happening, with or without me. That I could go ahead and jump on the ship, and I could do so by asking questions, seeking out advisors, volunteering time, booking and promoting shows, being a media outlet, being part of the support system that’s keeping the local music scene afloat.
Since last summer, I’ve seen live shows from countless amazingly talented local artists. I saw Man Man play the 2nd Street Festival minutes after dumping my suitcases off at my new apartment. Slutever scream to a house party audience in a converted garage with a free nail art station set up outside. Ground Up and The Lawsuits perform one 90 degree night in the middle of Rittenhouse Park. Nightlands perform a renovated score of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Ron Gallo and Satellite Hearts and the Districts playing in a stranger’s living room for a So Far Sounds pop-up performance.
And since last summer I’ve realized how completely together the Philadelphia music scene is. We’ve got the folks over at The Key picking up every little ember of music news and handing it back to us still hot, the JUMP team who understands the importance of printed word (and gives it to us for free!), the dudes running Out Of Town Films, who feature consistently exclusive, well produced video performances from natives and passer bys. And then there’s Sean Agnew, thank you. If there was no Union Transfer or First Unitarian Church, we’d be dismissing a large audience who’s not yet of legal age to booze.
This list is not comprehensive. There are so many different venues, organizations, individuals helping to make music accessible to Philadelphians. I am honored to be a participant and can only hope that the Philadelphia Music Showcase continues to grow, turn its corners, change species, and evolve alongside all of these folks. There is room for all of us here, and my hope for 2013 is that this crew of people only gets bigger and hungrier, and then bigger and hungrier than that.
Maybe even hungry enough to devour New York.