Last weekend’s Neon Reverb music festival screamed “success” on almost every front, from the quality of its performances to the communal spirit shown by the local bands and volunteers who brought the four-night Downtown event to life. The lone exception? Economics (shocking, eh?).
“I’m very pleased on all levels except financial,” says organizer James Woodbridge, whose festival wound up some $5,000 in the red. “But I maintain that the amount of money not recouped is minuscule given the quality and quantity of these bands. And it could be solved by having a sponsor next time.”
Whether or not he finds that sponsor, Woodbridge says, he plans to bring Neon Reverb back for its second fall installment later this year. And come spring 2010, he’d like to further increase the fest’s profile, by exploring a large-scale free show on one of the Fremont Street Experience’s outdoor stages.
“We’d like to bring in someone big. Imagine how many people would drive in to see a band like TV on the Radio for free in Las Vegas,” Woodbridge says. “It’s important to keep kicking it up to the next level. To work, it needs an upward trajectory.”
Three suggestions to that end:
1. Adjust the price. All-festival passes went for $60. Considering most shows ran $10 at the door, you had to come out all four nights and move from venue to venue to make it cost-effective. A full-fest price of, say, $35 would tempt more folks to hang Downtown.
2. Tweak the schedule. Thursday and Friday were plagued by lateness—openers ran behind, which forced headliners back so badly, they often played to the sparsest rooms. On Saturday and Sunday, Woodbridge and his staff wisely adjusted, shifting headliners to the middle of the order to ensure decent crowds. Seems like the way to go moving forward.
3. Lighten the load. A poster featuring 90 band names looks cool, but half that many might have been more manageable, both for organizers and audiences. Venue variety is also an admirable aspect, but instead of staging nightly bills at the Aruba Hotel, Las Vegas Country Saloon and Box Office, it might be more efficient to rotate those sites, while keeping Beauty Bar and the Bunkhouse as the primary hubs.