"Man, I could've booked a better night of music than that one!"
Who among us hasn’t uttered some variation of the above? We all think we could do the job more effectively than the supposed experts particularly in our current era of social media madness, where having expertise in a certain area is commonly referred to as "elitism." Well, smarty pants, here's your chance.
On Sept. 2, Canalside will host Tailor Made, conceived by local promoter Chris Ring as a partially fan-built music festival. Ring has his headliners in place – Travis Scott and 2 Chainz, prominent names for a hip-hop festival. But for the rest of the bill, he's opened up the process to fan voting.
Ring, who has run After Dark Entertainment for years principally out of his own club, Waiting Room, formed a team and launched Fanbassador in 2016, in an effort to offer fans an opportunity to feel more connected to the live music industry their dollars support.
You feel that, don’t you? Since the collapse of the recorded music industry due to the popularity of streaming services, it's us – the fans – who've taken on the burden of providing touring musicians with the money they no longer make from selling albums. It seems only fair that we'd have a voice in how all of this goes down. Ring's solution? Put your vote where your mouth is.
Tailor Made is a hip-hop festival, although in each of the two categories – nationally touring performers and local artists – we are offered the write-in option. This one only works if you participate, which you can do by going to Fanbassador's page for Tailor Made. If you vote, you have the option of purchasing early-bird tickets for $45.
I did my duty and voted. Here's how it went down:
In the Tier 1 slot, I scrolled straight to Anderson .Paak and clicked the vote box. I didn’t need to click the artist info option where you may learn about the performer and sample their music. I'm well acquainted with Paak and his often jaw-dropping genre-bending music – a mélange of hip-hop, R&B, pop and jazz inflections. The guy is pretty amazing.
For my second vote, I opted to "write-in" Death Grips, because I think they'd bring some vitality, startling originality and diversity to the lineup. The Californian collective is ostensibly a hip-hop outfit, but a deeply experimental one, with elements of punk, ambient music and industrial sounds colliding in a giddy and dizzying fashion. I'd love to hear this at Canalside.
The Tier 2 category was a bit tougher because its well-stocked with examples of Buffalo's deep and rich hip-hop scene. Eventually, I settled on Chae Hawk and Mad Dukez, two of the hottest emcees in town. Between the two, the full breadth of Buffalo hip-hop – from old school soul grooves to modern electronic-inflected mash-ups – is duly represented.
Ideas such as Tailor Made are becoming more popular in the live music industry, and the trend is a positive one. We're being offered an opportunity to do something other than complain. And we should seize that opportunity.
"Once we prove the concept here, we plan on taking the idea on the road, doing Tailor Made Festivals throughout the country, in all genres of music," Ring said. "In the long term we hope we can get to the point where the fans have the ability to pick the whole line up, from the headliners down, in a 100 percent fan-demanded event."