Sunday, August 06, 2006

Greetings from the belly of the beast

Have I ever mentioned what a horrible vortex of suck Cary, NC, is? It's an overplanned, excessively uniform, characterless nowhere full of identical shopping centers, housing developments with pseudo-aristocratic or bucolic names and divided boulevards bisected by grassy medians with identical trees spaced at uniform intervals. They have rules for everything--I imagine they probably regulate the size of turds that are allowed to travel through the city's sewage pipes and have an army of turd inspectors out busily issuing citations.

At any rate, Mr. Pants and I ventured forth into the heart of darkness yesterday because Santa Salsera gave us some free passes to the Festival Ritmo Latino at the Koka Booth amphitheatre there. This caused me some cognitive dissonance because when one thinks of places around here that would encourage and even welcome large gatherings of latinos and their sympathizers, Cary is the very last place that comes to mind. (As it turns out, the festival's parent organization has indeed encountered a bit of unfriendliness in Cary.) Aside from that, I just hate going to Cary for anything, ever. When la Salsera offered me the tix, I gladly said sure, but then when I found out where I would have to go I almost changed my mind because the very word "Cary" fills me with dread. (Ever been lost in Cary, or its identical twin sister Apex? There's no finding your way out because every street, every shopping center and every housing development looks exactly like any other, and there is an ordinance against putting signs where anyone can actually see them. So unless you stop and spray paint bright orange marks on trees along your way--extremely against the rules, by the way--there's really no way of knowing whether or not you're just driving around in circles.) But my love for la musica and my desire to see our very own local norteño band, Rey Norteño (whose single "Raleigh Norte Carolina" can be heard on "La Ley," and perhaps soon on WXDU now that they've given La Salsera a copy of their cd), won out over my fear of Cary.

The festival had some good acts in the lineup--we saw local group Samecumba, the aforementioned Rey Norteño, and Peruvian singer/songwriter/heartthrob Santino (not the Project Runway guy). Alas, we were tired and hungry and didn't feel like staying for headliner Luisito Rosario.

I quite liked Rey Norteño Here's a snippet of their single, in case you're curious:

I also really enjoyed Santino. (I got some video of him as well, which I may upload tomorrow when I can edit it on a decent computer.) In fact, the whole festival would have been way more enjoyable if it had been held somewhere else--the Koka Booth amphitheatre is so uptight it practically squeaks. The event was sold on a two-tiered basis, with upper lawn and lower lawn (chairs set up on the apron in front of the stage), and for most of the day there was hardly anyone in the lower area. I felt badly for the bands because their audience was mostly at least two hundred feet from the stage--performers really do a better show if the appreciative fans are allowed to get up closer. But even though it was empty up front there were overzealous (although mostly unintimidating old white golfer-looking guys) security people making sure that the riff-raff with lawn tickets were kept far from the stage. If the event organizers were to ask me, I'd tell them to make it all general admission next year, and let the performers feel some love even when the crowds are sparse (as they were up until Santino came on, at which point it picked up a little).

The security guys were needlessly assholic about other things as well. Mr. Pants spent a lot of time in the (flabbergastingly overpriced) cafe at the back of the lawn, and even though most of the tables were empty the security dudes swooped down and ran off anyone who sat at certain numbered tables (all totally empty the entire time). In the lower lawn area, Some of the kids would sit on the steps in front of the stage, and the security guys would swoop in and yell at the parents to go get them. Another time I saw a little girl going up the steps, and a mean security guy grabbed her upper arm very roughly and yanked her back hard--I'm really surprised that she didn't burst into tears. He was really angry at her, but she was only about four years old and seemed bewildered. It was awful. I don't even like children and I thought it was way excessive. And at one point, Mr. Pants and I decided to get out of the sun and were sitting on a marble sidewall next to a sidewalk, and one old asshole came and told us we weren't allowed to sit there ... there didn't seem to be any practical reason not to let people sit there except that it was a rule and we were in Cary, and in Cary you Obey All Rules. Mr. Pants didn't move ... and old duffer security dude apparently decided he wasn't going to challenge him.

In short--well actually this entry has gone on way to long--the Koka Booth amphitheatre is a really crappy venue to see music. The beverage prices are sheer robbery--a can of Budweiser is $5, and bottled water is $3. It seems to be a shrine to the enforcement of pointless rules, as befits a place like Cary. If you want to go see an outdoor concert, go to the NC Museum of Art--it's a much more fun place. As for the Festival Ritmo Latino, I'm willing to bet they'd draw twice the crowd if they held it at the old Durham Bulls Athletic Park next year.

Another thing I'd tell the organizers if they asked is that the event should start later in the afternoon and end later in the evening--it started at noon and ended at 7 pm, which took advantage of the very hottest part of the day, ensuring that even those of us prone to dancing weren't doing much of it. It would have been far smarter to have moved it all later, when things had cooled off a bit. But then when Mr. Pants and I were discussing this we figured that Cary probably has a rule about certain people not being allowed within city limits after nightfall ... they should really move this festival to Durham next year.


Pants-a-holic said...

Que buena esta cancion es!

How are you capturing your video? I've been thinking of buying a DV camera but I don't know if I want the miniDVD size or the cassette thingies or maybe just a box with a window and a squirrel in it who'll repeat everything back to me.

Lisa B. said...

Pants-a-holic! I love your new handle, Seth!

I'm capturing my video with my regular ol' digital camera (Sony Cybershot DSC-P200). I know it's not an ideal way to get video, but it beats the heck out of carrying around two cameras, one for stills and one for movies. I use a 2GB memory stick and I can fit quite a bit on there.

So I'm not much help when it comes to advice on actual video cameras because I know nothing. So I would choose the squirrel/box option, being careful not to let my dogs too near the squirrel ... although replacement suirrels are easy to find and very cheap.