Every year, hundreds of communities around the nation hold their own Summer civic concert series, offering up everything from oldies acts to the local American Idol semi-finalist from three seasons ago to tribute bands. Go to a show and you might hear some big band jazz or honky-tonk country or disco classics, but no matter what the act, genre or part of the country, you can count on one thing for certain: Someone’s gonna complain it’s too loud.
As a result, while some people say it’s not Summer until Memorial Day or school’s out or some other bellwether, I maintain that it’s not the hottest season of the year until you start seeing letters to the editor in the paper, complaining about the sound at a local community concert.
Thanks to the Post Bulletin of Rochester, MN, I can now officially inform you: It’s Summer.
Thursday, June 16, saw Rochester kick off its annual series of free concerts on the Coca-Cola Third St. Stage at Peace Plaza Downtown (the pleasant urban space seen above). After a press conference running down all the upcoming acts this year, 1960s popsters The Buckinghams played, going through their hits like "Kind of a Drag," "Don't You Care," "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," and so forth. By all reports, a good time was had by all.
The following Monday, June 20, saw this letter appear in the Post Bulletin under the headline Performance needed better sound system:
The concert of The Buckinghams at Thursday's on First and Third on June 16 was disappointing to say the least. While the band was phenomenal, the sound system and sound technicians completely ruined the concert for me. Mainly, it was too loud. At times, it was incredibly painful to listen to…I know that the Rochester Downtown Alliance can do a better job of hiring their sound technicians. I hope, for the sake of all the attendees, that the sound will be better next time.
Now usually these kinds of letters seem to pass without much fanfare. At most, maybe the promoter tells the sound provider or the next act to keep it down a little. This time, however, a truly, um, rambunctious reply appeared in the Post Bulletin on Thursday, June 23, under the headline, Think concert is too loud? Get up and move:
It was with absolute stunned sadness that I read the letter from Benj Kost regarding the sound at the Buckingham's concert in his June 20 letter to the editor.
Rochester Downtown Alliance and Spectrum Pro Audio (the "sound company" referred to in his letter) have done phenomenal things to bring some life and entertainment into Rochester. I have a couple suggestions for Benj Kost:
1. If the sound is too loud, pick up your lawn chair and move somewhere else. This is pure common sense. However, I do realize that not everyone is blessed with this quality.
2. Research what is involved in providing sound for a live event — a live event that is held on a downtown city street that is lined with concrete buildings on both sides, businesses on both sides of the street, market vendors on the street, and several thousand people in attendance for the concert.
I am always embarrassed for people who criticize others and, in doing so, demonstrate they know absolutely nothing about what they are criticizing.
RDA and Spectrum Pro Audio, keep up the great work!
Naturally, the next concert in the series was the same day that the response letter appeared; the headliners were Café Con Crema, a Salsa/Merengue/Cumbia act. There's no word yet as to how it went over, but hopefully it was as loud as it needed to be.