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Crapulet Fest: An RNRF Op-Ed (Or “How I Didn’t Spend Last Weekend”)

(This would’ve been a live shot of NOTHING MORE courtesy of RNRF)

To this day, just over 30 years into my concert-going career so far, I still remember the first one pretty perfectly. I remember the weird smell emanating from the parking lot (I believe they call it “marijuana”) as my sister and I along with a family friend who drove us made our way over to the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, MA to witness Pantera, on tour in support of Far Beyond Driven, with Crowbar opening. I remember the way the bass drums sounded in that live setting. I remember being in awe at the massive mosh pits that broke out (I would not partake myself until later that year at the same venue for Helmet) during Pantera’s set. I remember the T-shirts I bought with my parents’ money to commemorate the occasion, one from each band with tour dates and the most recent album covers on the front (Although both have sadly been donated/trashed after I moved away for college). What I don’t remember, though, is whether or not I was wearing earplugs. Probably not. I’m paying for those first few years now.

But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. And again, 30 years later I STILL remember it all (And still listen to both the bands fairly regularly). So when the seemingly perfect opportunity to share that experience with my niece revealed itself it was kind of a no-brainer. You see, before getting RNRF involved in the promotion of Capulet Fest (Heading into its’ third year of existence) I was a fan looking at a cool bill at a place that was close to my former (And her current) hometown with bands like Cold (Who’s one of my all-time favorites) and Taproot (Who I’ve been wanting to catch again since their recent return) playing on the same day of the 3-day festival. She’s a teen now who is slightly younger than my sister (Her Mom) and I were when we traveled to our first live concert in 1994 but she’s got the itch. Lots of the bands she wants to see are slightly too inappropriate right now with their stage shows and others are just too damn expensive.

On a visit back home I mentioned to my sister about my interest in seeing one of her most favorites, Cold, and others playing so close (My hometown is about 15 miles from Thompson Speedway) together again as she doesn’t go to shows as often as I and most likely my niece was in the vicinity and was more or less “I wanna go” regardless of who was playing (Turns out one of her current favorites, NOTHING MORE, was headlining the same day we were looking at). As avid concertgoers back in the day (And me still), we agreed this would be a great first experience. Bands my niece digs. Potential to find some new ones. Cool vendors. And big wide open space so that a still growing teen could find a vantage point that worked and still have a great time. So I bought 3 GA tickets for Sunday plus VIP parking cuz why not? It was gonna be rad. You’re in the future already, too, aren’t you?

Anyway, for shits I figured I’d see what the press coverage requirements were because worst case scenario is that CF says no, right? Right! Well, they said yes for press passes for the weekend so I got down to it on my end planning how my coverage was going to go in addition to actually being there most of the weekend (Saturday was up in the air on my end). Since I’d done it previously with other regional fests, I went with the local angle meaning I’d focus the RNRF preview posts on the New England area artists to highlight ahead of time. As for research, that meant going through all the bands across the entire bill (3 days worth) that I didn’t already know to figure out where they were from (Pro-tip for promoters/festival organizers: It is VERY helpful adding appropriate hyperlinks or short blurbs on the artists playing your fest for both fans and the media covering. Just saying.) In addition, an opportunity to review the new NOTHING MORE record CARNAL (Which was releasing the day CF started and 2 days ahead of their own headline appearance on Day 3) fell into my lap which led to an interview opportunity with guitarist Mark Vollelunga which also led to photo passes during their Sunday set. I’m not a photographer by any means but secured a camera and was rearing to go! Plus, it would all add up to a lot of content and coverage across the board.

Going into the week of the event we had already shared 5 new “Local Look” posts, 2 NOTHING MORE-centric ones and had 3 more ready to go and set to be released by the morning of CF at the very latest.* And then the shitstorm began.

To backtrack a little (Okay, a lot), RNRF is a relatively small outfit (Just look at the majority of who authors the posts) that’s been going fairly strong for 10+ years now. I don’t get paid. This is what I refer to as my “non-job job” and I fucking love it. Because I love music. And I love the local community of artists that I’m a small part of. And that’s why I do what I do. I try to squeeze as much time out of the amount of free time that I do have into this so I pick and choose what I do. That ‘s why, for the most part, when something is featured in here it’s in a pretty positive light because frankly I don’t have the time to waste on stuff that I don’t like or that won’t benefit from me writing up something about it (Hence when an advance stream drops before I’ve finished/had a chance to review then chances are it’ll be a no from RNRF, dawg). I try to prioritize the local stuff when I can because as a writer in the music journalism field for well over 20 years now I know what it’s like to build a body of work before you start to make headway (Apologies to anyone who I’ve ever not intentionally ignored. Trust that I still have an open tab on my laptop from when you initially reached out…)

To sum up: I wouldn’t say I’m picky with what RNRF posts but more particular. I’m sure I’ve said this somewhere but I do listen to everything that comes in and there’s a running list with release dates of stuff I’d like to cover but can’t always because of time. Key word again: time.

Now back to your regularly scheduled shitstorm.

It started for me with an email on the morning of Wednesday, June 26th (2 days before the event) as the festival PR firm announced they were no longer working nor associated with Capulet Fest. Odd with barely 48hrs to go for sure but not too out of the ordinary. I figured as I’d initially been approved by CF in the first place with the PR firm coming on only recently from the contact I’d gotten then I should still be fine with my credentials for the weekend. Regardless, there was never any announcement from Capulet Entertainment as to who the new PR person would be or any email follow-up whatsoever about media passes. As I sat down for the evening to finish editing those aforementioned 3 remaining “Local Look” posts I came across a really weird post on the (Now deleted) Capulet Fest Facebook page with way too many comments than something like “Please, everyone remain calm. We love you” at 9PM on a Wednesday evening should have. As I spiraled more I started to see the repeated rumors about venue changes and a flurry of posts more or less confirming that Thompson Speedway was no longer in the cards (Especially with a pop-up event now scheduled for Saturday the 29th) but no answers from CF.

Cut to Thursday morning (June 27th) and I (Along with the rest of the media peeps I’d assume) received an email from Capulet Entertainment stating that the event was still happening in Connecticut but camping was now unavailable yet a solution was on the way and that this info was “confidential” until officially announced. This was also the last interaction I had in a professional sense from Capulet. And then the “official” announcement came following a slew of, in my opinion, childish posts that practically poked fun at concertgoers stating that Thompson was no longer an option but, HUZZAH, The Webster in Hartford was going to step in and help out. Mind you, it’s now less than 24hrs from the start of the 3-day event and the new venue is not only an indoor one but also 50 miles away from the original location. Add that many a band have already bowed out for a variety of reasons and things are looking pretty bleak, kids.

By this point, my Spidey Sense has practically dug a crater into my brain and I was all “Je nope!” and unofficially bowed out of any more coverage from RNRF and then called my sister to fill her in. It was not a good conversation at all and I feel slightly guilty at feeling a little relieved that I didn’t have to break the news to my niece (There were apparently tears shed as she’d been counting down for 109 days). This was before NOTHING MORE even dropped off but I was not feeling comfortable at all with the new set up, the vague lineup, the lack of ANY information or communication and the fact that switching from an open air event to an indoor “club” setting was no bueno when it came to my niece’s first concert experience. And as a ticketholder, the last response I received from Capulet was on the morning of Day 1 (June 28th) around 10 AM announcing the venure change and that pre-paid parking would be honored to “legal capacity” with no reason whatsoever mentioned for the change. And if you followed along on the Capulet Fest Facebook page they kind of treated it like a joke or that they were triumphing over some unseen adversity. It was disheartening, to say the least as more and more bands I was interested in seeing dropped off with no explanation from CF in the slightest. And then the one day I did pay for, Sunday the 30th, was cancelled following the Saturday headline performance.

And all the above is the very long version of saying what’s really pissed me off the most after disappointing my niece. I could still take her to her first show. Or maybe I won’t but she’ll still have that experience despite this shitshow of a weekend. And I can make other memories regardless of Capulet Fest like the pile of vinyl I ordered for her just because I feel bad. But time. Time you can’t give me back. Time put into research. Time put into listening to the tunes. Time put into crafting posts. Time put into posting and social media’ing and all that jazz.

Time I could’ve given to artists and PR folks I already have a relationship with, some of which I had to flat out say “No” to because of the writing workload I set for myself during the festival week. Time I could’ve given to any number of releases on my “to do” list with albums coming out on June 28th. Then there’s the stupid time things like time wasted learning a camera for a photo pass that I’m not using/is no longer there or time I had reserved mentally to listen to promos of upcoming releases in the car on my way to and from the event. In conclusion, fuck you Capulet Fest for wasting my time and hurting my niece. I truly hope you get what you deserve.

And that’s my story. Thanks for reading.

*Apologies to the local artists on the bill we didn’t get to. I’m hoping to reconfigure what RNRF had into something else after taking some time away from CF-related stuff.

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