Welcome to our weekly show recommendation column RSVP HERE. Due to live show cancellations in the coming weeks we will be covering virtual live music events and festivals.
In the last few weeks there has been an unprecedented amount of live shows, tours and festival cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic. This has been devastating to the livelihoods of musicians, booking agents, promoters, venues and their employees among many others in the industry. From the ashes of spring festival season, Kristyn Potter of Left Bank Media has put together a five-day, 24-hour virtual music festival to help bring the community together through this dystopian nightmare. With this festival you can support those affected by COVID-19 emotionally and monetarily by watching from anywhere you may be self-quarantined and tip the bands while they’re performing. The festival starts tomorrow, March 17th, at 11am, and is going until March 22nd at 11pm, and includes many musicians who have been grounded by tour and show cancellations. We spoke with Potter about the process of organizing this festival, the importance of sharing music at this time, and resources she recommends for musicians, artists and promoters.
AF: How many artists are performing Left Bank’s virtual music festival and what are some sets that you’re excited for?
KP: So many artists are performing! I want to say at my last count we are at around 100 but of course that is changing daily. As I bring on bigger artists and partners, the word continues to spread so I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up extending the fest for a few more days.
To be honest, I’m excited about all of the bands, assuming of course that we don’t break the internet in the process, but some artists who are playing that I really love in no particular order: Hannah Judson (my buddy out in Paris and cofounder of Musefest), Diana Hutch (also in France, very sexy indie pop), Davis Mallory (fun fact: we connected a year or so ago when I wrote his bio), EMM, TOP Nachos, Celeste Krishna (shout out to Blonde Artist Management, I see you!), Yella Belly (obsessed), Tribe Friday (my Swedish boys!), HNRY FLWR (first saw him play at SXSW last year and have loved ever since), the list goes on. All of these artists are Left Bank handpicked, so these are all people I’ve posted about on the site or have worked with over the years, so in a way it’s kind of like a big family reunion.
AF: What was the process of booking the festival and getting the word out to bands?
KP: Honestly I just made an Instagram story and spammed all of my friends and past artists that have been on Left Bank. I got the idea on Thursday night and was neurotically texting and dm’ing everyone until like 5 am. Going through my IG messages the next day (and since). I brought along my friends and longtime collaborators Rebecca at Blonde Artist Management and Jordan at Diet Cokes & Smokes PR (literally texting “Hey guys, I have this idea, am I crazy?”) and from there they started bringing on artists, coming up with ideas… Jordan did a PR blast to his list, etc. It takes a village to put a festival together in 24 hours, or however the saying goes.
AF: How is the process of organizing a virtual music festival different than a regular DIY music festival?
KP: That’s a good question. I think in-person festivals take so much more work, logistically speaking. You need venues, and sound people, and soundchecks and if it’s at a DIY space you need booze and the list goes on. Of course this could all just blow up in our face, but what I’m finding through this is that I send out a massive google doc for bands to sign up (similar to how I’ve done festivals in the past), and ensure bands have the YouTube and Instagram log-ins and essentially just cross our fingers. Which, at the end of the day, that’s kind of how it is in regular festivals: a lot of putting out fires and crossing fingers and Kim Kardashian crying during the day.
AF: Why do you feel it’s so important to get the community together and spread music, poetry and positivity during this time?
KP: I think as a whole, without a crisis, it is important to not exist creatively in a vacuum. We are much stronger together than individually, and I see that everyday through Left Bank. But, more than ever, we are in such confusing times and we all need to lean on each other to get through it. I’m working from home for the next month (and am soooo grateful I can even get paid to do that) and the money I’m spending on groceries and toilet paper is depressing me. A friend of mine planned a SICK show during SXSW (which takes so much coordinating) and it’s just over just like that – all his hard work down the drain. Another friend is in a band just starting out and they had their first official big gig in Seattle and that’s cancelled. And honestly I understand why, as our health and safety is paramount during this time and how we act is critical to making sure we can contain the virus as best as possible but for the human element, it’s scary and sad and people are depressed and disappointed and it just sucks. I think that’s when you do something like this and see your friends in their pajamas and drink boxed wine at 11 am and just find something to smile about.
AF: What is your advice to other event organizers who are struggling with cancellations and are brainstorming what to do next? What other resources would recommend for promoters, musicians, and artists?
KP: I would say that livestreaming shows and interviews is probably going to be the best move for the next foreseeable future. I know some local venues in NYC are doing that and I think we will see a lot more of this type of collaboration and innovation in the future. It not only gives us an outlet for sharing all the music and art we are creating during isolation but also helps everyone not feel so alone, so that would be my recommendation. I’ve heard about a musician relief fund going around but you know what? I’ll add resources to the bottom of the Left Bank Live page and people can email me if they hear of anything or if they want to collaborate on something in the future. I’m open to doing this and supporting others’ projects for as long as it takes.
AF: What other plans do you have for Left Bank Media in 2020?
KP: Sleeping! Kidding (kind of) but I’m moving to London later this year if all goes well, so hopefully taking Left Bank on the road. But for now, just taking everything one day at a time and hoping for the best.
To help the DIY musicians currently struggling financially, support them directly and purchase their music and merchandise online, add their music to playlists, and look to see if you can even donate to them directly via Venmo or Paypal!