If you've ever been through the system for a ridiculous traffic infraction at Tempe's downtown kangaroo court (full disclosure: I have), you probably know the city is run by idiots. Like, the sort of idiots who wanted a now-shuttered Borders Books on their downtown strip instead of several legendary bars? Yeah, those kind of idiots.
Chandler noise-pop band Lisa Savidge found out just how dumb Tempe's city fathers can be recently during encounters with cops when they played two installments of the city-sponsored Music on Mill series.
"The first time around, we got (more than) a few noise complaints, but whatever. It is no secret that we are one of the loudest bands around (people always think metal is the loudest, but up until recently the record for loudest concert was held by a shoegaze band: My Bloody Valentine), and we were kind of facing some businesses. So we figured, hey, next time we'll do it a little differently."
"Next time comes, and we crank everything WAY down. I'm talking amps at half the volume we use for practice and James holding his sticks with two fingers, barely tapping the drums. On top of this, we faced directly into the (closed) post office, severely restricting audience space, tailored our song list to include only our quietest songs, and played much shorter sets to limit potential annoyance. As a result of this, we got a lot less of an audience, and made about 1/5 as much as we had the last time."
You may be guessing where this goes from here. Instead of complaining to the band, someone complained directly to the cops.
"Don't even get me started on the absurdity of Tempe paying a cop to come over and shut down a music performance being payed for by, well, Tempe," the band writes.
"So, what the hell? It seems to me that there was a time (maybe a decade or so ago) when no one would file a noise complaint on Mill. This was also the time when the streets were packed and all of the businesses had lines out the door. Now what do you have? A bunch of corporate franchises that are going out of business after forcing all of the mom 'n' pops out because they turned downtown into nothing more than a shopping mall. Except without parking or climate control. And people wonder why no one goes there anymore."
Well, from there they sorta go off the rails a bit.
"I'm getting sick of this attitude I get from the "straight job" community for being a musician. Everyone seems to assume that I'm just trying to get my way to a Leer jet or some huge heroin score or some crap."
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And then it just gets depressing . . .
"I guess I'll close with a little exchange from when we were setting up there in Tempe the first time:
She: "You may not want to set up under that tree, because it is full of birds."
Me: "That's OK, we get shit on at every gig we play, anyway."
Let me toss this out there, since I definitely feel for the guys: Listening to "90 Pills" again, it's clear Lisa Savidge is capable of writing some of the best pop songs in this town. Truly, that's a seriously great song.
Also, fuck tha police.