Monday, May 29, 2006

HFStival Recap...

I think we can finally say that Merriweather, IMP, Howard County Police and everyone involved in the planning and running of the HFStival did it right. As far as I can tell from my own experience, that of a dozen or so others I've talked, and reports in the news, the impact on Columbians was minimal.

I could hear parts of the concert from my house, which is about a mile away as the crow flies, albeit to the east (most of the sound from Merriweather travels to the north, the direction the pavilion is pointed). So, I'm sure those in Town Center and Wilde Lake heard it; I'm just not sure how much. While I was walking from the Mall parking lot to the pavilion last night, The Strokes were playing on the main stage and I didn't notice it being particularly loud (though my hearing, after years of playing music in bars, has lost some of its sensitivity).

As for traffic: nonexistent, so far as I and others could tell on our drives through the area. I made a couple, not-really-on-the-way trips through Town Center both days and was actually impressed with how well the roads looked. And that's coming from someone who once had to help direct traffic because it was so bad.

What about all the other potential problems caused by large masses of young people. The concert, as they all do, had its share of drunks. However, the presence of way more police than usual for a concert and the vigilance of the beer servers in checking ID's certainly helped keep things in control. I even had a chance to talk with a police officer who said the show had run smoothly, with no incidents of significance to report.

More than 40,000 people showed up over two days, which was less than expanded capacity (54,000) but still two days of 20,000, a sell-out for Merriweather on any other day. Of course, as the Post points out, things haven't been the same for the concert or the station in a couple years.

In all, I think the concert was an unqualified success, both in planning and execution. Further proof that we're lucky to have people running Merriweather who care...and know what they're doing.

But that's enough writing. Here are some pictures. Enjoy!

Tickets.

Symphony Woods around 7 pm last night, looking very empty and very clean!

Lots of emergency vehicles in the VIP lot.


Just inside the main gate. The concession area is pretty empty, probably because The Strokes are playing.

Crowd.


Tree Stump Tables. Cool.


Truck in a tree. This is in the "Backyard" portion of the venue, behind the lawn. It's been turned into a trailer park barbecue, of sorts, with a converted Airstream serving as a margarita bar and tables and benches carved out of logs. Just another thing IMP has done to make Merriweather that much better.


Another enhancement: A picnic area near the front gate.


The Merriweather Post.


ATV: Automated Teller Van


If only the ATV wasn't "Temporarily Unable to Dispense Money"...


The second stage.


Interesting sight by the second stage. Free cases of energy drinks cause mild hysteria around marketing RV...

Overly burdened concertgoers undaunted by their bounty. Party Like a RockStar, indeed.


As usual, the wait for the ladies room is considerably longer (the line extends beyond the edge of the picture). Most assuredly, new restrooms are on the "To Do" list (right after "get long term contract").

Why not? They're everywhere, right?


Sunset. Time to watch some music.

10 comments:

Dave Wissing said...

Sounds like it was successful. I had to drive across Columbia a couple of times yesterday afternoon and purposely drove by Merriweather on Broken Land and LPP to see how things were and there was barely any traffic at all. It is not my kind of music, so I had zero interest in attending myself, but I was ambivelnt about it. And I live in TOwn Center (Vantage Point), and honestly I could not hear a thing from the conernt. My parents, who live in Oakland Mills, said they could hear it somewhat on Saturday, but it quieted down on Sunday. I am sure the concert folks had monitors stationed around Columbia checking sound levels and made adjustments on Sunday to minimze any complaints about noise levels.

I am sure if there were any incidents of note, the folks opposed to the concert from the start would be shouting about it loudly and repeatedly today. But so far, I have heard nothing....

Anonymous said...

I think the funniest thing was Barbara Russell's quote in the Examiner

“It was very important to be vigilant, and make sure that all the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed. I think it’s very good for everybody, including Merriweather Post Pavilion,” said Barbara Russell, Columbia Association Board member, Sunday afternoon.

Thats funny (not ha ha funny) for two reasons. First, the whole vigilance comment borders on offensive - the implication of course being that she and the other nay-sayers were simply advocating for vigilance against a back drop of organizers who, if left to their own devices, would have been negligent. I must have heard a billion times, here on the blog, in the news, and at meetings, that everything was being well tended to as is always the case with IMP and that comparisons to the Greatful Dead was wrong to the point of ludicras (yes I know how I;ve spelled it). I think her comments continue to give credence to the concept that what people were really concerned about were . . . KIDS.

The second part of her comments actually made me laugh out loud. Now that its gone well she is pretending that she was always routing for things to go well and gave hersefl the perfect set-up. If anything happened she could quickly go to an "I told you so" and since nothing didn't she rests on the "this is good for our community" and does so Sunday afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Great coverage, Hayduke.

Saturday's daytime music was audible from 1.5 miles south. The people who told me so didn't say it was annoying, just audible.

Trees turned into stumps turned into tables? Not cool. More like a waste of good trees (unless they were dead, of course). If healthy, who cooked up that idea and doesn't CA have to approve tree removals like that? Or is Merriweather not under CA covenants?

I'm sure that Dodge RAM junker wrapped around a tree will enchant the next BSO crowd.

Hayduke said...

I remember hearing once that all of the tree furniture around Merriweather comes from trees that have fallen elsewhere. None of Symphony Woods' nor Merriweather's trees were harmed in the process.

Thanks for the comments!

Anonymous said...

If it's true that no onsite trees were cut down and wound up as furniture, dig a little deeper - a number of huge, mature trees within Merriweather's grounds have over the years gone missing. Just comparing 1993 to 2004 (zoom to the lower right corner of each photo) it's possible to see some large trees gone. Remember how many trees used to be near the west, south, and north concession stands?

Hayduke said...

Even if perfectly healthy, mature trees were at some point removed from Merriweather's grounds, I don't think IMP had anything to do with it -- and certainly these are not the trees used as furniture (I quite clearly recall during a tour of MPP a few years ago it being said that the trees came from elsewhere -- perhaps Machater or Abbzug, both of whom were also present, can verify this). It's hard to tell in the pictures you've linked to (here's the fixed link for the first one) but even still, the second is from April 2004, only a few months after IMP took over from Clear Channel. If trees were indeed removed during that ten year period, I think Clear Channel (or Nederlander before them) are to blame.

Besides, it's not clear to me why IMP would bother removing trees in the first place. They've made only minor expansions to the concession facilities, none significant enough to warrant tree removal -- so far as I can tell. What's more, the trees are a part of what makes Merriweather special and they know that, which is why they've made enhancements -- tree furniture -- that accent the natural surroundings.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the trees are a part of Merriweather's specialness, music in a park surrounded by nature. From its inception, preserving its trees were part of its plan - "With
the exception of the Pavilion itself, the existing grading around the venue was only minimally modified, maintaining as many of the mature existing trees on the site as possible." (Citizen Advisory Panel on Merriweather Post Pavilion Final Report, 8/12/04, p. 86) We're fortunate to have this venue in the heart of Columbia.

I just fear that we're too myopic in our view of our environs and don't notice the cumulative effects of lesser changes that occur incrementally over long time periods.

All that's left of a very large, very mature tree that was about 10' west of the southern beer stand in the '90's is a 15' high stump. A similarly large tree that had been about 30' east of the west beer stand in the '80's is completely gone. Both of these trees, when still there, had tremendous canopies. Still another tree that had been along the fence running from the pavilion to the Admin building is now just two 20' high stumps. Other large trees adjacent to the stand that had been at the rear of the lawn prior to the lawn's expansion are also missing.

IMP's facility changes are indeed much less than Nederlander's or Clear Channel's thus far. I just hope that if CA is supposed to have oversight of tree removals at Merriweather (CA covenants do require CA approval for removal of any tree from properties under CA lien where the tree is over 6" dia. measured 2' from the ground to be approved), that the proper things are being done, approved, and documented/archived.

The same motivations that might have existed for previous management companies (reduce liability issues, compete with larger local venues, increase revenues via expanded lawn seating, expanded concessions, and access to those concessions) may arise for IMP. The living trees should, however, continue to enjoy the same consideration Merriweather's original designers afforded them.

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Anonymous said...

"All that's left of a very large, very mature tree that was about 10' west of the southern beer stand in the '90's is a 15' high stump."

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