May 3, 201611:15 AMCulture
Fun and Culture in the Mid-State
Launch Music Conference
Launch Music Conference is music festival for musicians. This April, Lancaster was again home to an interactive music festival that hosts local and out-of-state artists as well as educational seminars led by experts in the music business. It’s the perfect opportunity for bands to not only play in front of a crowd, but to also get real advice from music business gurus on how to successfully run their band.
I’m not a musician though, so back in January when I learned that Launch was the same weekend as Dewey Beach Pop fest, Dewey beach was no doubt where I’d be. Just because I had decided not to attend, though, didn’t mean that I didn’t keep hearing about it.
Over the course of January and February, I constantly saw posts from friends who were attending and overheard conversations about who would be there. At one point, I heard the name Bayside and became kind of interested, interested enough at least to see who else would be playing. Bayside is a band from Queens, and even though they’re a band that I did want to see, I knew that they’d have more shows along the East Coast at some point soon. I also checked out the rest of the lineup – Bayside, Ice Nine Kills, Intervals w/Plini, Hot Jam Factory, Vital Signs, Fib Theory, Lovebettie, Carousel Kings, Sincerely Yours, Glass Mansions. All musicians that I had either already loved or had been wanting to see. Maybe I really did want to go. My mind wasn’t immediately changed on that though because I didn’t think I’d belong there. I had no reason to be at an educational music conference. I’d be out of my element and awkwardly out-of-place.
March approached, and one evening a writing proposition was brought up to me. Kelly, a friend of mine, said she was doing some photography work for a music festival coming up and that I should join her to write an article or two. It turned out to be Launch. I couldn’t help but laugh; I’d spent all that time considering going but couldn’t find a reason to. There it was, and of course, I agreed.
I did a little research on the bands that would be playing and some of the panelists who would be speaking. These were extremely influential people who I’d be meeting, and my nerves started to set in.
I had never done anything like this before, and I wanted to do everything right. Kelly was used to music festivals though and she’d be there with me for the whole weekend, and knowing that helped me relax.
Soon it was show time, and I made sure to give myself plenty of time to get ready before making the hour trip to Lancaster for registration at 4 p.m. I got a text from Kelly. I expected it was her just letting me know she was excited for Launch. I was wrong though. She was sick, really sick. She was sick enough that walking around all over Lancaster for three days with her camera bag in tow was out of the question. She needed to stay home and rest. I too started to prepare myself to stay home, but just as I was getting ready to sit down and relax, something made me change my mind. I decided I needed to go. The only thing really holding me back was that I’d be there alone, which ended up not being a bad thing.
Registration and the main stages were at the Marriott Hotel, which was also used as the central “hub” of Launch for the weekend. It was filled with sponsorship signs and booths of merchandise to buy. There were people walking around everywhere. As I stood in line to get registered, the first band was getting ready to go on in Freedom Hall. All I could think about was that I had to make sure to get as many interviews as possible, so that I’d have a lot of writing material. I had my whole schedule for the weekend planned out, and I just kept running it through in my mind.
I had planned to see shows at the Galactic Room, Tellus 360 and Marion Court as well as Lancaster Dispensing Company and FedLive. I chilled in Freedom Hall for the first couple hours on Thursday listening to some of the bands in there before finding the courage to ask one of the singers if his band would answer a few questions for me. They happily obliged.
It was pretty easy to meet people after that. There was a lounge area where I talked to a few guys who were in a local band called Gladiators – they played Thursday night at the Chameleon Club. I met a girl in one of the bathrooms who was, I think, a bigger Bayside fan than anyone I know – she came all the way out from state college just to see them play.
On that Friday night, I met Dan Rozenblum from Circle Talent Agency. He seemed genuinely happy to be at Launch and to be around music in general. On Friday and Saturday, there were a few hours between the time that panels ended for the day and music started for the night, so I spent the time exploring Lancaster, mostly to see what food I could find. Sushi, pizza, fresh sandwiches, pub food and burritos were all within walking distance. I even overheard someone say that there was a food truck somewhere close. I had something different each day but always ate outside.
I realized that Launch was definitely for more than just the artists; it was for the fans. too As I watched the crowds at almost every event, they were filled with people who were there for the music. I’m sure a lot of them were in other bands playing that weekend and a lot of them probably did attend a few of the panels, but the real thing that brought everyone to Lancaster for Launch was the music.