Upfront made almost half of the 11 shows at Bend's biggest venue this summer. We were there on the cold and wet night that Michael Franti and Spearhead opened up the season by getting our beanie-covered heads bopping and we were also in attendance as the revamped Stone Temple Pilots closed out the season with a "Time Life Alt-Rock of the Early-Mid Nineties" nostalgia set.
All in all, the amphitheater season was a success, say the organizers of the venue. But what caught the eye of Upfront were the show-by-show figures printed in the Other Paper this week stating that even the most well-attended show (Brooks & Dunn, y'all) drew less than 5,000 people. The number is impressive, but not as remarkable when considering that the stated capacity for the Schwab is 8,000.
We were at Sheryl Crow's post-Obamarama late-night (at least by Bend standards) rock-a-thon which reportedly drew about 4,400 fans and the place seemed pretty much packed. There were a few spots in the beer garden to strap in a few more people, but for the most part, an open piece of grass was hard to come by.
Upfront wonders what it might have looked like to have 8,000 people inside the LSA gates for that Sheryl Crow show. Willie Nelson's appearance last summer was packed as all ponytails and similar things were said about the Ben Harper/Jack Johnson stop the year before that. We thought Crow and Dunn were packed, but apparently not. There was still some packing to be done.
Upfront has heard rumblings from the other side of the Source building that changes were afoot at next year's WinterFest. But we were sworn to strict secrecy on penalty of death, or at least withholding of precious event buttons. But this week event coordinators Lee "You Can't Scratch This" Perry and Cindy "Traveling" Tintle dropped the bomb. Your favorite downtown winter get-together is now your favorite Old Mill get-together. LibertyBank Winterfest which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary has outgrown its downtown digs and is relocating to the old Mill area near the amphitheater. Speaking of buttons, the event has picked up a new title sponsor in Mt. Bachelor, which will allow season pass holders to "flash their pass" in lieu of a button. WinterFest is scheduled for Feb. 13-15. "Pretty much it's going to rock your face off," Perry said. Or something like that.
Forget Hurricanes, the start of football season, even the federal takeover of embattled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, there's been no newsmaking item like Gov. Sarah Palin over the past week. Critics have bashed her record as a mayor and governor, while supporters have rallied around her pro-life and rural, conservative values image. Upfront hasn't been immune from the national gossip fest, which reached its low point with a series of purported Palin photos, one showing Palin in a bikini with a rifle while a mulleted male relaxes pool side with a smoke and a can of malt liquor.
Several Source staffers, while amused, questioned the authenticity of the pics. Upfront consulted with one of the far flung correspondents in Anchorage, Alaska who first met Palin about 10 years ago while she was serving as mayor of Wasila, a small town on the outskirts of Anchorage. Here's what our man in AK had to say about the photos when asked to arbitrate our office dispute:
Totally how she rolls. I went to visit Levi the other day. I was nearly run off the road by some rat-tail kids on four-wheelers. I'm sure the national media crews were, too. The Palinistas, as we call them here, are a bad-ass bunch. Don't mess with Texas? How about don't mess with Palin and The First Dude. BTW: I love the fact that Todd has won the 2000-mile-long snowmachine event up here. It really highlights his talents.
Satisfied Upfront returned to straightening up our cubicle and generally avoiding actual work. Two days later we received an email with the photo (above/below..) which showed the photo pre-Palin photoshop. Which goes to show that wanting something to be true, doesn't make it so - even when it makes for great office banter. As far as the other less important stuff like Palin not believing in global warming, abortion rights and evolution. That's still all true, as far as we know...