Arts Desk

Onward and Upward With Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival

When Dave Mann first conceived Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival last year, he imagined a 35-band, two-day festival in an Eritrean restaurant on 9th Street NW. After returning from the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas—his inspiration—he gave himself about a month and a half to plan the event. By the time the festival rolled around in May—after Mann tried to sell tickets, gave up and made the event free, and added five more venues—it had swelled to include 125 acts. “If I’m going to fail,” Mann said at the time, “I want to fail big.”

Well, more like stumble big. "There definitely were some bridges that were burned,” Mann says now of his inaugural attempt at staging a massive music festival in D.C. But for its many, many idiosyncrasies—a barely curated lineup, spit-and-duct-tape organization, a dearth of sound engineers—Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival was a fairly fun time. A few months later, with a little bit more organization, Mann did it again, with even more bands.

This time, he's waited a full year between festivals. Now, Washington's scrappiest, hardest-to-explain festival of indie rock and whatever else boasts more than 300 acts. It begins today and runs through Sunday at venues all over town, including Comet Ping Pong in Chevy Chase.

When I chatted with Mann yesterday, he still had to fill in some of the TBD slots on the festival website. (He swears they're all booked now. He just needs to update the site.) This afternoon, having taken the day off from work, he'll pick up donated equipment from a sponsor in Alexandria and deliver T-shirts to show venues and check any other remaining boxes before the third Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival begins.

"One thing I wanted to do differently was definitely add a lot more bands," says Mann, who expanded his network during the spring, when he hosted a large Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie showcase in Austin during South by Southwest. Not having two D.C. festivals to plan also allowed him to grow the event—to more than a dozen venues—while improving its execution, he says. “You have to have that much time to prepare for something like this, if you don’t want to see the backlash of comments in a Washington City Paper thread.”

Oh, right: that. And this.

Mann acknowledges that he probably planned the first Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival too hastily—hence the small army of detractors who have complained about his competence, motives, and impact on local music every time City Paper has written about him. But STPP, he stresses, is a trial-and-error undertaking. At this point, "If I’m doing this wrong, I don’t know why any of the bands would still want to be a part of this,” he says. At least 60 acts that played at last October's festival have signed on to play this one, he says.

Other changes: a more organized committee and a large force of volunteers and sound engineers; more in-kind sponsorships; more neighborhoods; label showcases; a few rock clubs in addition to the usual hole-in-the-wall spaces; and, hopefully, more bands getting paid.

While previous festivals were a pro bono affair for most of the acts involved, this year Mann found one sponsor willing to give the festival some cash—Lagunitas Brewing Company—and is selling small-business sponsorships he hopes will help with payouts. Some bands got guarantees this year—evidence that Mann is trying to raise the overall quality of the talent even as he holds onto the festival's democratic ethos. (He also raised money for marketing via shows at the Black Cat over the summer, and expects to bring in about $1,000 through an Eventstir campaign.) Will that result in enough money to pay 300 acts? That's hard to imagine, and one persistent critique of Mann is that he grew his festival to an unreasonable scale well before it was ready.

While Mann realizes the festival will work better once he's able to pay everyone, he's feeling good about the size. "It’s not about one person enjoying 300 bands," he says. You say quality, he says variety—he wants a festival that mixes it up.

Mann's hoping that managing the festival will be a bit less manic this year. "I think it’s just a matter of having my phone fully charged and answering any questions that come up," he says. "I want to enjoy myself this year.”

Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie Festival runs today through Sunday at various venues. See a complete schedule at Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie's website.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • dm

    So STPP Music FEST is here!!! T-Minus 7.5 hours til bands start strumming their guitars, pounding on their drums and banging on their glockenspiels.

    My top ten #stppfest2012bandstowatch picks for this weekend!

    (in no particular order)


    2. Il Abanico (NYC)

    3. Clair Morgan (Richmond, VA)

    4. Conveyor (NYC)

    5. The Foreign Resort (Denmark)

    6. DEERPEOPLE (Stillwater, OK)

    7. YEVETO (Baltimore, MD)

    8. Nelsonvillains (NY)

    9. Graph Rabbit (NYC)

    10. Zulu Pearls (Berlin/DC)

    Lets all make an effort to support ALL the bands playing tonight through Sunday by not letting them play in an empty room!



  • The Mostly Dead

    Read some of the negative comments on the previous articles and I gotta say that's the music scene I'm familiar with in DC... Seriously... getting paid? When we go OUT OF TOWN we never expect to get paid - and this fest is free. I hope Dave can raise some money for the traveling bands, but beyond that who cares?

    Playing / watching music is a joy. Usually it's worthwhile in and of itself.

    Big ups to Dave for putting this stuff together, I for one know it takes a lot of time to get a single regular show off the ground, and I can't fathom the amount of work this thing took.

    I know my band is happy and proud to play this, and seriously thanks for letting us be involved.

    The Mostly Dead

  • Aqui

    This guy is an absolute joke. Year in and year out his festival somehow gets worse in terms of management and planning. It literally defies logic. This year a TON of bands cancelled on him, and his response to that was to book MORE venues. I kinda just feel sad for him- it's like he reality continues to bitchslap him in the face and he just ignores it.

  • Tyler

    This article like the profile on Mann is very cleverly mocking STTP and Mann personally. I think the author is amused by the fact that Mann doesn't seem to get it. The reason why bands freely play festivals like this is because they are desperate for exposure. That is the only reason they'll deal with this guy's incompetence. Go to the shows. You'll see a complete and utter mess. You'll see a bunch of crappy bands playing in front of no one. Why? No real sponsorship, no budget, no real support from the DC music community. Why? Because this guy not only doesn't know what he is doing but he is also clearly picking favorites along the way. Look at his post on this thread. Basically saying, "hey guys go see these bands because i really like them." What message does that send to the supposedly 200 plus other bands you have booked?

    There is nothing wrong with the DC music scene. It is thriving with diverse artists and music. Almost none of the awesome, not derivative, bands in DC are playing this festival. It is for a reason. This guy is going to ultimately be bad for DC music. As a fan, I hate to see someone treat bands like shit and ensure out of town bands pay and short local bands.

    Again, for good examples of festivals look at groups like Trillectro. They know what they are doing.


  • Mark

    Got to give it up to the guy... he is tenacious. Way not to give up... It's just get better and better each time.

    Take it as it comes... if you don't want to be a part of it. Don't be a part of it. It's as simple as that.

    Good luck on a fun and smooth festival.

  • Beau

    Yeah every little small town scene in the USA has someone like this Dave guy that is wayyy too nice, a little idealistic, but a general force of good ... And also a bunch of overly self important wanna bees that can't hack it in Brooklyn making fun of the Daves of the world. I wish there were more people like him, ones that actually want to make things better for everyone, instead of just him or herself. Sure your fest isn't the biggest or best, but CMJ is completely Fxxxed, and from the initial rumblings SXSw this year is already price gouging. Make your own scene better. Figure it out. Quit hating on people that are trying to help. Literally, people from all over the country are looking at this little fest right now, even though it is a small one, in a small scene. Realize that your scene is usually just a pit stop on the way up the east coast for most; having any fest whatsoever makes the rest of us consider that your community may be healthier than most, bringing in more people, bands and interest.

  • Tyler

    No one has actually responded to the substance of my criticism. There is no response. It's indefensible. We are adults, you don't get points for trying. To call DC a small town scene just shows how ignorant you are of the music scene here. I'm tired of everyone hating on the scene. The truth is we have one of the most successful clubs in the nation, 930 Club, and a bunch of smaller clubs that play host to great local music. Several DC bands are currently garnering national attention and we had a festival that hosted some of the biggest hip hop and electronic acts in the nation. All STTP is doing is needlessly taking up bandwidth and simply promoting the bands that Dave Mann likes. In the meantime, Mann is managing to alienate literally dozens of DC bands and disrespect them openly. He has repeatedly said, "DC bands only get to play for exposure." Really? What exposure? Has anyone gone to any of this guy's events? No one shows up. Why? Because no one cares enough to show up to such a poorly promoted unorganized, crap fest. You can hate on CMJ or SXSW all you want but there is a reason why the best bands play those festivals. There is a reason why bands come out of those festivals with record deals and careers. It is because they combine heart with competence, organization with DIY flavor. So stop kidding yourselves and wake up.


    Blah, blah, blah.

    HOLY FINGERS is psyched to play STPP Fest and can't wait to hang out with tons of awesome bands. Thanks Dave!

    C.R.E.A.M. (Cash ruined everything about music)

  • probably because your point lacks substance

    @ t//y//l//e//r

    " /// .... No one has actually responded to the substance of my criticism. /// "

    probably because your point lacks substance. the event was 1 of 5 top events for the weekend in the washington post express yesterday, good sir. That's nothing to sneeze at.

    also, check out their site, good sir. lots of sponsors on board this festival this year. do you like good beer? have you heard of lagunitas? nothing to sneeze at good sir. check it out all the logos appear on the right hand side of the site. or are you too lazy to check it out?


    a concerned but not-so-concerned citizen

  • mary

    hey ty (btw, your nickname exemplifies your douchiness), why are you so obsessed with this festival? all you do is bash it. what exactly are you doing for the music scene? if i remember correctly from all your other hate spewing comments, you aren't even in a band. in fact, i'm going to take an educated guess that you aren't even originally from dc. you are like a dog with a bone. you should probably find a hobby rather than stalking for every post about this festival.

  • From the Mann Himself


    “This is the last year that I will be doing STPPFest without an assistant.”


    “The critique is that “[STPP Fest]’s too big…and it was.”




    “Okay, so I lied. This is the 2nd to last email.”


    “In a perfect world, no band will be playing to an empty room this weekend.”


    “I had to creatively delete the many emails that belonged to the many bands that have cancelled and have added the many bands that were on stand-by.”

    “Please help STPPFest by getting your friends bands involved!....I wasn't expecting as many submissions as I received this year but I also wasn't expecting as many cancellations as well…


    “If the band is from DC, then I pay close attention to said band because I do want to support the local DC music scene.”


    “I just updated the mass email list to reflect the bands that have NOT cancelled on me, heh. That was a fun half hour. “


    “Just wanted to send this along. It's certainly a lot better than letting you know that I've gotten more cancellations OR that comment thread is getting out of control, heh.”

    “gotta love people that don't have nice things to say, heh.

    “i'm really stoked to have you guys playing this festival this year! i really do believe that we are heading in the right direction despite what some people think about the last two festivals. the truth of it is that the first one was thought up and started 1.5 months before 125 bands showed up to play the inaugural fest. then the 2nd fest happened a few months later. this time around, we have had some time to really figure out logistics, talk to tons of people, get social media involved, etc...”


    “The goal for this year is that (and I can't make any promises) the out-of-town bands will get some gas money but we are still a really young festival without HUGE sponsors on board meaning, we don't have a lot of money.

    Anyways, DIY forever, right? Heh.”

    “Please, please, more cancellations”

    “This festival is very DIY..meaning, I cannot afford to hire people to keep track of you all so I am literally editing all the cancellations, informing you of the revised line-ups, etc. and this is for 200+ bands which will be playing at 12 different venues.”

    “I don't expect you to feel sorry for me but I would very much appreciate your patience (sorry for the repetition) from here on out.”


    “So I'm not sure how many of you have booked festivals but when you are
    trying to get bands like Spoon as your main headliner, you will be
    spending 75-100K to meet their guarantee. With STPPFest being a new
    festival, we clearly do not have that type of budget but these benefit
    shows will help raise money so that we can afford up-and-coming buzz
    bands who haven't reached that level to where they can ask for
    thousands and thousands of dollars.”


    “I am not sure if you all know this or not but Friday, Oct. 5th is DC
    area bands ONLY! This means, you all will be representing DC during
    STPPFest prior to all of the out-of-town bands coming in for the


    “I think it would be pretty cool to score a Wes Andersen movie but the more I think about that, we aren’t cool enough to score one of his movies.”


    “If your band (or if you are a singer/songwriter) played to an empty room or a packed house, please know that either situation was part of the festival and this same festival was promoted as a whole and not a per venue basis. So as much as it hurts me to know that a band drove down from NYC or Florida to play for an empty room with no compensation, that wasn't the plan. I never singled out any of the venues to the press. This was promoted as a festival and I hope you all realize that. “

    “Please leave a comment on that thread.

    IF you had a great time then please let the world know.
    IF you felt like the festival wasn't worth your time, please let the world know.

    I only hope you don't hide behind your computer and purposely forget to reveal your name/band name. If something happened this weekend
    and you weren't satisfied, I want to know who you are so we can try and fix it. “

    I am really hoping that I will be doing all of this F/T soon and when that happens, it will be less likely that things will fall
    through the cracks since I won't have to be up at insane hours throughout the night because I couldn't take care of something
    during my 9-5 job.”

    [May] 2011

    ““If I’m going to fail, I want to fail big.”


    “I wouldn’t say I have an ego, but I do like to be in control of things for the most part,” he explains. “When you have 10-plus other people in the band, it’s possible that their vision isn’t your vision. But I like for people to explore their creativity when it comes to putting stuff on top of my songs.”


    “Musical ADD? I'm sorry. . . I. Have. Too. Many. Things. Going. On. Right. Now. To. Answer. You. Please. Come. Again. Soon. All roads lead to Craigslist.”


    “Working with any band that does not have 18 people in it is definitely manageable, in the sense that you don't have a likely trainwreck on your hands. However, Sweet Tea Pumpkin Pie does not allow for such a thing, since our songs are composed and the parts are all played by classical musicians who can play to sheet music. With Twins of a Gazelle, I write the songs and have different musicians play with me from show to show. All I ask of them is that they have fun and be creative with their instrument.”


    “Don’t worry, man, these nights are just about having fun.”

  • Lázaro

    Someone got a stalker...

  • BrianH

    I was wondering what all the douchey summer interns do during the rest of the i know. Troll around and give people who are actually doing things crap.

    Tyler, you gave yourself away as a douche by saying "Go to the shows. You'll see a bunch of crappy bands playing in front of no one." BUT when my friends and I GO to the shows and look around, we will, at the VERY LEAST, see that the bands are playing in front of US. Which, i might say, is a big freaking deal because i am a huge deal.

    Furthermore, because I actually have a job and dont spend all week on pitchfork or trolling this site waiting to bash DM or douchebags named Tyler, I find recommendations quite helpful for this festival. DM is allowed to give them out just as I would if I had time to do the research.

    Now fetch me some more coffee. Wait, make it Sweet Tea.

  • TMD


    You, not being in a band, obviously do not understand that in free and/or donation type shows - even small 3-5 band ones, touring bands get the money. You being a "fan" (more likely friends with some self important indie band who didn't get paid and play music for money and/or girls - classic btw)you admit you don't understand how the music community works.

    I played a fest last week in the midwest. All of the out of town bands got a little cash, the locals did not, and that was cool with everyone.

    I would say that this thing has been way more organized that I would have thought, and we are constantly updated (as that long as post shows above)

    Just stop being butt hurt, if you don't like the thing, don't go.

  • Amber

    We had a lot of fun last night in Adams Morgan checking out bands and are going to back tonight and probably by U Street too (mostly because we want to go to Ben's Chili Bowl)! Some of the groups sucked, but there were some really good ones too.

    What I like: it's free! If a band sucks or some weirdo with just their guitar, we leave and can go see another band. I really don't care who Dave Mann is, but it's cool that somebody brought something like this in DC. I also like that there are a lot of bands/a lot of choice...but probably too many.

    What I hated: things are way too spread out. There were some big local bands I've really wanted to see that I've been curious about for a long time that were playing out by the convention center, and honestly that a little bit of a scary area, and walking to the metro from Adams Morgan is too much of a pain. Plus, those venues out there seemed kind of sketchy too-I'd never heard of any them.

    There are too many people with just a guitar or whatever. I'd rather just see bands. I wish things were all in one area. It would have been cool if everything was all next to each other on the same street.

    But whatever, it was pretty good, and we even got a free piece of pie.

  • Tyler

    Wow. You all must be incredible at guessing because you've inferred that I have no job, I'm a "douche", and I've never been in a band.

    1) I do have a job. I'm a Development Director at a Non Profit. You want details? Email me.

    2) I guess someone speaking the truth equals "douchebaggery?" Message sections for articles are not there to just have you all blindly support Dave Mann despite his disrespectful attitude towards bands. These boards are for open discussion and criticism. I never personally attacked anyone on this board. I don't even know Dave Mann, he might be a nice guy, but his work sucks. I'm pointing that out.

    3) I'm not currently in a band. However, I've been in bands before. I know what it's like to play for no money and be treated like shit by people like Dave Mann. It is precisely for that reason that I take such issue with people like him who claim to be doing something good for DC music when they are just continuing to muddy the waters. Again, look at Trillectro festival. Have any of you asked, "hey those guys did a great job what can we learn from them?" Clearly no one here is in the business of self reflection or improvement.

    Have you all actually read the emails someone published above? After reading that insane collection of jumble you still support this guy? Does that look like the professional writing of someone organizing a festival with care and respect? According to the emails, he appears to have just started looking for sponsorships weeks before the festival. He also seems to have been sending messages relaying panic and instability.

    Finally, I checked out the festival on Saturday night when I got back from Freefest. What a god damn mess. I went to Mellow Mushroom, Mood Lounge, and a few other of the spots (including the ones near the oh so scary Convention Center). I saw unorganized and crappy venues for live music. So many spots were just singer song writers playing guitar by themselves. There was NO ONE at any of the shows. 200 bands? Word?

    Honestly, I just felt bad for the musicians. So many desperate bands out there willing to deal with this guy's insanity. I got no pleasure in seeing this festival fail. You all can personally attack me all you want. Doesn't change the fact that STTPfest is a disaster. "Locals play for exposure, out of town bands get paid." You all are supporting that idea, and I'm the douchebag? Wow.

  • Aqui

    This whole "at least he's trying" mentality is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard. What is this, elementary school soccer? We all get trophies just for playing? This whole thread reeks of shit musicians and people who's parents shoulda smacked em around a little more. Mann is wasting his life away and the rest of you buffoons just clap along like a bunch of gorillas at the zoo. Have fun wallowing in mediocrity your whole lives.

  • Cletus

    Let's just state the obvious here. Dave Mann is a terrible, terrible operations man, and somehow, if this is possible, an even worse promoter.

    If someone sucks at something, but only wastes their own time and effort, that’s fine – let the fool play in his own fabricated playland. I DO have a big problem though when the actions and ineptitude of that fool affects other people.

    By asking, begging, pleading bands to come play his festival, Dave Mann took on the responsibility, whether he knew it or not, to treat these bands respectfully by giving them a well-run and well-managed festival. When you aim as high as he did, promising 300 bands or whatever, people expect good execution. None of that happened.

    Look at the emails that were posted by “From The Mann Himself”. If you were a band who agreed to play this festival, how do you NOT feel like a sucker?

    Let me add some more e-mail tidbits to this turd-pile from Da Mann.

    9/16/12 – “Kojami is creating the mobile app for each venue that attendees will be able to access once they're inside a venue from their phone. “

    Didn’t happen.

    9/21/12 – “And, I *think* our beer sponsor, Laguanitas, are going to supply free beer for you all. “

    Didn’t happen.

    9/23/12 – “I am attaching the tee shirt design for this years festival. It's very likely that we ARE putting all of the bands names on the back of the tee this year. Fingers crossed!”

    Didn’t happen.

    The sad thing is, I just spent 5 minutes going through old emails and found this turd-gold. There is plenty more crap out there. This is entirely indicative of the fool Dave is.

    *SIDE NOTE* - If you're organizing a festival, and a bunch of bands back out on you, do you post 20 times pleading bands to "PLEASE STOP BACKING OUT"? Do you send out 20 emails saying the same to those who haven't yet? No. Simple understanding of Human Psychology AND/OR Strategy 101 dictates that Dave Mann should NOT talk about how bands are quitting en masse because that reflects very poorly on his festival. If you're on a boat and you realize a lot of people are jumping off, do you stay on board?? *END SIDE NOTE*

    Yes, every band agreed to play STPP. No one was coerced. I get that. But Dave pretty much promised them Eden and gave them East St. Louis. That is not fair. That is not okay. The fact that you are applauding this fool for “trying” is not okay.

    If you suck at something, and you sucking at that thing affects other people’s live, for the love of God, stop doing it. Dave Mann, you are not good at managing festivals, you don't have a good eye for designing t-shirts, your posters are pretty juvenile, you break promises, you book outdoor venues in October, you are crazy.

  • deedot

    So I'm not for or against the festival, but one thing I have heard that makes me feel uneasy is that this festival, STPP, is exactly what DC needed. I've heard multiple people say that our music scene needs festivals like this.

    I don't think so.

    Overbooking, overlapping, spread out venues, no compensation are just a few of the factors adding up to making a local, DIY festival discombobulated. I've seen festivals with these aims get pulled off before, with soem success. I helped Dan Deacon out with Whartscape, and saw him slaving on it, and still taking money to make sure bands got paid. I know a lot of people in DC that book events, and make sure they don't overbook it, they have correct gear for performers, they set the atmosphere for the space, and that, during the event, they raise funds for musicians.

    You want to bring DC together by music? Maybe do a weekend fest of 10 to 30 bands, make sure nothing overlaps, make sure people can work together to promote and share gear. Musicians don't mind promoting their shows, and it's easier to promote one event rather than promoting a bran (STPP that covers multiple events at multiple locations...I mean, come on...Comet Ping Pong is rather far by bike or foot from the Convention Center area)

    You want to turn out-of-town bands on to our city and community? Have a weekend fest for them then. Make sure they get good treatment, have a place to stay, have a draw from the DC crowd. Hell, put locals and out-of-towners together, but, you just get into trouble by trying to put together a festival with overlapping sets and so forth..

    You want to see people pulling events off well in DC with planning and a small (and often DIY) budget? Check out the Paperhaus. Check out events put together by the Pinkline Project. Sonic Circuits just had a phenomenal festival that hosted many bands over a one place. The key is consistency and efficiency there. Places like Sub A and the Papersun are for the most part gone, but there are people like those who run "Above the Bikeshop", a venue in their loft, that use online tools like Eventbrite to promote their events and guarantee draw and funds. Somebody give Sasha Lord credit for her phenomenal events at Comet Ping Pong, and Raul of All Our Noise some love for writing and filming DC bands for years on his own time!! There is a lot of amazing stuff happening in DC, on a DIY level, and STPP is fledgling, so I'll give it time, but at the moment, it seems more amateur, and to me, doesn't speak for what DC music needs, right now.

  • deedot

    ahhh, and don't forget about Brandon Wetherbee, who hosts local musicians on his talk shows, Chris Naoum who puts together local listen playlists and events, and man, there's so many more amazing people in DC who represent DC music, what it is, and what it should be!!

  • mistigrie

    I'm a fan of several of the bands that played at the festival this year and I'm really glad that this scene is continuing to move forward thanks to the positive energy of people that really love music.

    Even more than radio, listening to these bands and going to these shows has shaped the music that I'm working on. It is important to be exposed to all of the great ideas.

    Thanks to the musicians, the restaurants, volunteers and organizers for making this possible!

  • Kat Winkler

    Thank You to everyone who participated in making STPPFest 2012 happen and Thank You to everyone for providing feedback. I grew up in the DC post-punk/hardcore/Riot Grrrl scene and I am a local musician with a variety of goals, who enjoyed meeting new people, hearing new music, eating Dangerously Delicious pumpkin pie, and playing at STPPFest- simply because this is what I love to do.

  • @deedot

    @ deedot

    < < > >

    Dude, this guy isn't Dan Deacon. Dan Deacon has a lot of influence in Baltimore (and well beyond Baltimore) which makes it way easier for anybody to get anything done.

    Other than that, you have a lot of valid points, some I agree with, others I don't. But, it doesn't matter what we agree or disagree on. Something is happening, for better or for worse. If anything, the stppfest people will read these comments and listen to what people are saying about the festival and strive to make this better the next time around. Right?

    So this is the 3rd festival and it looks like its getting better over time. And, according to their facebook page they are listening to you guys..

    #stppfest2013 100 BANDS + 4-5 VENUES IN 1 NEIGHBORHOOD + 3 DAYS! SEE YA NEXT YEAR!

  • Bryan

    had a great time, i played cuz i wanted to, i am not desperate for exposure in any way...will do again!

  • Bryan

    and i just want to say, anyone that assumes that i am not a talented musician because i play for free should let me know...i will destroy you musically...i have no doubt about that...where i am from, those are called artists...musicians who get paid are professional of those is a job, one is a calling...i am fine with both...not sure why you guys think you get to decide how much i charge for my art, even if i set the price at free...

  • Matt Thomas

    Uglyography is very thankful to Dave and crew for a great show during the festival at The Black Squirrel. We drove 4 hours, rocked, got free pumpkin pie (no pay) and then drove home 4 hours all in a day and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I am sorry that a handful of the venues didn't pan out as well as hoped. Lesson learned and Dave admitted this fault for the festival. However, as far as most every other aspect of the festival goes, all bands should have been able to view the slew of 50+ mass emails from Dave as a testament to his commitment to making the festival a success. Looking forward to next year (hopefully) regardless of what the haters have to say. Hats off my man. Even if it wasn't perfect, I believe that your supporters vastly outnumber the critics and bands that felt slighted.

  • Matt


    What makes you feel the need to incessantly defend local bands, not being actively involved in one? They don't need your help and I'm pretty sure the ones that are really concerned about leaving a show with some cash either A) have guarantees, or B) know that this isn't the kind of thing they are interested in being involved in/supporting.

    Either way, they don't need your help trashing this festival, and probably could care less about nitpicking and criticizing STPPfest, because it's simply not something they want to be involved in. They are looking to the next paying gig. And there is nothing wrong with this. Some bands stick to a business model and probably have more success to show for it. Some bands play music exclusively for the love of playing music and any money that comes along with is just an added bonus, a pleasant surprise…

    I don't know what your experience growing up in any particular local scene has been, but as TMD touched on, there are things local bands do for out of town bands that are pretty much written in stone, at least at the indie level (this was an INDIE fest, was it not????). I can't tell you how many times I've felt awful because for whatever reason, my band's local show didn't bring a good amount of people for the touring band on the bill. I can't tell you how many times I've given the $60 my band made at a poorly attended show to the band from out of state and let them sleep on my couches and floors because THAT'S WHAT YOU DO! People who love playing music generally love supporting people who love playing music, regardless of what the band sounds like. "Hey, you're doing it! You're touring! It was awesome when I toured last year! Hope it's going well! How can we make your tour more awesome?" THAT is the general attitude independent musicians have in these situations and if they didn't, they wouldn't be involved locally in a free festival in the first place.

    I honestly don't see what your point is or who you feel the need to defend. STPPfest was great for seeing a lot of bands from a lot of different places, and the ones that I happened to see were all doing something different and interesting and were definitely not crappy. Regardless of any organizational difficulties that come with such a huge undertaking, this festival was exactly what it was supposed to be and I'm glad there are folks in DC who want to put things like this together.

    On a side note, the showcase my band played in went off without a hitch and we got some exposure that we were desperately seeking. You see, we're desperate for the exposure on account of being so crappy all the time. ;)

    Matt, Balkan Falcon

  • Bryan

    THIS GUY^^^^^ MUAH*

  • Beau Finley

    Just FYI, the Beau posting above is not the Beau who posted on last year's article:

  • Banana Hammock

    I'm someone who's been involved with the festival, playing and helping. Dave is a cool guy who is absolutely a force for good in the DC music scene (I just think he could be a force for a lot more good). I'm not going to say who I am because, well, I guess I'm just too much of a coward. But I just wanted to post something that strikes a balance between Tyler's off-putting shaming of Dave which in another article was outright nasty and uncalled for, and other people's attitude of "it went alright for me and my band, it's all good, go Dave!" This festival is cool, and it was a lot better this year, but it could be SO much better. Some cool bands, cool people, actual sound people in all venues. But the simple anecdote that there were dozens of dozens of TBA spots on the day of the festival and that Dave was sending out the call for anyone, ANYONE who wanted to play speaks volumes. DC is so ripe for something like this, but this festival will not grow if it is not managed better. It's like someone bought ten buildings first, and then said "I have a restaurant chain" before he'd decided on a cuisine or hired employees or formulated a business plan. The fest is built from the top down and it shows. A dramatically smaller, thoroughly curated festival with local and out of town bands, with the cooperation of more of the actual music venues in DC would be much easier to manage effectively, and, more importantly, will have the ability to grow over time and draw high numbers of music fans and higher profile acts. If we're all cool with it being a bunch of bands most people have never heard of, playing in a few restaurants for a weekend, that's cool. There's nothing to apologize for if that's all STPPfest seeks to be, and it will be a nice way for bands that so choose to add that show to their itinerary. A smaller festival, however, will be easy to manage, cancellations won't mount up, venues won't pull out, the website will be updatable, etc. People will be asked to play, rather than the festival asking any band to play (never a good sign after STPP has run three fests in DC, in addition to many one-off shows, and one fest in Austin already). To dismiss Tyler's complaints is foolhardy since many of them are valid, just because they're rudely stated. A good (or any, quite frankly) reputation is priceless, and STPP does not have that, which will hurt sponsorships and band participation for the future. Most people have had a good time at STPP, but quite a few didn't, and they vent on message boards not because they want to tear down Dave personally, but because they're frustrated with how their experience went.

    Some might say, what the hell are you, banana hammock, doing for the DC scene? Well, nothing close to what Dave Mann does, and hat's off to him for being so ambitious and actually attempting something most people would be too cynical or scared to attempt. He's doing something for the DC music scene, and he DOES get points for trying. He gets points for turning the conversation away from the long dead Dischord records crowd. He wants to do it his way, and he's done it his way. Bands will still play this festival as long as it exists, no doubt, because there are always bands who will play shows in front of anybody who will listen, even if it just other bands. Dave's heart is the right place, and if you hate STPP fest, don't go, don't participate. My complaint is simply that there is so much potential that is being wasted, and that this festival could be so much more (especially by being dramatically LESS and thereby so much more focused, and growing from there). It would be sad if this thing never took off, never became something better (and bigger in the sense of renown and reputation). It won't if it continues in this direction, or shall I say lack of direction. But if STPP is just big's for big's sake, and too unwieldy for one man and a few volunteers, and filled with bands unknown to even the most knowledgeable music fans, it won't grow into what it should be in ten years or so. It IS all about exposure, and STPP is getting ignored a little too much by the local press and local scene. It certainly has nothing to do with paying bands, and I've never heard of a local band feeling disrespected because they weren't paid at a free festival that advertised itself as such.

  • Tyler

    I'm not defending anyone. Again, no one except for the last post actually responded to any of my critiques. For all intents and purposes it appears STTP was again a disaster. Dude, can we stop beating around the bush and awarding "effort" even if it is destructive and counter-productive? The festival is poorly managed. All the problems come back to Dave Mann. Multiple people posted about the impending disaster and problems such as overbooking, letting ANYONE play, weeks ago. Now everyone, including Dave Mann, will say "I'm just learning." That is BS. The truth is some people just aren't good at some things. In Mann's case those things are making music and managing festivals. That's not a crime. However, continually dragging the DC music scene through the muck to please your own ego is ridiculous.

    Furthermore, I never said it is about money. I simply said, and I still stand by it, that Mann's assertion, "Locals play for exposure out of town bands get paid" is disrespectful. It is! That is EXACTLY the reason why so many bands dropped out of STTP and the venues were completely empty at the shows I went to on Saturday night. What exposure? Mann could be a nice person but he clearly doesn't give a crap about bands or the music scene. This was simply the playground for a guy with an EGO that surpasses his abilities.

    Finally, stop saying it just about the "love." If it were then there would be no fundraising, no sponsorships, no self promotion, and no discussion. Mann is clearly trying to build a brand. But based on what? Failure? Dude, this was his 4th festival and the attendance was awful. Nothing improved. One of the positive things about the open market is that it can sometimes tell you the truth. If there very few repeat sponsors (which it appeared there were), no major new sponsors, and venues and bands pulling out then there were no notable improvements. The market has told Mann that he sucks at this. I'm sure someone else will come along and do a better job of this kind of festival in the future. Heck, I'm actually considering it now. But I tell you what, first thing I'll do is go learn from people who've done it well. Did any of you go to Trillectro festival? Dude, they PACKED the fairgrounds by Nats stadium, had a mix of local DC acts and MAJOR national acts and had MAJOR sponsorships. As far as I know they are a bunch of local kids who put it together. The difference between them and Dave Mann is that they are good at what they do. You can call me "rude" but really I'm just the voice of reality in this conversation.

    By the way, did any of you read those emails posted above? Would you all consider those remotely professional? Would you consider that a "good effort?"


  • Aqui

    What is going over a lot of people's heads here is that this is not the first time Mann has royally screwed up a festival. It's his 3rd or 4th time doing this shitshow. The problem was, after the first one, when everyone was telling him what improvements to make, the guy just ignored them. His solution to every single problem is to book more venues and more bands. If he for once would listen to people who are just trying to tell him how to run his brand better, he'd be getting somewhere.

    The problem with him is straight ego. Well, that and a total lack of professionalism. Those emails that someone wikileak'd above are really telling of who this guy is. When shit starts hitting the fan, he starts sending out an email a minute to all of the bands. Everything he ever types in his emails seems to just be stream of conscious. In my many years of working in the music industry, I have yet to come across a more unprofessional festival promoter. And I've seen some reeeeal wild cards.

    In dealing with a normal show or festival, the band/managment usually communicates back and forth with the promoter maybe a handful of times. Dave Mann sends out 10 emails a day to all the bands involved, and over half of those emails are totally nonsensical and just ramble on. Either he needs to put the bong down or there is a larger issue. I don't know him and don't want to jump to conclusions, but he displays a lot of behavior that medication could really help with. That is not meant to be a knock.

    And to those of you bashing Tyler, he's right. Sure he might be a rude in how he is coming across, but he makes many valid points. Whether he likes it or not, Dave Mann has PUT HIMSELF in the public eye. Once he did that, he opened himself up to public opinion. Each of the past 3 times he has done this, there has been a ton of public criticism of how he has handled his festival. But he doesn't listen. So the criticism will continue. That is how the world works, people.

    And you know what? In the end, Tyler is doing this guy more of a service than any of you "yes men". Just because your set went ok doesn't mean this guy is throwing a successful festival. While you all are sitting around being self-congratulatory, the rest of us realists out here are actually going to end up helping Mann way more than you have.

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